The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool’s Vision For Rail

This document on the Liverpool City Region web site is entitled Metro Mayor’s Vision Of A Merseyrail for All Takes Vital Step Forward With Successful Trial Of New Battery-Powered Trains.

It makes these points in the first part of the document.

  • Game-changing technology paves way for Merseyrail network expansion across the Liverpool City Region and beyond
  • Merseyrail services could reach as far as Wrexham and Preston
  • City Region is at the forefront of the introduction of pioneering energy efficient technology.

The new battery-powered trains would certainly go a long way to  enable, these objectives.

Battery-powered trains would need a range of 26.9 miles to go between Bidston and Wrexham stations.

Battery-powered trains would need a range of 15.3 miles to go between Ormskirk and Preston stations.

This link is to the North Cheshire Rail User Group’s Newsletter for Spring 2021.

This is said about battery range of the new Class 777 trains.

Later model Class 777’s have the ability to leave the 3rd rail and operate under battery power for 20 miles or more with a full load thus
permitting expansion of the Merseyrail network beyond its current limits.

I suspect they will also have regenerative braking to batteries, which will increase the range and allow Bidston and Wrexham stations to be achieved without charge.

It certainly sounds like Preston and Wrexham and all the intermediate stations,  will be added to the Merseyrail network.

As to the third point above about the introduction of pioneering energy efficient technology, I suspect this is mainly regenerative braking to batteries and replacement of elderly worn-out power supply equipment.

There is more in the Liverpool City Region document.

Expanding Merseyrail

This is said.

The game-changing technology could allow the Merseyrail network to extend across all six city region boroughs to places like Rainhill in St Helens, Woodchurch on the Wirral and Widnes in Halton.

It could also allow the new fleet to operate as far afield as Skelmersdale, Wrexham, Warrington and Runcorn.

Note.

  1. A 25 KVAC capability could well be needed.
  2. Chargers could be needed at some of these stations. I suspect Stadler have a Swiss manufacturer in mind.

In the run-up to May’s elections, the Mayor pledged to deliver ‘Merseyrail for All, a commitment to connecting under-served communities to the Merseyrail network.

New Stations

Initially the battery-powered trains, which are considerably greener, using up to 30% less energy than the existing fleet, are set to run on services to a planned new station at Headbolt Lane, Kirkby.

The wider Merseyrail for All programme could ensure every community is well served by an integrated public transport network and new and refurbished train stations are also high on the agenda.

They could include:

  • The Baltic Triangle in Liverpool
  • Carr Mill in St Helens
  • Woodchurch on the Wirral

Note.

Tram-Trains And Trackless Trams

The document says this.

Tram-Train technology and trackless trams will also be looked at as potential means of extending the Merseyrail network into hard-to-reach places. The technology could benefit areas such as Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Speke, Kirkby Town Centre, Southport Town Centre, Wirral Waters and the Knowledge Quarter.

Tram-trains built by Stadler in Valencia are already running in Sheffield and in the next few years they should be deployed on the South Wales Metro.

They were built by Stadler, who are building Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains, so I suspect they’ll go together like peaches and cream.

The Belgian firm; Van Hool have a product called Exquicity. This video shows them working in Pau in France.

These tram buses run on rubber types and are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

Could these be what the document refers to as trackless trams?

Battery Train Trials

The article finishes with this summary of the battery train trials. This is said.

Under the battery trials, financed by the Transforming Cities Fund, one of the new class 777 trains fitted with the battery technology was tested on the Northern line.

The batteries exceeded expectations with the trains travelling up to 20 miles per run without the need for re-charging.

The battery trains would remove the need for the third ‘electric’ rail, enabling the trains to travel beyond the existing network without major track investment.

The units passed all tests during four weeks of trials on the City Region’s rail network in May and June.

The Combined Authority and partners are still assessing the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the programme and will provide more information regarding the roll out as soon as it has been agreed.

It looks to me, if all these plans get implemented successfully, Liverpool City Region will have one of the best public transport systems of any similar-sized cities in the world.

The Full Plan As A Map

This article on the BBC is entitled Battery-Powered Trains Part Of Merseyrail Expansion Plan.

The article contains this map.

There is no key or explanation, but it appears that the pink lines are new routes, where Merseyrail will run trains.

Before I discuss each of the possible routes, I will discuss two big factors, that will affect a lot of my thinking.

The West Coast Main Line

Avanti West Coast have the following stops in trains per hour (tph)  at these stations on the West Coast Main Line as its trains pass the East of Merseyside.

  • Crewe – At least 5 tph
  • Warrington Bank Quay – At least 2 tph
  • Preston – At least 1 tph

These frequencies are in addition to these direct trains.

  • 1 tph to Liverpool Lime Street, which will rise to 2 tph in the December 2022, with a call at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Occasional services to Chester throughout the day.

Passengers do not have to go via Liverpool Lime Street to travel to London.

In addition. there are useful services run by TransPennine Express to Scotland, that call at Preston.

In Future; High Speed Two

This will call at Crewe, Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway, Preston and Warrington.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains were in all sorts of troubles and the service is now run directly by the Government’s Operator of Last Resort. I suspect that any reasonable offer to takeover over a service will be looked at favourably.

I will now look at Merseyrail’s new routes.

Ormskirk And Southport Via The Burscough Curve

Consider.

  • This has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • A curve between Burscough Bridge and Burscough Junction will have to be rebuilt on a former alignment.
  • Southport and Ormskirk are about 13 miles apart.
  • Southport and Ormskirk have third-rail electrified lines to Liverpool and the South.

It would be an ideal route for battery-electric trains with a range of 20 miles.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living near five stations a direct link to Liverpool.
  • It gives Southport a town of over 91,000 people more capacity to the city of Liverpool for jobs, leisure and shopping.
  • Will it open up more opportunities for new housing in villages like Burscough?

It will certainly give Merseyrail operational advantages to Southport.

Ormskirk And Preston

Consider.

  • This has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the existing Northern Trains service.
  • Preston and Ormskirk are about 15.3 miles and 32 minutes apart.
  • Omskirk has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Preston has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living near the Ormskirk and Preston Line a direct link to Liverpool.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between North Liverpool and Preston, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed 2 in the future.
  • The journey time could be reduced to under thirty minutes.

As football is so important to the Liverpool economy, would a time around forty-five minutes between Preston and Sandhills station tempt football supporters going to Anfield and Goodison Park to use the train and then perhaps a trackless tram to the stadium?

This Google map shows the location of Anfield, Goodison Park and Sandhills station.

Note.

  1. Anfield is in the bottom-right corner of the map and is marked by a red arrow.
  2. Goodison is in the top-right corner of the map, slightly to the West of Anfield.
  3. Sandhills station is in the bottom-left corner of the map.

Both stadia are around a mile and a half from the station.

Ormskirk And Preston

Once the Ormskirk and Southport and Ormskirk and Preston services are up and running, it would surely be possible to run a Southport and Preston service.

  • There would be a reverse at Ormskirk.
  • The two sections of Ormskirk and Southport and Ormskirk and Preston would both need battery power.
  • Whilst the driver changed ends at Ormskirk, the train would be recharged using a fast and efficient charger.
  • Times between Southport and Preston would be under an hour.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living in Southport, a direct link to Preston.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between Southport and Preston, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed 2 in the future.

This service could be very valuable for passengers, but I suspect the route could be implemented with minimal infrastructure changes at Ormskirk station.

Ormskirk Station

This picture shows Ormskirk’s single platform from the Merseyrail end.

Note.

  1. The Liverpool train in the foreground.
  2. The Preston train in the background.
  3. The solid barrier between the trains.

 

I wonder if the following would be possible with the barrier removed.

  • The long platform would be treated as one platform divided into two.
  • Perhaps they will be the Liverpool and Preston/Southport platform,
  • Trains that will leave the station for Liverpool will stop in the Liverpool platform.
  • Trains that will leave the station for Preston or Southport will stop in the Preston/Southport platform.
  • Through trains between Liverpool and Preston or Southport would be possible.
  • A train between Preston and Southport could reverse in the Preston/Southport platform, whilst trains for Liverpool used the Liverpool platform.

It looks like it’s an efficient layout borrowed from somewhere else. and Stadler have probably seen it before.

Headbolt Lane Station

In Headbolt Lane Station Fly-Through, I described the new Headbolt Lane station.

This screen capture is from the video in that post,

Note.

  1. Two platforms going away from the camera and one platform and what looks to be a siding going towards the camera.
  2. There appears to be no direct connection between the two different sets of tracks.

Until proven wrong, I believe that the camera is looking towards Liverpool, as it would mean that Liverpool services had two platforms. But they currently make do with one at Kirkby.

There is a walk through between the tracks, which

  • Enables passengers to access the second platform.
  • Allows passengers to enter the station from the other side.
  • Allows non-passengers to cross the tracks on the level.
  • Avoids the need to build a bridge.

It is certainly an innovative design.

If occasional trains need to go through, could there be a lift-out section of the walk-through?

But as there are buffer stops on the tracks in the three platforms, that are either side of the walk-through, I suspect it will never happen, as it’s too much hassle.

In the Wikipedia entry for Headbolt Lane station this is said.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority announced in July 2021 that a trial of a battery electric multiple unit (BEMU) version of the new Class 777 will serve the new station, when it opens. This will not require all of the line extension to Headbolt Lane to be electrified.

Merseyrail would appear to have neatly side-stepped, the Office of Road and Rail’s policy of no more third-rail electrification.

But I’m sure Merseyrail could put an approved train-charging system in the station.

  • They would need one if a Class 777 train arrived with a flat battery.
  • They would need one to charge trains on the Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale service, if the service were to be run by battery-electric trains.
  • They would need one to charge trains on the Headbolt Lane and Wigan Wallgate service, if the service were to be run by battery-electric trains.

The system could be based on a short length of overhead wire and a slim pantograph or a system like Railbaar from Furrer and Frey.

But does it give any clues as to the orientation of the station in the video?

  • As there are three platforms and a siding, that meet at Headbolt Lane station, all could be fitted with chargers. to make sure the services are reliable.
  • Liverpool services could be handled at either end, as it only needs one platform.
  • Skelmersdale and Wigan services could probably share a platform, but they would be better surely using two platforms.
  • The siding could be created into a platform for extra services to be added to the Merseyrail network

So there is no pressing reason, why the station cannot be North or South of the railway.

I suspect road layout and land use issues will eventually decide, the orientation of the station.

Headbolt Lane And Skelmersdale

Consider.

  • This has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail and Lancashire County Council.
  • Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale are just a few miles apart.
  • Direct running between Liverpool and Skelmersdale will not be possible, but it will be step-free change between trains.

The Wikipedia entry for Headbolt Lane station seems to indicate a proposed extension of the Northern Line with the next stop being the existing Rainford station. This would surely not add greatly to costs and bring Merseyrail to more fare-paying customers.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • Skelmersdale is a town of nearly 39,000 and is said to be one of the largest towns in England without a rail connection.
  • At Headbolt Lane passengers will be able to change for Liverpool or Manchester.

A lot of passengers will have received a modern train service.

Headbolt Lane And Wigan

Consider.

  • This service is currently run by Northern trains.
  • Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations are just over twelve miles apart.
  • Someone, who should know told me that by the time High Speed Two starts running through Wigan at a frequency of two tph, the two Wigan stations will have been combined.
  • Headbolt Lane station could be the drop-off point for those needing to go to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London on both the current West Coast Main Line and the future High Speed Two.

What better way to start that journey than on one of Merseyrail’s battery-electric Class 777 trains.

What would it do for passengers?

With modern battery-electric trains linking Headbolt Lane station to the combined Wigan station complex, this route could be the zero-carbon route between large parts of Liverpool and cantres of tourism and employment along and to the East of the M6 and the West Coast Main Line.

Liverpool South Parkway And Warrington Central

Consider.

  • This would be takeover of part of the current Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road service.
  • The map shows the service going at least as far as Warrington Central station.
  • Stations between Hunts Cross and Warrington Central include Halewood, Hough Green, Widnes, Sankey and the new Warrington West stations.

Distances are as follows.

  • Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street – 5.5 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Warrington Central – 12.7 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Trafford Park – 25.4 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Manchester Oxford Road – 28.7 miles

The following sections of the route have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street
  • East of Trafford Park.

With a bit more electrification at either end, the whole route should be in range of a battery-electric Class 777 train.

Or the Class 777 trains could be fitted with bigger batteries!

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • This is a route that has needed decent trains for years and has finally got new Class 195 trains.
  • But, in addition, the battery-electric Class 555 trains would decarbonise the route.

The major problem, though is not infrastructure or trains, but surely Andy Burnham, who is the outspoken Mayor of Greater Manchester could object to Merseyrail invading his patch.

Merseyrail’s Cheshire Ambitions

This is a section of the map shown on the BBC article, showing Cheshire.

It looks like there could be as many as three routes.

  • Chester and Crewe
  • Chester and Runcorn East
  • Ellesmere Port and Runcorn East

I’ll now cover the routes in detail.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the existing Trains for Wales service.
  • Chester And Crewe are about 21,2 miles and 25 minutes apart.
  • Chester has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Crewe has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.
  • There are proposals, that Beeston Castle and Tarporley station be re-opened.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • If trains will run between Crewe and Liverpool, this creates a second route between the two major stations.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between The Wirral and Crewe, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed 2 in the future.
  • The journey time could be reduced by enough to increase service frequency on the route.

I This would be a very useful extension of the Merseyrail network.

Chester And Runcorn East

Consider.

  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the existing Trains for Wales service.
  • Chester And Runcorn East are about 13.1 miles apart.
  • Two stations and five miles further on is Warrington Bank Quay station.
  • Chester has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Warrington Bank Quay has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It would enable a Merseyrail circular route from Liverpool Lime Street to Chester via Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham, Runcorn East and Helsby.
  • After Chester, it could take the Wirral Line back to Liverpool to make it a true Mersey Circular service.

Would a Mersey Circular service be a good idea?

Ellesmere Port And Runcorn East

Consider.

  • This been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the infrequent Northern Rail service.
  • Ellesmere Port And Runcorn East are about 10.8 miles apart.
  • Two stations and five miles further on is Warrington Bank Quay station.
  • Ellesmere Port has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Warrington Bank Quay has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It would certainly improve rail transport along the South Bank of the Mersey from Ellesmere Port to Warrington Bank Quay or Runcorn East depending on the Eastern terminus.
  • If the terminal were to be Warrington Bank Quay that would sort out the charging.
  • It could create a direct link in modern electric trains between Ellesmere Port and Warrington Bank Quay, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed 2 in the future.

I feel that an Ellesmere Port and Warrington Bank Quay service would be good for the area.

The Borderlands Line

I’ve left the Borderlands Line to last, as I feel it will be a lot more than commuter and leisure line between Liverpool and Wrexham.

  • It crosses the border between England and Wales
  • The line is 26.9 miles of double track, with a single-track extension of under two miles between the two Wrexham stations.
  • It has over twenty stations with more planned in both countries
  • It crosses a couple of rivers on long steel bridges.
  • It brings commuters to Liverpool and takes workers to the high-tech factories of companies like Airbus and Toyota on Deeside.
  • It connects to a lot of golf courses, one of which is the Open Championship course  at Royal Liverpool.
  • Once in Wales it has two connections to the North Wales Coast Line, which runs between Chester and holyhead.

It is no ordinary railway and is ripe for improvement to bridge passengers to employment sites and leisure areas along its route.

The line has one big problem in that passengers need to change trains at Bidston between Liverpool and Wrexham stations.

  • Between Bidston and Liverpool the Merseyrail electric trains to and from  Hoylake are used and they turn in the Liverpool Loop under Liverpool City Centre calling at four stations before returning.
  • Between Bidston and Wrexham, diesel multiple units are useds.

It is a route design straight out of the 1970s of men with minds without imagination. Even British Rail were designing battery-electric trains in the 1950s, which I wrote about in Did The Queen Ever Ride In This Train?.

Merseyrail intend to right the wrongs of the past using battery-electric Class 777 trains.

  • As electric versions of these trains will be used on the Liverpool and Hoylake service, there would be no need to change trains at Bidston if the Liverpool and Wrexham trains were just a battery-electric version of the same train.
  • The Wrexham trains would drive round the Liverpool Loop tunnel as hundreds of trains do every day.
  • The trains would be charged on the existing third-rail electrification at the Liverpool end.
  • I’m fairly certain that a frequency of two tph would be possible on the route, if the Liverpool Loop tunnel signalling could cope,
  • Trains would need to be charged at the Wexham end of the route and I’m sure Stadler have a solution.

It would be an efficient and cost effective way to decarbonise a tricky but useful branch line.

Conclusion

Stadler are playing their full orchestra of ideas on Merseyrail.

When completed, it will be one of the best metros of any urban areas up to a million people in the world.

This metro could do for Liverpool, what the Beatles did for the city in the 1960s.

July 15, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Surprisingly, the report only mentions decarbonisation once and that is when it is talking about moving the AC/DC switchover point on the West London Line to Kensington Olympia station.

This section from the report describes how dual-voltage electrically-hauled freight trains would handle the electrification on the West London Line.

Although moving the changeover to Shepherd’s Bush would eliminate the need for passenger trains to slow down or stop at North Pole Junction, electrically hauled freight trains will still need to switch power supply modes whilst moving, wherever the AC/DC interface is located.

Due to the substantial incline facing trains running northward on the WLL, which increases in severity towards the Willesden end of the route, it would be preferable for the changeover to be made as far south as possible. This would enable freight trains to slow down to switch traction before reaching the worst of the gradient, giving them a much better chance of regaining line speed once drawing power from the OLE.

Although Kensington Olympia is less than a mile to the south of Shepherd’s Bush, the intervening route section is almost entirely level, with the incline commencing just before Shepherd’s Bush station and continuing to rise sharply along the rest of the WLL. The capacity and performance benefits of relocating the changeover are therefore likely to be greater if the overhead wires are extended to Kensington Olympia, removing the risk to traffic flow that would remain if freight trains were forced to switch whilst running uphill.

This would prepare the West London Line for the transition to electric freight that will be necessary as part of the decarbonisation of the railway over the next thirty years.

Resolving the current traction changeover issues for freight as well as passenger trains would support this transition by encouraging freight operators to invest in electric locomotives to run on the orbital routes, in the confidence that this constraint has been addressed.

Where is Network Rail’s guidance?

These are a few thoughts.

How Many Of The Freight Trains Through London Could Be Electrically-Hauled?

Most freight trains are hauled by diesel Class 66 locomotives.

But that doesn’t mean that these freight trains between say Ipswich and Cardiff are electrically-hauled on what is a fully-electrified route.

There are various reasons, why they aren’t.

  • There are large fleets of cheap, nasty and polluting Class 66 locomotives.
  • There isn’t many suitable electric locomotives.
  • The routes to major ports like Felixstowe, Immingham, London Gateway and Southampton are not electrified.
  • Many busy cross-country freight routes like Ipswich and Peterborough are not fully-electrified.

But powerful bi-mode electric-locomotives, like the Class 88 locomotives, that can do many tricky trips in the UK are available. Although there are only ten of them.

I have done a quick analysis and found the following.

  • There are a good proportion of lighter weight freight trains, that are not long and heavy.
  • There are a good proportion of freight trains running over routes that are electrified with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.
  • There are also some freight services, where a dual-voltage locomotive would be needed.
  • If a locomotive had a Last-Mile capability of perhaps forty miles, a lot of services could be electric-hauled.

Network Rail should do an analysis of all freight working in the various regions of the UK, to find out what are the needs of the electrically-hauled market in the various regions of the UK.

Could There Be A London Locomotive?

I wouldn’t want to get too regional, but looking at the figures, I think the following locomotive could be developed to handle freight trains in and through London.

I’m very much of the opinion, that the UK needs a battery-electric locomotive with the following capabilities.

  • The physical size and axle loading of a Class 68 or 88 locomotive.
  • Up to 4 MW when running on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Up to 2.5 MW when running on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Up to 2 MW for 30 minutes when running on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.

Note.

  1. The axle load of a Co-Co Class 66 locomotive is 21.6 tonnes.
  2. The axle load of a Bo-Bo Class 88 locomotive is 21.5 tonnes.

But the overall weight of the Class 66 locomotive is fifty percent higher.

I believe, that a locomotive with this specification could replace the ubiquitous, cheap, smelly, polluting and carbon-emitting Class 66 locomotive on a lot of duties. Especially, in London and the South East, where there is a lot of running on tracks with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

I believe that this locomotive would be able to haul some of the heaviest trains on these routes.

  • Ipswich and the Port of Liverpool via London.
  • Ipswich and Wentloog (Cardiff) via London.
  • Ipswich and Coatbridge via London.
  • Ipswich and Birmingham via London.
  • Ipswich and Crewe via London.

These routes cry out for the ability to be able to do the last miles into Felixstowe.

Ipswich And Felixstowe On Battery Power

If the diesel engine and all the associated gubbins are removed from a Class 88 locomotive, a battery with the same weight could be fitted into the locomotive, without unduly affecting handling or axle load.

Doing rough calculations, this battery would have a capacity of at least 1 MWh.

  • This battery would be able to supply 2.5 MW for twenty-four minutes, which would be a very valuable Last-Mile capability.
  • The battery would also enable regenerative braking to the battery, which would increase the energy efficiency of the locomotive.

These capabilities may open up the possibility of battery-electric haulage of some trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • Freight trains take around 32 minutes to travel from the Great Eastern Main Line to the port.
  • Freight trains take around 36 minutes to travel from the port to the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The route is fairly level although there is the climb over Spring Road viaduct.

If necessary, the route could be electrified, between the Great Eastern Main Line and Derby Road station.

  • The climb over the viaduct would be electrified.
  • Only 21 minutes of the route would not be electrified.

I believe that, it would be possible for Stadler to design a dual-mode battery-electric locomotive that could haul most of the heaviest trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

This would effectively decarbonise a large proportion of freight traffic on the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

Third-Rail Freight

In addition, a locomotive of this class, with a third-rail capability would be able to handle the numerous freight trains on the third-rail network.

With third-rail electrification, there are always worries that it can supply enough power.

  • A Class 66 locomotive has a diesel engine generating 2.5 MW.
  • An eight-car Class 700 train is rated at 3.3 MW. These trains are seen all over South London.
  • A Class 377 train is rated between 0.8 and 1.2 MW. Pairs of these trains are seen all over South London.

It would appear that an electric Class 66-sized locomotive would only draw the same power as typical trains on the third-rail network.

So perhaps a dual-voltage electric locomotive suitable for freight through much of South London, wouldn’t leave all of South London in the dark?

Junctions Which Need Upgrading

The London Rail Freight Strategy, identifies these junctions as needing an upgrade.

Would these junctions be easier to upgrade, if the designers of the junctions, knew that many more trains using the junction were to be hauled by powerful and spritely electric-haulage?

West London Line Issues

Two of the posts covering the London Rail Freight Strategy concern the AC/DC  switchover on the West London Line.

The proposed locomotive wouldn’t care where the switchover happened, as it would use batteries to achieve a smooth switchover.

Conclusion

The UK rail network needs a go-anywhere battery-electric locomotive.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Hull Trains’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains.

For this post, I will assume that the train is five cars long. This is the length of Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains.

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic.

This seems to give the same information and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

Hull Trains’s Services

Hull Trains run a train between Kings Cross and Hull, with some trains extending to Beverley.

  • The service runs at a frequency of five trains per day (tpd) to Hull station and two tpd to Beverley station.
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough and Cottingham

The Beverley service is 213 miles long and takes three hours and seven minutes.

These are facts about the operation of the service.

  • The train changes between diesel and electric operation at Temple Hirst Junction, which is on the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Temple Hirst Junction is forty-four miles from Beverley and thirty-six miles from Hull.
  • Trains to and from Beverley reverse at Hull and and are allowed eighteen minutes for the operation.
  • This reverse at Hull is enough time to charge the train’s batteries using a Fast-Charging system.

As these trains could have a range of at least fifty-five miles on battery power, is there any point to bother with diesel?

Could Hull Trains and TransPennineExpress Share A Fast-Charger?

In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?, I said this about their Manchester Piccadilly and Hull service.

As with the Scarborough and Redcar Central services, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Hull.

As Hull Trains and TransPennine Express are both First Group companies, I would assume they would share amicably!

But would they allow LNER’s Azumas to use their Fast-Charger?

Could Hull Station Go Zero-Carbon?

If all the Hitachi trains used by Hull Trains, LNER and TransPrnnine Express were to use battery power to run between Hull station and the nearest electrification, the only diesel trains using the station would be Northern‘s assortment.

Northern run services through or to Hull as follows.

  • Sheffield and Hull
  • Sheffield and Bridlington
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York

All services have a frequency of around one train per hour (tph).

These services could be run by either battery-electric or hydrogen-electric trains.

Hull station is also a big bus interchange, so these would need to be converted to electric or hydrogen.

I’m sure iTM Power not far away in Sheffield, would be happy to provide a hydrogen system to fuel the buses and the trains.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that if a Fast-Charging system, were to be fitted at Hull and used during reverse or turnround at the station, that a Class 802 train fitted with batteries could work Hull Train’s service without using a drop of diesel.

I can just see the advertising – Hull Trains – Your carbon-free way between London and Hull!

It wouldn’t even need any electrification, other than the Fast-Charging system at Hull.

I also believe that Hull station and the co-located bus station could go carbon-free.

 

February 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains

For this post, I will assume that the train is five cars long. This is the length of TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains.

TransPennine Express’s Services

These are TransPennine Express services that run in the North of England and to Scotland.

I shall go through all the services and see how they would be affected by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

Liverpool Lime Street And Edinburgh

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • Intermediate stations are Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth

The service is 305 miles long and takes four hours and 25 minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 220 miles – Electrified

Note that the distance between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, which is the only section of the route without electrification is sixty-three miles, which is just within the 55-65 mile battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

That is too close for my liking, as what happens, if the train gets delayed by an operational incident.

In this article on the BBC, which was published in August 2019 and is entitled Detailed TransPennine £2.9bn Rail Upgrade Plans Unveiled, the following is said.

  • The route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will be electrified.
  • Parts of this route will have two extra tracks.
  • The plans will be going to full consultation, later in the year.

This would mean that a route summary would be like this.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Colton Junction – 29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 220 miles – Electrified

The two sections without electrification are well within the 55-65 mile battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery electric train.

It should also be noted that the electrification between Newcastle and Edinburgh is rather down on power and needs upgrading.

I would suspect that Hitachi’s proposed battery electric train could handle this power deficiency by using the batteries.

Liverpool Lime Street And Scarborough

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Lea Green, Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Garforth, York, Malton and Seamer

The service is 142 miles long and takes two hours and 58 minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and York – 6 miles – Electrified
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles – Not Electrified

Between Liverpool Lime Street and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh service.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that a route summary would be like this.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified
  • Dewsbury and and Colton Junction – 29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and York – 6 miles – Electrified
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles – Not Electrified

As Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train has a range of 55-65 miles on battery power, it looks to me that this service could be handled by the train.

It would need a Fast Charge system at Scarborough to recharge the batteries to be able to return to York.

But, as the timetable allows a generous turn-round, fully-charging the batteries shouldn’t be a problem.

Manchester Airport And Newcastle

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Chester-le-Street

The service is 162 miles long and takes three hours and one minute.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 86 miles – Electrified

Between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the two Liverpool Lime Street services, that I discussed previously.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train could handle this route with ease.

Manchester Airport And Redcar Central

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Gatley, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby and Middlesbrough

The service is 162 miles long and takes three hours and fifteen minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Northallerton – 35 miles – Electrified
  • Northallerton and Redcar Central – 29 miles – Not Electrified

Between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the previously discussed services.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train could handle this route with ease.

As with the Scarborough service, a Fast-Charge system would probably be needed at Redcar Central.

Manchester Piccadilly And Hull

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Selby and Brough

The service is 94 miles long and takes two hours and four minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Huddersfield  – 25 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Hull – 52 miles – Not Electrified

Between Huddersfield and Leeds, the route is identical to the previously discussed services.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route.

As with the Scarborough and Redcar Central services, a Fast-Charge system would probably be needed at Hull.

Manchester Piccadilly And Huddersfield

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stalybridge, Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Slaithwaite

The service is 25 miles long and takes forty-three minutes.

The route is without electrification.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route with ease.

The train could charge at either end using the electrification.

Huddersfield And Leeds

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Deighton, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Batley, Morley and Cottingley

The service is 17 miles long and takes thirty-six minutes.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route with ease.

The train could charge at Leeds using the electrification.

Manchester Airport And Cleethorpes

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall Interchange, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby Town

The service is 124 miles long and takes two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

he route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Stockport – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Stockport and Sheffield  – 37 miles – Not Electrified
  • Sheffield and Doncaster – 19 miles – Not Electrified
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 52 miles – Not Electrified

There would need to be some en route charging and surely the easiest way to achieve this would be to extend the electrification at Doncaster to Sheffield.

As with the other services, a Fast-Charge system would probably be needed at Cleethorpes.

Manchester Airport And Glasgow Central Or Edinburgh Waverley Via Preston

This service is all-electric.

Conclusion

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train can handle all of TransPennine’s routes without using one drop of diesel.

What I have found interesting, is that the eight miles of electrification between Huddersfield and Dewsbury appears to make the operation of a battery-electric train a lot easier.

It looks like someone at Hitachi and Network Rail have taken a calculator to a decent hostelry and worked out a cunning plan!

 

 

 

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments