The Anonymous Widower

Innovative Composite Masts Look To Reduce Cost And Increase Efficiency Of Rail Electrification

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on New Civil Engineer.

This is the sub-title.

Engineering consultancy Furrer+Frey will this week unveil its innovative composite masts for rail electrification, which could revolutionise the way that rail electrification is undertaken.

Other points from the article include.

  • Development has been undertaken with Cranfield, Southampton and Newcastle Universities and Prodrive and TruckTrain.
  • The project was part funded by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK through the First Of A Kind competition.
  • The first composite masts have been created and tested at St Bride’s feeder station, just outside Newport in Wales.

This Google Map shows the area, where the test will take place.

Note.

  1. The South Wales Main Line crossing the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Newport station is to the East and Cardiff station is to the West.
  3. The St. Brides feeder station alongside the railway, by the Green Lane bridge.

I would assume that the connection to the National Grid is via the St. Brides 25 kV Substation in the North-West corner of the map.

The article lists the features of the design.

  • A typical steel mast weighs 750 Kg., whereas a composite mast weight just 80 Kg.
  • I suspect that these masts can be lifted around by a couple of average workers.
  • They have lower wind resistance.
  • Piles can be less deep. The prototype piles are 1.25 m., as against many that are over four metres on recent schemes.
  • The piles have sensors to detect, when they are out of kilter and need replacing.
  • Currently, wonky masts need to be identified by hands-on measurement or observant drivers.
  • Two masts have been tested to destruction, to see if they match the theory.

But this to me as an Electrical Engineer is the clincher.

Furrer+Frey GB head of UK projects Noel Dolphin says this about the new design.

When they do take it to a mass manufacturing stage, it will be without carbon fibre inside, which presents another opportunity. The other ultimate goal is that the structure is insulating in itself. It’s another big saving if you can remove the insulators on the electrification cantilevers, as they’re expensive in themselves.

It’s all going the way of much more affordable electrification.

I have a few further thoughts.

The Involvement Of Prodrive

Prodrive are best known for their involvement in motorsport, as the home page of their web site indicates.

But as their site also indicates they get involved in other forms of high-performance disruptive engineering, where their experience is relevant.

Prodrive build the prototypes, but won’t build the production masts, although I suspect, their expertise will be used.

The TruckTrain

TruckTrain is a concept with roots in Coventry University that could be off-beam enough to be the new normal.

I have updated my thoughts on the TruckTrain and it is now in a post called The TruckTrain.

My Conclusion About TruckTrains

I like the concept and I can’t see why it would not be successful worldwide.

The Involvement Of TruckTrain With Furrer+Frey

This puzzled me for a time, as undoubtedly, the TruckTrain will be able to use standard electrification.

But in the TruckTrain leaflet, they mention that the TruckTrain has been designed to use single-track short-terminals.

So did they approach Furrer+Frey to find out about electrifying short terminals and the Swiss company felt TruckTrain was a concept they could support?

Obviously, if the TruckTrain is developed to be a battery-electric train, some mini freight terminals will need the ability to charge the TruckTrain.

Could A TruckTrain Be Used to Support Electrification?

Would a TruckTrain be the ideal support vehicle to erect or repair electrification?

If you take the problem, when the wires have been damaged, a TruckTrain could get to the site at 100 mph, much faster than a truck on the road. It could also have a platform to lift the engineers for inspection and repair.

A TruckTrain could be more than just a transport system.

Conclusion

Furrer + Frey’s lightweight composite electrification masts are a good idea.

Teamed with TruckTrains, they could prove a very powerful freight concept, where new mini freight terminals are needed.

 

 

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Agreement Will Drive Rail Decarbonisation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Porterbrook.

This is the important part of the press release.

Rolls-Royce is teaming up with Porterbrook to identify and develop technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality across the rail network. The two companies, who have signed a memorandum of understanding, will investigate the potential for the use of synthetic and net zero fuels, including hydrogen, both in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. Building on their recent success of jointly introducing hybrid battery-diesel railcars into passenger service, the two companies will also explore the potential for advanced hybridisation.

The relationship also includes considering the role of the wider rail ecosystem in decarbonisation, including fuel chain supply, infrastructure and operational models that can aid innovation and the transition to net zero.

The UK’s railway accounts for approximately 1% of all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions* and the Government’s ambition is to remove all diesel-only trains – both passenger and freight – from the network by 2040 and achieve a net zero rail network by 2050. The UK Government has identified a number of different routes to this target including alternative forms of power such as hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries, hybrid-electric and sustainable fuels.

Rolls-Royce have issued a similar press release.

I believe this agreement could result in significant benefits to the UK rail industry, in respect to reduction in diesel consumption, noise and carbon emissions.

Examples could include.

Unfortunately, I can’t add more examples as there is no Porterbrook fleet list on their web site.

February 14, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

The UK’s first 100mph battery-diesel hybrid train is entering passenger service to cut carbon emissions and boost air quality.

It was developed by adding a powerful battery to a 20-year-old diesel train to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 25%, according to owner Porterbrook.

The firm added that the two-carriage train, named HybridFLEX, also provides a 75% decrease in noise and a 70% decrease in nitrogen oxide.

The battery-diesel hybrid transmission is from MTU, who are a Rolls-Royce company and they go further with this press release which is entitled World Premiere: MTU Hybrid PowerPack From Rolls-Royce Enters Passenger Service.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce, Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways are making rail history together with a climate-friendly world premiere: A hybrid diesel-battery-electric train that reduces CO2 emissions by up to 25% entered passenger service in the UK today for the first time. The so-called HybridFLEX train is powered by two mtu Hybrid PowerPacks and is operated by Chiltern Railways on the route between London Marylebone and Aylesbury. Together with the leasing company Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways, Rolls-Royce has converted a Class 168 DMU into the HybridFLEX train. The partners are proving that existing rail vehicles can be used in a climate-friendly way without the need to install complex and expensive new infrastructure. It is the world’s first regular passenger operation with mtu Hybrid PowerPacks, of which 13 have already been ordered.

This is significant for the railways of the UK.

The train that has been converted is a Class 168 train, which itself had been converted from a Class 170 train, when it transferred to Chiltern Railways in 2016.

I think this means that all Bombardier Turbostars in Classes 168, 170, 171 and 172 can probably be fitted with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

That is the following numbers of trains and cars.

  • Class 168 – 28 trains – 86 cars
  • Class 170 – 139 trains – 372 cars
  • Class 171 – 20 trains – 56 cars
  • Class 172 – 39 trains – 93 cars

Note.

  1. This totals to 226 trains and 607 cars.
  2. As each car has an engine, this will be an order of 607 PowerPacks, if all trains were to be converted.

This could certainly help to meet the Government’s aim of getting rid of all diesel only trains by 2040.

Can The CAF Civities Be Converted?

There are three Classes of CAF Civity diesel multiple units; 195, 196 and 197, all of which have Rolls-Royce MTU engines.

Could these be converted to hybrid operation by the swapping of the current diesel engines for MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

I would suspect they could, as the CAF Civity trains might have been designed after MTU disclosed plans of the MTU Hybrid PowerPack to train builders prior to its announcement in September 2018.

Conclusion

MTU Hybrid PowerPacks could go a long way to eliminating diesel-only trains on UK railways. They could even run the diesels on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to lower their carbon-footprint further.

 

February 10, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Northern Seeks Battery-Hybrid Class 195 Variant

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

This is the introduction to the article.

Northern Trains is seeking to introduce a battery-diesel hybrid version of its CAF Class 195 diesel multiple-units.

The article makes these points.

  • The trains will be used on the lines modernised under the TransPennine Upgrade.
  • Offers for trains with finance is being requested.
  • Technology similar to Chiltern Rail’s Class 165 Hydrive train from Magtec would be ideal.

But I am not sure that this is the right train.

In How Much Electrification Will There Be In The TransPennine Route Upgrade?, I came to this conclusion.

By electrifying all the lines in the TransPennine Upgrade, it would allow all the stopping and slower services to be run by battery-electric trains.

I also said that battery-electric trains from both Hitachi and CAF had enough range to work all the TransPennine routes.

Given that I had my first ride in a battery-electric train in 2015, they have certainly been a long time coming.

It’s almost, as if the Men from the Ministry believe that battery trains will be inferior to diesel.

January 13, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 46 Comments

More On Batteries On Class 802 Trains

In the December 2021 Edition there’s an article called Battery Trial For TPE ‘802’.

Class 802 trains are now involved in two battery trials.

This article puts some flesh of the bones of the two trials.

It is hoped that replacing one diesel engine (generator unit) with a battery pack will enable the following.

  • Reduction of carbon emissions by at least 20 %.
  • Reduction of fuel consumption.
  • The ability to rely on battery power when entering and leaving stations to reduce noise pollution and emissions.

This paragraph explains a possible way the trains will be operated.

Another option is to use the battery to provide ‘classic’ hybridisation efficiency, allowing most diesel running to be done fuel-efficiently under two engines rather than three. In this case, the battery module would provide top-up power for peak demand and give regenerative braking capability when operating in diesel mode, which the trains currently do not have.

This is one of the aims of the GWR trial and I suspect anybody, who has owned and/or driven a hybrid car will understand Hitachi’s thinking.

The next paragraph is very revealing.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

It looks to me that Hyperdrive Innovation will earn their fees for the battery design and manufacture.

This picture shows the underneath of a Class 802 train.

Note.

  • The car is 26 metres long
  • The car is 2.75 metres wide.
  • The MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 802 train, each weigh around two tonnes.
  • The engines have a power output of 700 kW

I would think that the 6 x 2.2 m battery would fit under the car easily.

As an engineer, who has evaluated all sorts of weight and balance problems, I would make the battery similar in weight to the diesel engine. This would mean that the existing mountings for the diesel engine  should be able to support the battery pack. It would also probably mean that the handling of a car with a diesel engine and one with a battery pack should be nearer to being identical.

Tesla claim an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg for their batteries, which would mean a battery with the weight of one of the diesel engines could have a capacity of around 500 kWh.

As a Control Engineer, I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation have a tricky problem to get the algorithm right, so that the trains perform equally well under all conditions. But with a good simulation and lots of physical testing, getting the algorithm right is very much a solvable problem.

The article says this about the reliability of the diesel engines or generator units (GU) as Hitachi call them.

Whilst reliability of the generator units (GU) has improved, operators of the bi-mode sets still report frequent issues  which see sets ending their daily diagram with one out of use.

I wonder, if battery packs will improve reliability.

From statements in the article, it looks like Hitachi, MTU and the train operating companies are being cautious.

The article also says this about the design of the battery packs.

The battery pack has been designed so it is a like-for-like replacement for a GU, which can maintain or improve performance, without compromising on seats or capacity.

I have always said it would be plug-and-play and this would appear to confirm it.

How Will The Batteries Be Charged?

I showed this paragraph earlier.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

GWR and TPE run their Class 802 trains to several stations without electrification. and they will probably need some method of charging the battery before leaving the station.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Note.

  1. This infographic was published with the Hitachi press release announcing the development of the tri-mode train for GWR.
  2. One diesel engine has been replaced by a battery pack.
  3. Charging the battery can be under wires or 10-15 minutes whilst static.
  4. At some stations like Exeter St. Davids, Penzance, Plymouth or Swansea, heavily-laden services might need the assistance of batteries to get up to operating speed.

The infographic released with the Hitachi press release announcing the trials for TPE.

It is similar, but it says nothing about charging.

So how will these trains be charged in stations like Hull, Middlesbrough. Penzance, Scarborough and Swansea, so they leave on their return journey with a full battery?

Consider.

  • The formation of a five-car Class 802 train is DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF.
  • Pantographs appear to be on both driver cars.
  • The middle three cars have diesel engines.
  • Only the middle three cars have traction motors.
  • There is probably a high-capacity electrical bus running the length of the train, to enable electricity to power all the cars from either or both paragraphs, when running on an electrified line.

The simplest way to charge the batteries would probably be to install a short lengthy of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the station and then to charge the batteries the driver would just raise the pantograph and energise the electrical bus, which would then feed electricity to the batteries.

I wrote about Furrer + Frey’s Voltap charging system in Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested. This charging system would surely work with Hitachi’s designs as batteries can be charged from overhead electrification.

Conclusion

I suspect that Hitachi will achieve their objectives of saving fuel and cutting emissions.

But there is more than this project to just replacing one diesel engine with a battery pack  and seeing what the savings are.

It appears that the battery packs could have an effect on train reliability.

If the battery packs are truly like-for-like with the diesel engines, then what will be effect of replacing two and three diesel engines in a five-car Class 802 train with battery packs.

Will it be possible to develop an ability to setup the train according to the route? It’s only similar to the way Mercedes probably set up Lewis Hamilton’s car for each circuit.

But then the speed Formula One cars lap Silverstone is not that different to the maximum speed of a Hitachi Class 802 train.

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Hitachi Rail And Angel Trains To Create Intercity Battery Hybrid Train On TransPennine Express

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Hitachi Rail.

The press release starts with these three points.

  • Hitachi Rail, Angel Trains and TransPeninne Express (TPE) agree to trial retrofitting battery on intercity train
  • Trial, starting next year, can cut fuel usage by at least 20% and reduce emissions on Transpennine network from 2022 onwards
  • Tri-mode service can cut noise pollution in urban areas and improve air quality.

Hitachi also point to this infographic.

This very much looks to be a step forward from the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train that was announced in December 2020 in this press release from Hitachi which is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

The specifications are very similar, except for the following.

  • The battery range is given as five kilometres.
  • Fuel savings are up to 30% instead of at least 20%.
  • A performance increase of 30 % is claimed.
  • The upgrade appears to be able to be fitted to Hitachi intercity trains, as opposed to a straight replacement of one engine by batteries.

It looks to me, that Hitachi have been working hard to improve their design.

I think this paragraph of the press release is key.

The trial will see a diesel engine replaced by batteries to help power a five-carriage train, along with the two remaining engines. The power provided by the batteries will help to reduce the amount of fuel required to operate the train.

Hitachi don’t say, but I suspect the trains and their batteries have a lot of energy saving features.

  • Regenerative braking is already used to power some services like lighting and air-conditioning on the trains.
  • But I suspect regenerative braking will also be used to recharge the batteries.
  • A sophisticated computer system will drive the train in the most optimal manner.
  • Hopefully, diesel will only be used as a last resort.

Features like these and others will enable the trains to jump gaps in the electrification. As more and more tricks are added and batteries hold more charge, the gaps the trains will be able to cross will get larger.

Five kilometres might not sound much, but I think it could be surprisingly useful.

I will use an example from the Midland Main Line to illustrate how the trains and discontinuous electrification might work.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I described the problems at Leicester station and how discontinuous electrification could solve the problem.

The following is a modified extract from that post.

This Google Map shows the bridge and the Southern end of the station.

It looks to me, that Leicester station and the road, would have to be closed to traffic for some time, if the bridge were to be rebuilt, to allow the erection of electrification through the area. Leicester and all train passengers would love that!

A solution could be discontinuous electrification.

  • The electrification from the South, would finish on the South side of bridge.
  • The electrification from the North, would finish at a convenient point in Leicester station or just to the North.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of up to five kilometres on battery power.

Note.

Pantographs could be raised and lowered, where the wires exist.

Trains would probably use a stopping profile in Leicester station, that ensured they stopped with full batteries.

This would mean they had enough electricity to get back up to speed and reconnect to the electrification on the other side of the station.

To get an idea at how long five kilometres is in the Centre of Leicester, this Google Map shows the Leicester station.

Note that the platforms are around three hundred metres long.

In other words the electrification can be kept well away from the station and its troublesome bridge.

How much money would be saved and disruption avoided?

Application To The TransPennine Express Routes

These are the various routes, where Class 802 trains could be used.

Liverpool Lime Street And Edinburgh, Newcastle, Scarborough Or York

Sections are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 31.7 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • York and Newcastle – 80.2 miles – Electrified

Note.

  1. All services take a common route between Liverpool Lime Street and York.
  2. A surprising amount is electrified.
  3. A further 42 miles are being electrified.
  4. The 3 km Morley Tunnel between Dewsbury and Leeds might not be electrified.
  5. The 5 km  Standedge Tunnel between Huddersfield and Stalybridge might not be electrified.

It looks to me that the 5 km battery range will avoid electrification of two long Victorian tunnels.

Manchester Airport And Newcastle Or Redcar Central

Sections are as follows.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13.2 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • York and Newcastle – 80.2 miles – Electrified
  • Northallerton and Redcar Central – 29 miles – Diesel

The route goes through the Morley and Standedge tunnels.

Manchester Piccadilly And Hull

Sections are as follows.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge – 7.5 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and Selby – 21 miles – Diesel
  • Selby and Hull – 31miles – Diesel

The route goes through the Morley and Standedge tunnels.

Manchester Piccadilly And Huddersfield

The route goes through the Standedge tunnel.

Huddersfield And Leeds

The route goes through the Morley tunnel.

Manchester Airport And Cleethorpes

The Hope Valley Line which is part of this route has three tunnels.

Perhaps they will use a bit of diesel to get through Totley.

The Future

This paragraph sums up what Hitachi and Angel Trains could see as a possible future direction.

Once complete, the trial provides a pathway for Hitachi Rail, the train builder and maintainer, and Angel Trains, the train’s owner to develop plans to retrofit batteries to the wider fleet.

These plans will probably go in the directions like decarbonisation, more efficient operation and better standards for passengers.

Conclusion

This looks like a solution that has been helped by real ale in an appropriate hostelry.

  • The battery range has been chosen so Network Rail don’t necessarily have to electrify the tunnels.
  • Full electrification can be used either side of the tunnels.
  • Will any stations not be electrified. After all if the trains are using battery power in stations do they need electrification?
  • It might be useful to have some more bi-mode freight locomotives, that could traverse the tunnels on diesel or batteries.

Hitachi and Network Rail certainly seem to be cooking up a solution.

 

 

 

November 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Thor Point

In his Informed Sources column in the August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, Roger Ford has a section with the same sub-title as this post.

He discusses what is to happen to the Class 22x fleets of 125 mph diesel trains and then says this about Project Thor, which was an idea of a few years back.

I still believe the addition of a pantograph transformer car to convert a ‘22x’ to a bi-mode has even more potential than the first time round. Routes operated by the CrossCountry ‘22x’ should be early candidates for electrification, and bi-modes are a simple way of boosting the benefits of electrification.

Project Thor is described in a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Voyager train, which is entitled Proposed Conversion To Electrical Operation. This is said.

In 2010 Bombardier proposed the conversion of several Voyager multiple units into hybrid electric and diesel vehicles capable of taking power from an overhead pantograph (electro-diesels EDMUs). The proposal was named Project Thor.

It appears that, one of the reasons the project foundered was that Bombardier had no capability to make steel carriages in the UK.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

A lot of the article takes the form of reporting an interview with Des McKeon, who is Bombardier’s Commercial |Director and Global Head of Regional and Intercity.

This is a paragraph.

He also confirmed Bombardier is examining the option of fitting batteries to Voyager DEMUs for use in stations.

Nothing more was said.

In the three years since that brief sentence, technology has moved on.

Perhaps most significantly, Hitachi have launched the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note that one engine is replaced with batteries.

My engineering experience, leads me to believe that Hitachi’s battery pack supplier; Hyperdrive Innovation, is developing a battery-pack that is plug-compatible with the MTU diesel engine, so that batteries and diesel engines can be swapped as required.

For this to be possible, there needs to be a power bus connecting all carriages of the train.

  • This is common practice in the design of electric multiple units.
  • I am certain this power bus exists on the Hitachi Class 800 trains as they have pantographs on both driver cars and all the motor cars are between the driver cars. So it is needed to supply power to the train.
  • A power-bus could be used in a diesel-electric multiple unit like the Voyager, to ensure that in the case of engine failure in one of the cars, the car would still be supplied with hotel power.

Are the Bombardier Voyagers designed with a similar power bus?

If they are, I wonder, if one of the intermediate cars could be converted as follows.

  • Replace the diesel engine and electrical generator with a plug-compatible battery pack of an appropriate size.
  • Fit a lightweight pantograph in the roof of the train.
  • Squeeze in all the electrical gubbins like a transformer underneath the train.

It would probably be a challenging piece of engineering, but if there is sufficient space under the train it should be possible.

But the outcome would be a genuine 125 mph bi-mode multiple unit.

August 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 13 Comments

First Passenger Journey In The UK With mtu Hybrid PowerPack

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first paragraph.

The mtu Hybrid-PowerPack has passed another milestone successfully: In the UK, a train with mtu hybrid drive carried passengers for the first time as part of a special journey.

So how did mtu, a German manufacturer of large diesel engines for trains and ships, end up in bed with Rolls-Royce?

Wikipedia says this.

MTU Friedrichshafen remained a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler until 2006 when it was sold off to the EQT IV private equity fund, becoming a part of the Tognum Corporation.

Rolls-Royce Holdings and Daimler AG acquired Tognum in 2011. In 2014, Tognum was renamed Rolls-Royce Power Systems, having become a 100 per cent subsidiary of Rolls-Royce Holdings.

A bit tortuous, to say the least!

This paragraph from the press release describes the journey.

The journey of the train – called HybridFLEX – was part of celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of UK rail operator Chiltern Railways, which will use the train on its routes. It is a converted Turbostar DMU, which was previously equipped with a conventional mtu drive system.

It doesn’t sound very special, but it’s the equivalent of taking your BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes from twenty years ago and converting it to a full hybrid car with batteries, to assist the diesel engine.

Fuel and emission savings of 25 per cent are claimed, with the additional benefit that the train will not use the diesel engines in stations or sensitive areas.

In HybridFLEX Battery-Diesel Train Continues Programme Of Testing, I said this.

In the UK, the following diesel multiple units are fitted with modern MTU engines and could be candidates from a replacement power pack.

That is a total of 990 diesel engines.

As some of the Class 196 and Class 197 trains have yet to be delivered, I do wonder, if it would be sensible to deliver them as diesel-battery hybrid trains.

That is a lot of diesel engines, that could be replaced by MTU Hybrid Power Packs.

Conversions of other trains are also ongoing in Germany and Ireland.

This article from Rolls-Royce, is entitled  Hybrid Train Trials and gives a lot more details.

This is a quote from the article on fuel savings.

A fuel saving of 15 per cent is a
fantastic result and means that under
optimum conditions, 20 to 25
per cent should be possible. 

The savings certainly fit with Chiltern’s findings.

I have a few questions.

Can Locomotive Size PowerPacks Be Built?

As an engineer, I don’t see why not!

And there is certainly a need for them to cut diesel usage and carbon emissions with locomotives.

Conclusion

These conversions could be a very good interim solution.

 

July 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 26 Comments

HybridFLEX Battery-Diesel Train Continues Programme Of Testing

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Global Railway Review.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The HybridFLEX battery-diesel train is currently undertaking a programme of tests between Duffield and Wirksworth, prior to returning to Chiltern Railways in the summer.

Fitted with a Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drive, the HybridFLEX will cut noise emissions in stations and deliver zero emissions when operating under battery power.

All seems to be going well, according to the article.

I like the concept, as to replace a diesel engine with a diesel-battery hybrid power pack must surely be a sensible way to at least partially decarbonise.

In the UK, the following diesel multiple units are fitted with modern MTU engines and could be candidates from a replacement power pack.

That is a total of 990 diesel engines.

As some of the Class 196 and Class 197 trains have yet to be delivered, I do wonder, if it would be sensible to deliver them as diesel-battery hybrid trains.

 

 

May 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trimode Class 93 Locomotives Ordered By Rail Operations (UK)

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Stadler and Rail Operations (UK) Ltd have signed a framework agreement for the supply of 30 Class 93 trimode locomotives, with an initial batch of 10 scheduled for delivery in early 2023.

Note that the order may have been a long time coming, but it is now for thirty locomotives. In this article on Rail Magazine from December 2018, which is entitled Rail Operations Fuels its Ambitions With Tri-Mode Class 93s, only ten locomotives were to be ordered.

A Few More Details

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled, Re-Engineering Rail Freight, gives a few more details about the operation of the Class 93 locomotives.

It says this about operation in electric mode.

In electric mode, the batteries are charged when braking or from the transformer. As the batteries use the space occupied by the braking resistors in the Class 88, when the batteries are fully charged, the locomotive has only its friction brake.

This about operation in diesel-hybrid mode.

In diesel/battery hybrid mode, the batteries are charged both as the train brakes and by the diesel engine when it is not operating under full load. When the train accelerates, the batteries give it the extra power needed to get up to speed. This is a significant benefit as accelerating a freight train of over 1,000 tonnes up to its operating speed can take several minutes.

This is said about the batteries and their effect on performance.

It has two Lithium Titanate Oxide liquid-cooled battery packs, which have a rapid charge and discharge rate. These each have a 40kWh capacity with a peak power of 200kW. Thus, whilst the train is accelerating, the Class 93 will have a peak power of 1,300kW for up to ten minutes, which is almost twice that of a Class 88 in diesel mode.

The batteries would appear to be quite small when you consider, that Vivarail are talking about 424 KWh in one of their Class 230 trains.

This is said about performance.

As a result, the 86-tonne Class 93 is capable of hauling 1,500 tonnes on non-electrified routes and 2,500 tonnes on electrified routes. With a route availability (RA) of seven, it can be used on most of the rail network.

It may not be the largest of locomotives, but it could have a very high performance.

I have a few thoughts.

Regenerative Braking Performance

The Rail Engineer  article says this about the Class 93 locomotive.

  • The train has a total of 80 kWh of battery storage to store braking energy.
  • The locomotive weighs 86 tonnes
  • It can haul 1,500 tonnes on non-electrified lines.

Using a train weight of 1586 tonnes and Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives a kinetic energy of 8 kWh at 42.6 mph.

Does this mean that the locomotive is designed to trundle around the countryside at around forty mph?

These are timings from Real Time Trains.

  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 40 miles – 60 minutes – 40 mph
  • Werrington Junction and Doncaster – 86 miles – 130 minutes – 40 mph
  • Werrington Junction and Nuneaton – 67 miles – 123 minutes – 32.7 mph
  • Southampton and Oxford – 74 miles – 120 minutes – 37 mph

There will be savings compared to the current diesel timings, with a Class 93 locomotive.

  • Either side of these sections, the locomotive can use electric power to cut pollution, noise and carbon emissions.
  • Stops and starts on sections without electrification will save diesel and cut carbon emissions.
  • The train will be faster on electrified sections.

I also feel that with its smaller diesel engine, it will be able to maintain similar timings to current trains hauled by Class 66, Class 68 and Class 70 locomotives.

It can haul 2,500 tonnes on non-electrified lines.

Assuming a train weight of 2586 tonnes, the train energy at various speeds is as follows.

  • 40 mph – 114 kWh
  • 60 mph – 258 kWh
  • 80 mph – 459 kWh
  • 100 mph – 718 kWh
  • 110 mph – 868 kWh

Am I right to assume that once the batteries are full, the regenerative braking energy can be returned through the catenary to power other trains?

Operation With 750 VDC Third Rail Electrification

Will some locomotives be fitted with third-rail shoes to work into and out of Southampton?

They would not need to use diesel between and Basingstoke.

Access To Ports And Rail Freight Terminals

I recently wrote Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe.

Looking in detail at Felixstowe and how trains will serve the port, this was my conclusion.

I very much feel, that the specification of the Class 93 locomotive with its trimode capability is ideal for working to and from ports and freight terminals.

Looking at the specification, I am certain, that these locomotives can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe on diesel, with help from the batteries.

  • The distance without electrification is around fifteen miles.
  • It takes around thirty minutes.
  • It is fairly flat Suffolk countryside with the possible exception of the climb over Spring Road Viaduct.

The batteries would need to be charged and surely in Felixstowe’s case the best way would be to electrify the two single track access routes between Trimley station and the Port.

  • On leaving, the trains would pass Trimley with full batteries.
  • They could also be at line speed after accelerating using the two miles or so of electrification.
  • They could also enter the Port with full batteries, after charging the batteries on the short length of electrification.

The batteries may be large and powerful enough, to enable diesel free operations in the Port.

Does this partially explain the increase in the order for Class 93 locomotives? There’s not really been a genuine Last-Mile locomotive in the UK before.

Enabling Carbon-Free Ports And Rail Freight Terminals

Regularly, I read reports of ports wanting to do carbon-free.

Class 93 locomotives can help the process, by not using their diesel engines in ports and rail freight terminals.

It might just need a short length of electrification between the port or terminal and the main line, to make sure batteries are fully-charged.

But not at London Gateway!

This Google Map shows the couple of kilometres of track without electrification, that connects London Gateway to the electrified route through East Tilbury station.

London Gateway would appear to be ready for low or possibly zero-carbon access, using Class 93 locomotives.

High Speed Freight Trains

Consider.

  • These Class 93 locomotives will have an operating speed of 110 mph, when running on electrified lines.
  • Currently, many multimode freight trains run at speeds of under 90 mph, as Class 66 locomotives don’t have the power to go faster and the wagons carrying the containers have a lower speed limit.

So with new or refurbished wagons capable of travelling at 110 mph, there will be speed improvements in some containerised freight.

As an example of what happens on the UK rail network, at the present time, I have found a freight train that goes between Felixstowe and Coatbridge near Glasgow,

  • The route is via Ipswich, London, The North London Line and the West Coast Main Line.
  • It can weigh 1600 tonnes.
  • The distance is 483 miles.
  • The service takes around 16 hours.
  • With the exception of between Felixstowe and Ipswich, the route is fully electrified.

I estimate that if this service could run at up to 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line and up to 110 mph on the West Coast Main Line, that several hours could be saved.

Electrification Gap Bridging

As I indicated earlier, I believe these Class 93 locomotives will be able to haul a freight train out of Felixstowe to the electrified Great Eastern Main Line.

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I gave a list of typical gaps in the electrification in the UK.

  • Didcot and Birmingham – Around two-and-a-half hours
  • Didcot and Coventry – Just under two hours
  • Felixstowe and Ipswich – Around an hour
  • Haughley Junction and Peterborough – Around two hours
  • Southampton and Reading – Around one-and-a-half hours
  • Werrington Junction and Doncaster via Lincoln – Around two hours
  • Werrington Junction and Nuneaton – Just under two hours

How many of these gaps could be bridged by a Class 93 locomotive working in a diesel hybrid mode?

Stadler have not confirmed the size of the battery, but have said that it can provide 400 kW of power, which gives a maximum of 1.3 MW, when the batteries are working as afterburners for the diesel engine!

If the article in Rail Engineer is correct, I feel there is a high chance, that a Class 93 locomotive can bridge these gaps, with a load of 1500 tonnes in tow.

It is worth looking at current timings between Haughley Junction and Ely, when hauled by a Class 66 locomotive.

  • The distance is around 40 mph
  • The time taken is around an hour.
  • A Class 66 locomotive would put 2.2 MW at the rail.

This locomotive could need up to 2.2 MWh to bridge the gap.

But I don’t believe that a forty mile gap will be impossible for a Class 93 locomotive.

  • Stadler will have all the performance data of the bi-mode Class 88 locomotive to draw on.
  • The Class 93 locomotive has regenerative braking to help charge the batteries at any stops.
  • Several of the large electrification gaps on the UK rail network are in the flat lands of East Anglia and Lincolnshire.
  • Modern control systems would be able to eke out the power of the batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Stadler have had an objective to design a locomotive that can perform like a Class 66 locomotive for two hours.

Conclusion

If Stadler get the specification, performance and reliability of this locomotive right, they will sell a lot of locomotives for operations like these! And not just in the UK!

 

 

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments