The Anonymous Widower

Government’s Bias Against Hydrogen Buses Challenged

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Industry leaders, campaign groups and academics today challenged the Government’s “deliberate” and “misjudged” bias against hydrogen buses in its pursuit of decarbonising public transport.

I do find this article a bit surprising.

  • We have had a couple of trials of hydrogen buses in London and Aberdeen and I can’t remember any serious adverse stories.
  • Jo Bamford has rescued Wrightbus and plans to make thousands of hydrogen-powered buses.
  • Councils seem keen on hydrogen-powered buses.
  • There has been articles praising hydrogen in quality newspapers.
  • It’s almost, as if someone in the Department of Transport, is saying No, for an illogical reason.

The government also seems to have given Alstom the nod to develop hydrogen trains.

Or has it?

I wrote Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon, almost exactly a year ago and nothing has happened.

The only valid excuse is that the Department for Transport is up to its neck in work for COVID-19!

 

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Abbey Line Passing Loop Proposed

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

Bricket Wood station used to be an important station on the Abbey Line, with grand buildings and a passing loop to allow trains to run a teo trains per hour (tph) service as opposed to the current inconvenient train every forty-five minutes.

Consultants have now said that a traditional passing loop, with a second platform and a bridge would cost up to £10million, which is probably not viable.

The Penryn Solution

The article says this about the consultants’ alternative solution.

The platform at Bricket Wood be lengthened such that trains stop at different ends of a single platform, similar to the solution adopted in Penryn on the branch line from Truro to Falmouth, which would help to minimise costs.

This Google Map shows Penryn station.

Note the long single platform in the station.

This section in the Wikipedia entry called Signalling, gives a full explanation of the method of operation at Penryn.

Truro-bound trains use the northern end of the station (Platform 2), arriving before the Falmouth-bound train, which will pass through the new loop and to the southern end of the platform (Platform 1), allowing the Truro-bound train to continue its journey north. This gives a rare situation in the United Kingdom where trains run on the right, instead of on the left as is usual in this country. Trains are scheduled to depart simultaneously for Truro and Falmouth.

Bricket Wood station already has a platform, that can take a comfortably take a four-car Class 319 train, as this Google Map shows.

Consider.

  • I estimate from Google Maps, that the single platform at Bricket Wood station is currently around 190 metres long.
  • Looking at the map, it might be possible to add another ten metres or so to the platform length.
  • The current Class 319 trains are 79.5 metres long or 159 metres for a pair.
  • It wouldn’t matter, if for reasons of safety, the front of the trains were allowed to extend for perhaps ten metres past the end of the platform.
  • There also appears to be space to put a second track alongside the current single track.

I also suspect, that Network Rail have track design software, that can precisely calculate the size and position of the points, so that the manoeuvre can be safely executed every time.

I very much feel, that a design can be produced, that will staff, passengers and regulators.

Can This Proposal Handle More Than Two tph?

If you look at the timings of the train, it takes eight minutes to run these legs.

  • Watford Junction and Bricket Wood
  • Bricket Wood and St. Albans Abbey

The times are identical, irrespective of direction.

If times are the same after installation of the novel loop. A train will take sixteen minutes plus however much time, it takes to turnback the train to get back to Bricket Wood.

As trains will be running every thirty minutes and both trains will leave Bricket Wood at the same time, the train must be able to run the out-and-back journey from Bricket Wood in thirty minutes or less.

  • The out and back legs both take eight minutes.
  • This means that the turnback time must be less than fourteen minutes.

Currently, turnback times are fourteen minutes or less.

  • If you look at four tph, there is a train every fifteen minutes. As each leg is eight minutes long, it would appear another method of operation will have to be used.
  • If you look at three tph, there is a train every twenty minutes. Would it be possible to turn back the trains in under four minutes? It might be possible, but it would be a tough call.

I would suspect, that for a reliable service, the proposed method of operation has a maximum frequency of two tph.

I suspect, that the only way to get more than two tph, would be to fully double track the route, with two platforms at all stations on the route.

Does The New Track Need To Be Fully-Electrified?

There would be around two hundred metres of new track and if electrification were to be installed, a pair of the current Class 319 trains could provide a two tph service.

Surely Network Rail can manage to put up this amount of new electrification without massive cost and time overruns?

Despite being over thirty years old, the Class 319 trains scrub-up well as these pictures show.

But what could be done if electrification was deemed to be outside the budget? Or it was decided that new zero-carbon trains should be used on the Abbey Line?

Battery trains are coming and there are several trains that can use both electric and battery power under development, in the UK, Europe, China and Japan.

Battery Power On The Abbey Line

Bricket Wood station is 3.5 miles from the Watford Junction end of the Abbey Line and perhaps three miles from the St. Albans end.

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 is not very challenging, as is the Abbey Line.

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

So if a four-car electric-battery hybrid train was to handle the whole of the 6.5 mile route, it would need a battery of between 156-260 kWh to go between Watford Junction and St. Albans Abbey stations and back. It would also need charging at one or both ends of the route.

But supposing trains used the current electrification between Watford Junction and Bricket Wood stations to both power the train and charge their batteries.

  • The trains would only be doing six miles on batteries, so the battery would be between 72-120 kWh.
  • Trains would raise and lower their pantographs at Bricket Wood station.
  • No new electrification would be required.
  • If trains needed to top-up their batteries, they would do this using the electrification in the two terminal stations.

It might even be preferential to remove electrification between St. Albans Abbey and Bricket Wood stations to save maintenance costs and improve safety.

Could West Midlands Trains’ Class 730 Trains Be Used?

The current franchise holder; West Midlands Trains has ordered a large fleet of Class 730 trains for services between London and the West Midlands and for local electric services in the West Midlands.

Included are thirty-six three-car trains for working suburban services across Birmingham. These have twenty-four metre long cars, so are eight metres shorter than the four-car Class 319 trains, so they are another possibility, unless their longer car length would cause problems in the Bricket Wood manoeuvre.

Should The Abbey Line Be Transferred To Transport for London?

There have been suggestions in the past, that the route be transferred to Transport for London.

I’ll leave the politics aside, but electric-battery hybrid versions of London Overground’s Class 710 trains, which will soon be serving Watford Junction station would probably be ideal.

As they are dimensionally similar to the Class 319 trains, they may also be able to work the route under electric power.

Conclusion

There are certainly, several affordable ways to improve the Abbey Line.

My preferred solution would be go for the Penryn solution, using a fleet of Class 319 trains.

  • Penryn seems to be working well.
  • Track would need to be re-laid through Bricket Wood station, to add the passing loop.
  • About two hundred metres of extra electrification would need to be erected.
  • There would probably need to be some modification to the signalling, as there was at Penryn.
  • Three trains as a minimum, would be needed, two for the service and one as a spare or as maintenance cover.
  • West Midlands Trains already have fifteen Class 319 trains, so finding a viable fleet in top-class condition, shouldn’t be difficult.
  • If slightly shorter trains could be needed, the trains might be able to be shortened to three-car trains.
  • Staff training would be minimal.
  • The current trains are liked by drivers.
  • The trains would be zero-carbon.
  • The current trains are in very good condition.
  • The current trains even have toilets, which are probably not needed on a six-and-a-half mile journey
  • If say in ten years time, new trains are needed, I suspect there will be fleets of suitable electric multiple units, less than eighty metres long.

It is probably the most affordable solution.

 

 

May 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators

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

This is the two introductory paragraphs.

The Department for Transport has awarded grants of around £350 000 to each of five projects which aim to develop technology to reduce the rail network’s carbon footprint.

The projects were selected under the second round of the DfT’s First of a Kind competition, run by Innovate UK as part of the DfT’s wider Accelerating Innovation in Rail programme.

These are the winners.

Project 1 Riding Sunbeams

I wrote about this technology in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand.

Project 2 Diesel Freight Carbon Reduction Technology

We all hate Class 66 locomotives, with their noise, vibration and pollution.

But an Essex company called Vortex Exhaust Technology has been awarded a grant to see if their free-flowing exhausts can tame, these most unfriendly of beasts.

They make this claim on their web site.

Vortex is the ONLY exhaust technology available that effectively eliminates back pressure, improving engine efficiency, boosting power and cutting emissions.

A Class 66 locomotive will be a tough challenge.

To see what the company can do for road vehicles, there is a case study at the bottom of this page.

But then they are Essex Boys! Performance is in the genes!

Project 3 CODD-P Hydraulic Pump

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Unipart Rail will undertake in-service testing of a commercial version of a digital displacement pump and electronic controller in place of a traditional hydraulic pump with swashplate design. This is expected to provide a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

It sounds like an idea from Artemis Intelligent Power in Edinburgh.

Project 4 Green Rail Exhaust After Treatment

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Leasing company Porterbrook will collaborate with Eminox to transfer an on-road exhaust after-treatment system widely fitted to heavy-duty vehicles to the railway environment, equipping a South Western Railway Class 158 DMU for in-service trials. This will enable the technical and commercial viability to be established, so it can be offered for widespread fitment.

There are currently 170 Class 158 trains and 30 of the closely-related Class 159 trains in service, so if this is successful, there won’t be a shortage of installations.

The picture shows one of East Midlands Trains, Class 158 trains.

 

It should also be said, that most Class 158 trains are in excellent condition, despite being nearly thirty years old.

Note that Porterbrook are involved. Train leasing companies seem to be getting increasingly involved with innovation.

Project 5 W2W Zero Emissions Power System

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Steamology’s Water 2 Water concept will use compressed hydrogen and oxygen gas in a ‘compact energy-dense steam generator’ to produce high pressure superheated steam to drive a turbine, which will generate electricity to charge the batteries as a ‘range extender’ for a Vivarail Class 230 multiple-unit produced from former London Underground vehicles.

It sounds to me, that the tabloids will say that this is the return of the steam train.

Conclusion

They are a broad spread of technology and I have this feeling, that the Department for Transport will get a sensible return for an outlay of around two million pounds.

But I suspect that the best and most profitable idea, will come, after a meeting between two or more of the award winners and their backers.

 

 

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments