The Anonymous Widower

Siemens Joins The Hydrogen-Powered Train Club

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Siemens Working On Fuel Cell-Powered Mireo Train.

Siemens Mobility’s Mireo is their next-generation electric multiple unit.

This description is from Wikipedia.

The railcars have an articulated design and aluminium carbodies, with 26 metres (85 ft) cab cars on each end of a trainset and 19 metres (62 ft) passenger cars between them, with trainsets between two and seven cars long. The use of aluminium, combined with new control systems, is intended to reduce energy use by up to 25%. compared to previous Siemens EMUs. The railcars can reach a top speed of up to 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph)

The first units were ordered in February 2017 by DB Regio, which ordered 24 three-car trainsets with a passenger capacity of 220 for service on its routes in the Rhine valley in southwestern Germany.

This train has a lot in common with other offerings from the major train manufacturers.

  • Light weight
  • Articulated design.
  • Sophisticated control systems.
  • Low energy use.

Is it a case of engineering minds thinking alike?

The Global Rail New article says this about the hydrogen-powered trains.

Siemens is partnering up with Canadian manufacturer Ballard Power Systems to develop a fuel cell engine for its new Mireo train platform.

The two companies have signed a Development Agreement to produce a 200 kilowatt fuel cell engine to power a Mireo multiple unit.

The first fuel cell-powered Mireo could be running by 2021, Siemens and Ballard have announced.

There is a page on the Ballard web site, which lists their fuel cell engines called FCVeloCity.

  • FCVeloCity-MD – 30 kW
  • FCVeloCity-HD – 60kW, 85kW, 100kW
  • FCVeloCity-XD – 200 kW

I would assume that as there is no product sheet for the XD, that the 200 kW unit is still in development.

The first application would appear to be the Siemens Mireo.

Is Two Hundred Kilowatt Enough Power?

Bombardier’s four-car Class 387 train, is a typical electric muiltiple unit, that has been built in the last few years.

It has an installed power of 1.68 megawatts or 420 kW per car.

Porterbrook’s brochure says this about the two diesel engines in their Class 769 train, which is a bi-mode conversion of a Class 319 train.

The engine is a MAN D2876 LUE631 engine which generates 390 kW at 1800 rpm, giving an acceptable power output.

So that works out at 195 kW per car.

Both these trains have similar performance to the Siemens Mireo.

  • The trains will be substantially heavier than the Mireo.
  • The trains will do a lot of acceleration under electrification.

The 200 kW of the Mireo, isn’t much compared with the current generation of train.

As with the Alstom Coradio iLint, that I wrote about in Is Hydrogen A Viable Fuel For Rail Applications?, I suspect the Mireo has the following features.

  • Use of batteries to store energy.
  • Regenerative braking will use the batteries.
  • Selective use of electrification to drive the train directly.
  • Intelligent control systems to select appropriate power.

Given that the light weight will also help in the energy-expensive process of electrification, the intelligent control system is probably the key to making this train possible.

Will The Train Have One Or Two Hydrogen Power Units?

Wikipedia says this about the layout of the train.

The railcars have an articulated design and aluminium carbodies, with 26 metres (85 ft) cab cars on each end of a trainset and 19 metres (62 ft) passenger cars between them, with trainsets between two and seven cars long.

The trend these days in modern trains, is to fit large numbers of axles with traction motors for fast acceleration and smooth regenerative braking. As an Electrical Engineer, I believe that the most efficient electrical layout, would be for any car with motors to have some form of energy storage.

Have Siemens designed the train to use two identical cab cars?

  • These are longer to meet higher crash-protection standards.
  • Any diesel or hydrogen generator would be in these cars.
  • Energy storage would be provided.

Two cab cars with generators would have 400 kW, which would be more likely to be an acceptable power level.

Would the intermediate passenger cars be powered or just trailer cars?

I very much believe that the ideal intermediate cars should be powered and have a battery for regenerative braking.

Will Other Companies Join The Hydrogen Club?

Alstom, who are merging their train business with Siemens have announced orders for the Coradia iLint, so they are obviously a full-paid up member.

Bombardier have said nothing, but like Ballard, they are a Canadian company.

The key though, is that modern intelligent train control systems, which are used by all train manufacturers, have been designed to do the following.

  • Select appropriate power from electrification, battery or an on-board diesel generator.
  • Deploy pantograph and third-rail shoe as required.
  • Drive the train in an efficient manner.

Just swap the diesel generator for a hydrogen one.

Having a light weight, energy efficient train design will also help.

Conclusion

Expect hydrogen-powered trains from most manufacturers.

 

 

 

November 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

I like the New Routemaster and I use them regularly as five of the routes running close to my house use the buses.

So when I saw that Wright SRM buses, which are based on the New Routemaster, were being trialled on Route 183, I had to take a ride.

I went between Golders Green and Kenton stations.

In my view the bus has three major design faults compared to the New Routemaster.

The Floor Is No Longer Flat

The New Routemaster has a completely flat floor, whereas this bus doesn’t.

I suspect that this is because the bus is based on a standard Volvo B5LH chassis to save money, whereas the New Routemaster used a custom design.

Front Entry Only

One of the great features of the New Routemaster is that you can get in at any door, as there are card readers on all doors.

Drivers take advantage of this and often seem to stop the bus, so passengers can board quickly.

This must mean that they keep to the timetable better!

The Bus Is Rather Gloomy Inside

I sat towards the back, as I often do on New Routemasters, but the bus is so gloomy, as there is no windows facing to the rear.

Conclusion

I very much feel that someone needs to design a better bus chassis, as the standard Volvo chassis means that a flat floor and a light and airy interior, which are so important in my view, seem to be impossible.

Wrightbus can do a lot better.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Class 707 Train

I had my first ride in a Class 707 train today, from Clapham Junction station to Waterloo station.

I had expected a few glaring faults, as South Western Railway is dropping the trains.

But there are some good features.

  • Wide doors and spacious lobbies.
  • Free wi-fi, unlike the closely-related Class 700 trains.
  • Power scokets, unlike the Class 700 trains
  • Large litter bins.
  • Reasonably comfortable and spacious seats.
  • Walk-through.

And a few bad ones.

  • No 4G signal booster.
  • No full-length walk-through as two five-car trains, rather than one ten-car train.
  • A high step into and out of the train.

But they are certainly better than Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

The current schedule between Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations appears to be something like this.

  • Waterloo to Windsor and Eton – 54 minutes
  • Turnback at Windsor and Eton – 31 minutes
  • Windsor and |Eton to Waterloo – 56 minutes
  • Turnback at Waterloo – 9 minutes

Which works out at a very neat two and a half hours for the round trip.

So for a two trains per hour (tph) service you need five trains.

The timetable is written around 75 mph Class 455 trains, but the Class 707 trains are 100 mph units with a shorter dwell time at stations.

In each direction, there are twelve stops, which will give savings of at least a minute at each stop, due to the faster acceleration and smoother regenerative braking.

So assuming a minute is saved at each stop, that brings the round trip time to 126 minutes. Reduce the turnback time at Windsor and Eton Riverside and I feel it would be possible to do the round trip in under two hours.

Which would mean that the current two tph service would need four trains.

From Twickenham station, the route is fairly straight and this may enable more speed improvements on the route.

The Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside service is a classic example of how running faster trains often needs less trains to provide the same or even a better service.

Conclusion

I could see trains taking forty minutes on this route.

With the possible savings on the Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside service, you can understaqnd, why this is the first route to receive the new trains.

 

September 28, 2017 Posted by | News, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Details In A Class 345 Train Interior

These pictures were taken of internal details of a Class 345 train.

Various thoughts.

Cantilevered Seats

The bays of four-seats are cantilevered to the sides of the train, which means the space underneath the seat is available for luggage and well-behaved dogs.

Heating

It would appear that the heating is under the Metro-style seating.

As I said in Aventras Have Under Floor Heating, it would appear that the Greater Anglia Aventras do have under-floor heating, so perhaps this is a customer-chosen option, more suited to longer-distance routes.

The Lobbies

East car in the Class 345 train, has three sets of doors and lobbies.

Note how each lobby has a central handrail and two vertical handrails in each corner. One of these is just behind the door and you can grab it from outside.

Metro-Style Seating

I have not travelled in the Peak, so I don’t know how the seats perform with a full load, but this type of seating works well in the Overground’s Class 378 trains.

Note how the Class 378 seats have wider armrests and are not so open underneath. That vertical handrail in front of the seats can get in the way too!

The Class 378 trains were introduced in 2009, so the differences are probably down to eight years of design and advanced manufacturing.

Armrests

The armrests have received praise in some reports and they appear to work.

Note how in the metro-style seating the armrests have two levels.

Conclusion

As the first Aventra to enter service, it is a very good effort.

Certainly finding criticism of these interiors is difficult.

If you’re in London and want to go to the Olympic Park or the Eastfield Shopping Centre at Stratford, why not forsake the Jubilee and Central Lines of the Underground and take one of these new trains from Liverpool Street.

There are four trains in service at the present time, but by the end of the year, there will be eleven, so there is an improving chance you’ll get a ride in the best commuter train, in which I’ve ever ridden.

 

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

The Rise Of One-Platform Stations

As I was writing DfT Names Five Winners Of Fresh £16m Stations Fund,  I came to the conclusion that a lot of well-designed one-platform stations have been built since the turn of the millennium.

New one-platform stations include.

  • Alloa – Scotland – Reopened 2008 – Commuter and terminal station
  • Alesbury Vale Parkway – Bucks – Opened 2008 – Park-and-Ride, commuter and terminal station.
  • Beauly – Scotland – Reopened 2002 – £250,000 – 75% of local commuters switched from road to rail.
  • Brunstane – Scotland – Opened 2002 – Commuter station
  • Chandler’s Ford – Hampshire – Reopened 2003 – Commuter station
  • Chatelherault – Scotland – Reopened 2005 – Commuter station.
  • Conon Bridge – Scotland – Reopened 2013 – £600,000 – Local station
  • Cranbrook – Devon – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • Ebbw Vale Parkway – Wales – Opened 2008 – Park-and-Ride and commuter station.
  • Ebbw Vale Town – Opened 2015 – Commuter and terminal station.
  • Eskbank – Scotland – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • Fishguard and Goodwick – Wales – Reopened 2012 – £325,000 – Local station and bus interchange.
  • Galashiels – Scotland – Reopened 2015 – Commuter station and bus interchange.
  • Gorebridge – Scotland – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • James Cook – Teeside – Opened 2014 – £2.2million – Serves the hospital
  • Kelvindale – Scotland – Reopened 2005 – Commuter station
  • Llanhilleth – Wales – Reopened 2008 – Commuter station
  • Merryton – Scotland – Opened 2005 – Commuter station
  • Newbridge – Wales – Reopened 2008 – Commuter station
  • Newcourt – Devon – Opened 2015 – £4million – Commuter station.
  • Newcraighall – Scotland – Opened 2002 – Park-and-Ride
  • Newtongrange – Scotland – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • Pye Corner – Wales – £3.5million – Commuter station
  • Rogerstone – Wales – Opened 2008 – Commuter station

That is a total of twenty-four stations including three termini since 2000.

Several of the stations are on three reopened or new lines.

The three routes have sections of single-track.

How many more one-platform stations will we see in the next few years?

  • They must be more affordable.
  • They don’t need expensive pedestrian bridges.
  • They are usually step-free.
  • They can be as long as you need
  • They are ideal for single-track lines without electrification.

On the other hand there may be signalling and safety issues.

Integrated Design Of Rail Routes, Stations And Trains

If you look at the design of a new or reopened railway line like the Borders Railway, there have been various complaints from residents, commuters, railway purists and tourists.

  • Why wasn’t it built as double-track throughout?
  • There is no siding to help if a train brakes down.
  • Parking is insufficient.
  • The capacity of the trains is small.
  • The trains are old and tired.
  • The trains perform poorly.

A lot of the complaints can be blamed on the need to deliver the railway on a minimum cost.

But, I also believe that if the line had been designed to fit around a small fleet of trains, designed specifically for the route, then more money could have been saved and the railway would offer a better service to everyone.

Imagine a train with these characteristics.

  • At least four comfortable carriages.
  • Ability to run on electricity, where 25 KVAC overhead electrification is available.
  • Ability to run on diesel or batteries, where there is no electrification.
  • Change of power mode would be automatic and at line speed.
  • Level access to Harrington Humps at all stations for those needing step-free access.
  • Integrated CCTV between train and stations, so train crew can check if there are any possible problems or passengers who need assistance as they approach a station.
  • Wi-fi and 4G, although the latter might be difficult on the Borders Railway.
  • An onboard ticket machine, so late passengers can board without a ticket and the conductor is busy.

The train doesn’t need to be new, but designed for the route and of refurbished to a high standard.

I believe that train designers can come up with a train that would be more efficient to operate at stations, so that time-keeping would be spot on.

A Rail Link To Saint Andrews

I will use this rail link as an example, because of the importance of the historic City and its links to golf.

The length of the route by road between Leuchars station and Saint Andrews is 5.8 miles.

This is not much longer than the 4.4 miles of the Greenford Branch Line in West London, which has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

The service is provided by a single Class 165 train. So I suspect, a single train could maintain a two tph shuttle between Leuchars station and Saint Andrews.

The minimum infrastructure to sustain this two tph service would be as follows.

  • A single bay platform at Leuchars station.
  • A single platform terminus at Saint Andrews.
  • Perhaps a single platform station for golfing visitors convenient for the courses.
  • All platforms would be able to handle six car trains.
  • A single track would connect all the stations.

But surely this is not good enough for Saint Andrews.

  • A passing loop could be provided at halfway.
  • There must also be the possibility of a triangular junction to link the rail link to the main line.

Doing both, might allow four tph and direct trains from Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow to Saint Andrews.

 

 

 

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

Battery EMUs For Merseyrail

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

This is the first paragraph.

Two of the new EMUs Stadler will build for the Merseyrail network will be fitted with batteries.

This is also said.

The initial benefits of the trial will be the energy recycling properties of the batteries, but with a larger battery the option could be to run the units away from the electrified Merseyrail network using battery power.

Other reports suggest that battery power could move the trains in depots.

Another report in the same edition of Modern Railways is entitled Class 769s For Wales.

It discusses the use of Class 769 trains on the Borderlands Line.

This is said.

Would safety regulations permit Class 769s, or other third-rail EMUs retrofitted with diesel engines, to operate the Wrexhm-Bidston Line and continue in the Mersey tunnels to Liverpool? No definite answer was available as Modern Railways went to press. Each bi-mode unit would displace pnly one two-car Class 150/2 unit from the line, but studies have predicted large growth in passenger numbers if the change of trains at Bidston were eliminated.

It is an interesting concept.

  • Porterbrook have already talked about converting Class 455 trains into bi-modes.
  • These third-rail units don’t have pantographs to snag in the tunnels.
  • They have been refurbished to a high standard in recent years.
  • The fuel safety problem in the tunnel, is something for which Formula One engineers may have a ready-made solution.

I’m sure if it does happen, Scouse humour will go into overdrive, about London cast-offs and old trains. But Class 455 bi-mode trains would have the last laugh.

Conclusion

It is encouraging to see in these two articles signs of radical but in my view totally sound thinking.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gibbs Report – More Station Shelters Should Be Installed

The Gibbs Report, says that more station shelters should be installed.

The Gibbs Report says this about shelters.

When the decisions were taken to lengthen most services to 12 cars, and the trains were ordered, one element of the overall system was missed: the provision of shelters at stations. It is noticeable how, on wet days, peak passengers board together from places of shelter, causing overcrowding at that point and sub threshold delays at numerous stations. Most stations, whether large or small, do not have shelter along the full length of the platform, or a canopy. Even Gatwick Airport, is an example of this: fine on the sunny daypicture, but inadequate in the rain.

So it looks like the lack of shelters is a cause of train delays.

Conclusion

I have just watched the updating of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, where several new shelters have been added.

I am very surprised GTR didn’t realise the importance of shelter for passengers.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

An Architecture Firm Wants To Turn The London Underground’s Entire Circle Line Into A Three-Lane Travelator

The title of this post is the headline on an article in the Independent.

It is rather an old chestnut and I think it’s been suggested before and even tried out in at Montparnasse station in Paris in 2002.

One of the railway web sites pointed out that the Circle Line in London is also used by District, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Line trains, so it would be rather difficult to design.

But I do think we could do with a few more travelators, escalators and lifts in London.

And in some stations Crossrail and other projects will bring these sorts of improvements sooner rather than later.

The Massive Liverpool Street/Moorgate station for Crossrail

Crossrail will combine the two Underground stations of Liverpool Street and Moorgate.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the two stations.

Note how Crossrail, which is shown in a purpley blue, lies between the two stations, with the Northern Line at the West and the Central Line at the East.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note how escalators lead down at both ends and you can effectively walk between the two stations with assistance from escalators at both ends..

Passengers arriving on Crossrail will be able to get out of the Eastern end of the platforms and access the following lines.

  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Liverpool Street National Rail services.
  • Metropolitan Line

At the Western end of the platforms, there is access to the following lines.

  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Moorgate National Rail services.
  • Northern Line

Both entrances will be very much within walking distance to a lot of the Northern parts of the City of London.

And all routes inside the complex will be step-free with lots of escalators and lifts.

Regularly, I travel on trains into and out of Liverpool Street station and I often get to and from the station  by walking between the two stations, as I get a bus to and from Moorgate,

When it is raining heavily as it used to in the past, I will be able to use the Crossrail platforms and two long escalators.

When Crossrail is open through this massive station, thousands or even millions  of passengers will change their journeys because of the numerous new routes that will be available.

Paddington

Paddington station will be very much improved interchange.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

In the building of the Crossrail station, a tunnel with full step-free access is being dug under the concourse of the main line station to connect the Bakerloo Line to the Crossrail station. This article in Rail Technology Magazine which is entitled Contract awarded for £40m Bakerloo Line link, gives a lot more details on the tunnel and its building.

I do think that, the techniques used in the building of this tunnel will find applications in other places.

Tottenham Court Road

Tottenham Court Road station will become a double-ended station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note Centre Point at the Eastern end of the complex.

The Eastern end of the platforms will have access to the Central and Northern Lines and numerous entrances in front of Centre Point. Much of this work is now substantially complete.

The Western end of the platforms will have access to  a new entrance on Oxford Street, just North of Soho Square.

As Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road will have a lot more pedestrian access, travelling to the area will be transformed.

Bond Street

Bond Street station will become an enormous double-ended station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station and the nearby Oxford Circus station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note the football pitches, which give an idea of size.

Bond Street station will have an interchange at the Western end with the Central and Jubilee Lines, but it will mainly be a station with entrances all over the place.

I have a feeling that Bond Street will the station of choice for most shoppers going to and from the area in the future.

If you’re using Crossrail, just make sure that you get in the right end of the two hundred metre long trains.

Oxford Circus

No work is planned here at present, although I think the station will suffer collateral benefits from the following projects.

  • The new Eastern entrance to Bond Street station, which will be ideal for John Lewis.
  • The pedestrianisation in the area.
  • Works to improve the Bakerloo Line, prior to its extension to Lewisham.

Oxford Street station needs more passenger capacity and is scheduled to be rebuilt in the next ten years or so.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that if a block anywhere close to Oxford Circus gets redeveloped, Transport for London will be investigating how to get much-needed lifts to the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines.

I have a feeling that we could see something special at Oxford Circus station.

I wouldn’t discount a travelator connection between Oxford Circus station and the Eastern entrance to Bond Street station.

Bank

After Crossrail, the biggest station project in London is Bank station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

This visualisation, shows what the new Bank station will look like.

Bank Tube Station Layout

The development is comprehensive.

  • Two new entrances at Walbrook and Cannon Street.
  • Full step-free access with lots of new lifts and escalators.
  • Two travelators running North-South through the station.
  • A new tunnel for the the Northern Line, with wider platforms.
  • Escalator connection between Central and Northern Lines.
  • Better connection to the Waterloo and City Line and the Docklands Light Railway.

Completion dates look like 2017 for the Walbrook entrance and 2021 for the completed Bank station.

In some ways Bank station can be considered a Crossrail station, that isn’t on Crossrail.

But it is on the route of one of Crossrail’s little helpers; the Central Line.

Travellers will do one of the following.

  • From the Eastern branch of Crossrail,, they will walk across the platform at Stratford station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From the Western branch of Crossrail, they will change at Tottenham Court Road station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From any of the three Crossrail branches, they could use the Central or Northern Lines from Liverpool Street/Moorgate for one stop.

I would walk!

I think that this development will have one of the largest effects of any non-Crossrail  transport-related project in London.

I also think that the expansion of Bank station sets a very good precedent.

Both the new Walbrook and Cannon Street entrances are being incorporated into new commercial developments in the area. I know land in the City of London is probably some of the most expensive in the World, but how many improved stations could incorporate housing, retail or commercial development, or perhaps even a hospital.

Victoria

Victoria station is undergoing a major upgrade.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

Progress has been made with a new entrance on Victoria Street and better connections between the three Underground Lines.

In some ways the biggest triumph at Victoria has been the ability to keep the station working fully, whilst the work is continuing.

A Philosophy For Better Underground Stations

 Common threads goes through all of the Underground stations I’ve detailed.
  • A large number of passengers.
  • More than one line.
  • Development above the station.
  • Innovative tunnelling.
  • Keeping the stations open if possible.

It would also appear that generally the construction companies do a good job and must be accumulating a large amount of knowledge and experience.

So where will they be using their skills next?

A Few Suggestions follow.

One Line Step-Free Stations

This group aren’t Underground stations, in the true sense of the word, but are a collection of Overground, Crossrail and National Rail stations in London that are being updated to full step-free access.

Included are.

Note that Crossrail will mean that twenty-four suburban stations will receive full step-free access.

Network Rail publishes this page on their web site, which is entitled Access For All – A-Z of station improvements.

It gives at least a clue to Network ail’s plans for particular stations.

 

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Close Up To A Class 345 Train At Liverpool Street Station

These pictures of a Class 345 train, were taken in Liverpool Street station.

I also had a chat with a group of drivers.

  • The drivers find the trains well-built, quiet and fast.
  • One driver said they were effectively two half trains.
  • Drivers seemed enthusiastic or jealous depending if they’ve driven one.
  • Greater Anglia’s drivers were crawling all over the cab!
  • There is masses of space under the trains.
  • They are virtually silent as they move off!

The services start on Tuesday, the 23rd of May.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Shipley Station

Shipley station is one of the few triangular stations in the UK, as this Google Map shows.

As I passed through, I took these pictures.

It certainly, is a station, that needs more information and better sign[posting.

But mainly, it shows how building a station in a triangular junction is a complicated affair.

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment