The Anonymous Widower

Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification

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

This is the key section of the article.

During a House of Commons debate on transport on September 17, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said in response to a question from Alex Norris (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North): “We are currently delivering the Midland Main Line upgrade, which includes electrification from London to Kettering, with additional electrification to Market Harborough being developed.

“Further electrification of the MML is currently at an early stage, but it is being examined by Network Rail.”

Stephenson said the DfT will continue to work closely with NR on the development of a proposal that would include approaches to advancing the delivery of electrification across the route.

The title of the article, probably sums it up well.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Having read lots of stories about electrification of Midland Main Line, I think the following must be born in mind.

  • Electrification on the line will reach as far North as Market Harborough station.
  • The route between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction will be shared with High Speed Two. It will obviously need to be electrified for High Speed Two.
  • The section of the Midland Main Line between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. The Heritage Taliban will love the electrification, with a vengeance.
  • Electrification through Leicester station could be tricky, as the station building and the A6 road are over the tracks and there is limited clearance. Electrification could involve major disruption to the trains for some time.

These are some of the distances involved of sections of the route that are not electrified.

  • Market Harborough and Derby are 54 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction are 67 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Chesterfield are 70 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Nottingham are 44 miles apart
  • Market Harborough and Leicester are 16 miles apart.
  • Derby and Clay Cross North Junction are 21 miles apart.

Since 2017, when electrification for the full route was originally abandoned, there have been big changes in rolling stock technology.

The biggest change has been the development of battery trains.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains

This infographic from Hitachi gives the specification for their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The trains have a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  2. The trains can cruise at 100 mph on battery power.
  3. Hitachi have said that all of their AT-300 trains can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.
  4. Trains are converted by removing the diesel engines and replacing them with battery packs.
  5. I suspect these battery packs look like a diesel engine in terms of control inputs and performance to the driver and the train’s computer.

It is extremely likely, that the bi-mode Class 810 trains, which are a version of the AT-300 train, that have been ordered for the Midland Main Line can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.

These trains have four diesel engines, as opposed to the Class 800 and Class 802 trains, which only have three.

These are reasons, why the trains could need four engines.

  • The trains need more power to work the Midland Main Line. I think this is unlikely.
  • Four engine positions gives ,more flexibility when converting to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Four battery packs could give a longer range of up to 120 kilometres or 75 miles.

It could just be, that Hitachi are just being conservative, as engines can easily be removed or replaced. The fifth-car might even be fitted with all the wiring and other gubbins, so that a fifth-engine or battery pack can be added.

I suspect the train’s computer works on a Plug-And-Play principle, so when the train is started, it looks round each car to see how many diesel engines and battery packs are available and it then controls the train according to what power is available.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield By Battery Electric Train

Any battery electric train going between London St. Pancras and Sheffield will need to be charged, at both ends of the route.

  • At the London end, it will use the electrification currently being erected as far as Market Harborough station.
  • At the Sheffield end, the easiest way to charge the trains, would be to bring forward the electrification and updating between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction, that is needed for High Speed Two.

This will leave a 67 mile gap in the electrification between Market Harborough station and Clay Cross North junction.

It looks to me, the Class 810 trains should be able to run between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, after the following projects are undertaken.

  • Class 810 trains are given four battery packs and a battery range of 75 miles.
  • Electrification is installed between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction.

Trains would need to leave Market Harborough station going North and Clay Cross Junction going South with full batteries.

Note.

  1. Trains currently take over an hour to go between Chesterfield to Sheffield and then back to Chesterfield, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  2. Trains currently take around an hour to go between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. Chesterfield station is only three miles further, so if power changeover, needed to be in a station, it could be performed there.
  4. Leeds and Sheffield are under fifty miles apart and as both stations would be electrified, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services could be extended to start and finish at Leeds.

London St. Pancras and Sheffield can be run by battery electric trains.

London St. Pancras And Nottingham By Battery Electric Train

Could a battery electric train go from Market Harborough to Nottingham and back, after being fully-charged on the hour-long trip from London?

  • The trip is 44 miles each way or 88 miles for a round trip.
  • Services have either three or eight stops, of which two or three respectively are at stations without electrification.
  • Trains seem to take over thirty minutes to turnback at Nottingham station.

Extra power North of Market Harborough will also be needed.

  • To provide hotel power for the train, during turnback at Nottingham station.
  • To compensate for power losses at station stops.

If 75 miles is the maximum battery range, I doubt that a round trip is possible.

I also believe, that Hitachi must be developing a practical solution to charging a train during turnback, at a station like Nottingham, where trains take nearly thirty minutes to turnback.

If the Class 810 trains have a battery range of 75 miles, they would be able to handle the London St. Pancras and Nottingham service, with charging at Nottingham.

Conclusion

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

 

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly Service

Whilst I was at Basingstoke station yesterday one of CrossCountry‘s services between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly came through, so I took these pictures.

It was a long formation of Class 220 trains.

Could This Service Be Replaced By Hitachi Regional Battery Trains?

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

I feel that in most condition, the range on battery power can be up to 56 miles.

I can break the Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly route into a series of legs.

  • Bournemouth and Basingstoke – 60 miles – 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • Basingstoke and Reading – 15.5 miles – No electrification
  • Reading and Didcot North Junction – 18 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • Didcot North Junction and Oxford – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Oxford and Banbury – 22 miles – No electrification
  • Banbury and Leamington Spa – 20 miles – No electrification
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Coventry and Manchester Piccadilly – 101 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification

Note.

  1. 63 % of the route is electrified.
  2. The short 15.5 mile gap in the electrification between Basingstoke and Reading should be an easy route for running on battery power.
  3. But the 62 mile gap between Didcot North Junction and Coventry might well be too far.

The train would also need to be able to work with both types of UK electrification.

If some way could be found to bridge the 62 mile gap reliably, Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains could work CrossCountry’s service between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly.

Bridging The Gap

These methods could possibly  be used to bridge the gap.

A Larger Battery On The Train

If you look at images of MTU’s Hybrid PowerPack, they appear to show a basic engine module with extra battery modules connected to it.

Will Hitachi and their battery-partner; Hyperdrive Innovation use a similar approach, where extra batteries  can be plugged in as required?

This modular approach must offer advantages.

  • Battery size can be tailored to routes.
  • Batteries can be changed quickly.

The train’s software would know what batteries were fitted and could manage them efficiently.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train able to handle a gap only six miles longer than the specification.

Battery And Train Development

As Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train develops, the following should happen.

  • Useable battery capacity will increase.
  • The train will use less electricity.
  • Actions like regenerative braking will improve and recover more electricity.
  • Driving and train operating strategies will improve.

These and other factors will improve the range of the train on batteries.

A Charging Station At Banbury Station

If some form of Fast Charge system were to be installed at Banbury station, this would enable a train stopping at Banbury to take on enough power to reliably reach Oxford or Coventry depending, on their final destination.

This method may add a few minutes to the trip, but it should work well.

Electrification Of A Section Of The Chiltern Main Line

This could be an elegant solution.

I have just flown my helicopter between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations and these are my observations.

  • The Chiltern Main Line appears to be fairly straight and has received a top class Network Rail makeover in the last couple of decades.
  • There are a couple of tunnels, but most of the bridges are new.
  • Network Rail have done a lot of work on this route to create a hundred mph main line.
  • It might be possible to increase the operating speed, by a few mph.
  • The signalling also appears modern.

My untrained eye, says that it won’t be too challenging to electrify between say Bicester North station or Aynho Junction in the South and Leamington Spa or Warwick Parkway stations in the North. I would think, that the degree of difficulty would be about the same, as the recently electrified section of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Corby stations.

The thirty-eight miles of electrification between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations would mean.

  • The electrification is only eight-and-a-half miles longer than Bedford and Corby.
  • There could be journey time savings.
  • As all trains stop at two stations out of Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Warwick Parkway, all pantograph actions could be performed in stations, if that was thought to be preferable.
  • Trains would be able to leave the electrification with full batteries.
  • The electrification may enable some freight trains to be hauled between Didcot and Coventry or Birmingham using battery electric locomotives.

Distances of relevance from the ends of the electrification include.

  • London Marylebone and Bicester North stations – 55 miles
  • London Marylebone and Aynho junction – 64 miles
  • Didcot North and Aynho junctions – 28 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry stations – 10 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 23 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 15 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham New Street stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Kidderminster – 40 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 12 miles

These figures mean that the following services would be possible using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Kidderminster
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • CrossCountry – Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly
  • CrossCountry – Southampton Central and Newcastle
  • Midlands Connect – Oxford and Birmingham More Street – See Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

Other services like Leicester and Oxford via Coventry may also be possible.

As I see it, the great advantage of this electrification on the Chiltern Main Line is that is decarbonises two routes with the same thirty-eight miles of electrification.

Conclusion

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly service could be run very efficiently with Hitachi’s proposed Regional Battery Train.

My preferred method to cross the electrification gap between Didcot North junction and Coventry station would be to electrify a section of the Chiltern Main Line.

  • The electrification would be less than forty miles.
  • I doubt it would be a challenging project.
  • It would also allow Hitachi’s proposed trains to work Chiltern Main Line routes between London Marylebone and Birmingham.

I am fairly certain, that all passenger services through Banbury would be fully electric.

 

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Hitachi’s Class 800 Trains Work The Cornish Main Line On Battery Power?

The distance between Plymouth and Penzance stations along the Cornish Main Line is just seventy-nine miles and thirty-eight chains. I’ll call it 79.5 miles.

Hitachi’s proposed train is described in this infographic.

The range on battery power of 90 km or 56 miles, will not be quite enough to get all the way between Plymouth and Penzance!

But note the phrase – Allows Discontinuous Electrification; at the top of the infographic.

Will Electrification Be Needed?

Obviously or the train could perhaps wait at Truro for ten minutes to charge the batteries.

But how customer-unfriendly and disruptive to good operating practice is that?

Could Bigger Batteries Be Fitted?

This obviously is a possibility, but surely an operator would prefer all of their trains to have the same battery range and updating them all for a longer distance might not be an economic proposition.

Could Intelligent Discontinuous Third-Rail Electrification Be Used?

Third-rail electrification, is hated by the Health & Safety Taliban, as it occasionally kills people trespassing or falling on the railway. But in the UK, we have around 1,500 miles of third-rail electrified line, that generally operates to a high level of safety.

Can my modern successors make third-rail electrification absolutely safe in new installations?

Third-Rail And Discontinuous Electrification Installations!

To connect to overhead electrification, the driver or an automatic system on the train, must raise the pantograph. It doesn’t often go wrong, but when it does, it can bring down the wires. This section on panotograph weaknesses from Wikipedia give more details.

With third-rail, the connection and disconnection is automatic, with far less to go wrong.

These pictures show a gap in the third-rail electrification at the Blackfriars station, which was rebuilt in 2012, so it must meet all modern regulations.

Note the gap in the third-rail, which carries the current.

  • The third-rail shoes on the train disconnect and connect automatically, as the train passes through.
  • The only rails with voltage are between the tracks for safety.
  • The high-tech shields appear to be real tree wood painted yellow.

As an Electrical Engineer, I actually suspect, that this gap in the conductor rail, is to isolate the North and South London electricity supplies from each other,, so that a catastrophic failure on one side doesn’t affect both halves of Thameslink.

Third-Rail Electrification In Stations

Most rail passengers in the UK, understand third-rail electrification, if they’ve ever used trains in the South of London or Merseyside.

Electrifying stations using third-rail equipment could enable battery trains to go further.

  • Stopping trains could top-up their batteries.
  • Passing trains, that were low on power could make a pit-stop.
  • All trains would connect automatically to the third-rail, when in the station.

The safety level would be raised by making sure that the third-rail was electrically-dead unless a train was over the top.

I am by training a Control Engineer and one of my first jobs in a dangerous factory as a fifteen-year-old,  was designing and building safety systems, that cut power to guillotines, when the operator put their hands somewhere they shouldn’t! I remember endlessly testing the system with an old broom, which survived unscathed.

I believe that only switching on the electrification, when a train completes the circuit, is a fairly simple operation for modern control switchgear. I can imagine an intelligent switch constantly monitoring the resistance  and only switching on power, when the resistance in the circuit looks like a train.

Third-Rail Electrification In Discrete Locations

Overhead electrification can receive complaints in scenic locations, but third-rail electrification can be invisible in tunnels and over bridges and viaducts.

The Cornish Main Line has four tunnels, two bridges, which include the Royal Albert Bridge, and no less than thirty-two viaducts.

How many of these could be used to hide electrification?

  • Any electrified sections could be intelligently controlled to increase safety.
  • Power for the electrification could come from local renewable sources, using techniques like Riding Sunbeams.

I can see engineers developing several techniques for discrete electrification.

Third-Rail And Charging Battery Trains

I like the Vivarail’s Fast Charge concept of using third-rail equipment to charge battery trains.

This press release from the company describes how they charge their battery electric Class 230 trains.

  • The system is patented.
  • The system uses a trickle-charged battery pack, by the side of the track to supply the power.
  • The first system worked with the London Underground 3rd and 4th rail electrification standard.

As the length of rails needed to be added at charging points is about a metre, installing a charging facility in a station, will not be the largest of projects.

Under How Does It Work?, the press release says this.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

As an electrical engineer, I’m certain the concept could be adapted to charge the batteries of a conventional third-rail train.

Vivarail’s press release says this about modification to the trains.

The train’s shoe-gear is made of ceramic carbon so it is able to withstand the heat generated during the fast charge process.

That wouldn’t be a major problem to solve.

Hitachi And Third Rail

The picture shows a Hitachi Class 395 train at Gillingham station.

 

The silver-coloured  third-rail equipment is clearly visible, under the javelin logo.

These trains are cousins of all the new Hitachi trains in the UK, so I suspect fitting third-rail equipment to Class 80x trains, is just a matter of finding the appropriate documents on the computer and raiding the parts bin.

I suspect, as Hitachi will probably be building some more trains for Southeastern to start the Highspeed service between London St. Pancras and Hastings, that Hitachi are already working on the design of a third-rail high-speed train with batteries.

I doubt that Hitachi have any fears about fitting third-rail gear to their trains, as an optional extra.

Electrifying Between Plymouth And Penzance

Obviously, Plymouth and Penzance stations would have charging facilities, but now many would the trains handle the 79.5 miles in between?

There are three possibilities.

Limited-Third Rail Electrification

As I indicated earlier short lengths of intelligent third-rail electrification could be added at various places on the route.

A full battery would take the train fifty-six miles and as the Cornish Main Line is nearly eighty miles long, I suspect that the train would need almost a full charge halfway along the route.

  • Hitachi claim in the infographic, that a full-charge takes 10-15 minutes, when the train is static, so I will assume the largest figure of this range, as charging on the move might not be as efficient, with everything happening at 90 mph.
  • So I will assume a fifteen minute charge time.
  • Typically, a Class 80x takes two hours between Penzance and Plymouth, which is an average speed of just 40 mph.
  • In fifteen minutes, the train will go ten miles. So a rough estimate would say ten miles should be electrified.

As electrification in stations would allow trains to have a bigger sup, a scientifically-correct simulation would show the best philosophy.

The London Paddington and Penzance services call at the following stations, that are West of Plymouth.

Liskeard, Saltash, St. Germans, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, Hayle and St Erth

Note.

  1. Some smaller stations do get skipped.
  2. According to Real Time Trains, stops seem to take 1-2 minutes.
  3. Trains are usually nine- or ten-cars, but I feel that the proposed improvements between Bodmin General and Bodmin Parkway stations, that I wrote about in Increased Service Provision Bodmin General-Bodmin Parkway, may result in a large reorganisation of services between London and Cornwall.

Could it be that electrifying the major stations with third-rail electrification would enable enough power to be taken on board by a train running between London Paddington and Penzance, so that the journey could be completed?

Vivarail Fast Chargers

Vivarail’s Fast Chargers could be fitted at all or selected stations and trains could take a sip as and when they need.

A charger would also be needed at any Cornish terminal station, that would have services from battery electric trains.

A Mixture Of Third-Rail Electrification And Vivarail Fast Chargers

Both technologies are interchangeable and can be used with compatible battery electric trains.

I would expect an accurate mathematical model will indicate the best layout of electrification and Fast Chargers.

 

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Charfield Station

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Wikipedia says this about the Proposed Reopening of Charfield station.

Services between Bristol and Birmingham pass through Charfield. There have been discussions about the viability of reopening the station. The costs would be shared between Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire councils since, although the station would be in South Gloucestershire, the nearby town of Wotton-under-Edge would be a principal beneficiary.

This Google Map shows the village with the Bristol and Birmingham Line passing through.

Note, that the road running down the East side of the railway is called Station Road.

There appear to be these services running through the location.

  • CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh/Glasgow via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Birmingham New Street
  • CrossCountry – Exeter St. Davids and Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Birmingham New Street
  • GWR – Great Malvern and Westbury via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa

Note.

All services appear to be hourly.

Bristol Parkway station is thirteen miles away by rail, so is an easy drive, but a very stiff walk or cycle.

Timings by rail from Charfield based on passing GWR trains include.

  • Bristol Parkway – 15 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 27 minutes
  • Cheltenham Spa – 38 minutes
  • Gloucester – 24 minutes

There may be a possibility of improving these times, as the current timetable might have been written for slow trains and a Class 158, Class 165 or Class 166 train can do better.

CrossCountry times include.

  • Birmingham New Street – 68 minutes
  • Bristol Parkway – 11 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 23 minutes
  • Cheltenham Spa – 17 minutes
  • Worcestershire Parkway – 32 minutes

I would think, that Charfield station could receive one GWR  stopping train and one fast CrossCountry train per hour.

Discontinuous Electrification Between Birmingham And Bristol

Hitachi have changed the rules on electrification, by the announcement of the development of battery electric trains in collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

The proposed train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

It will have a range on battery power of 90 km or 56 miles.

Consider.

  • Midlands Connect have ambitions see an extra hourly service between Birmingham and Bristol Temple Meads, with all services running five minutes faster. See Midlands Rail Hub.
  • CrossCountry will likely be getting new trains, to replace their exclusively all-diesel fleet. They could be tri-mode trains to make the most of long stretches of electrification on their routes, batteries for short gaps of up to fifty miles and diesel power everywhere else.
  • There are electrified stations at Bristol Parkway and possibly Bristol Temple Meads in a few years.
  • There is full electrification between Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove stations.
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway are seventy miles apart.
  • There is a possibility, that Cheltenham Spa station will get a charging facility so that London Paddington and Cheltenham Spa services could be run by Class 800 trains converted to battery electric operation.

I don’t think it is an unreasonable prediction to make that Hitachi and other train manufacturers like Stadler with their Class 755 trains, have the technology to run low-carbon services between Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street stations.

  • Trains would leave Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway with full batteries.
  • Quick battery top-ups can be taken at Cheltenham Spa and Worcestershire Parkway stations.
  • The fast acceleration of the electric trains will allow extra stops.

I think it would also be possible for GWR to use battery electric Class 387 trains between Great Malvern and Westbury.

Charfield could be an electric train-only station.

Conclusion

The reopening of Charfield station is really a simple station rebuilding and reopening and local passenger forecasts will probably make the decision.

But these forecasts must take into account, the likely partial decarbonisation of the route through the station, which would surely increase ridership.

The new station could also be built with provision for a possible charging facility, in case it might be needed in the future.

 

July 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement Of The Beverley And York Rail Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The York And Beverley Line does what it says in the name.

A section in the Wikipedia entry is entitled Re-Opening Proposals and the treatment of the trackbed after closure would appear to be a case study in how not to mothball a railway.

  • The original route has been built on in several places at Huntingdon, New Earswick, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge.
  • A new route will have to be built to connect to the York and Scarborough Line at Haxby.
  • There may also be problems at Beverley.

The only positive thing I can see, is that York City Council, want to re-open Haxby station. If this station were to be re-opened with a future-proofed design that might help in the wider scheme of reopening the Beverley and York Line.

This Google Map shows the original location of Haxby station.

Note.

  1. There is a dreaded level crossing in the middle of the village, that typically has around two trains per hour (tph)
  2. The road going to the West at the top of the map, is called Station Road, which is a bit of a giveaway.
  3. The building on the triangular site is called Station garage.
  4. Some reports on the Internet say that allotments will be turned into car parks.
  5. According to Wikipedia 22,000 people live within three miles of the station site.

The station site appears to be hemmed in by housing and comments from readers on one report are complaining about car parking being a problem an definitely don’t want the station.

Wikipedia says this about the proposed service on the Beverley and York Line.

The report recommended reinstating a service from Hull via Beverley, Market Weighton, Stamford Bridge and Pocklington connecting to the York to Scarborough Line at Haxby, on a double track line with a frequency of 2 trains per hour, with intermediate stations only at Market Weighton, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge. The estimate journey time was under 1 hour.

As the Beverley and York Line can’t join the York and Scarborough Line in the middle of Haxby, would it join North or South of the town?

Joining to the North would allow the Beverley trains to call at Haxby, but that would mean the level crossing was busy with six tph.

This Google Map shows the countryside between Haxby in the North and Earswick in the South.

Note.

  1. The York and Scarborough Line going through the centre of Haxby and then passing down the West side of the light brown fields.
  2. York is to the South and Scarborough is to the North.

I wonder, if the Beverley and York Line could branch to the East here and skirt to the North of Earswick before continuing to Pocklington for Beverley.

Perhaps, a Park-and-Ride station could be situated, where the railway and the road called Landing Lane cross?

At Beverley, this Google Map shows how the Beverley and York Line connects to the station.

Note.

  1. Beverley station at the bottom of the map.
  2. The Hull and Scarborough running North-South through the station.

The line divides by Beverley Rugby Football Club, with the trackbed of the Beverley and York Line going off in the North-Westerly direction.

This seems a lot easier than at the York end of the route.

I have flown my virtial helicopter over much of the route between Beverley and York, and the trackbed is visible but missing in places, where construction has taken place.

Would The Route Be Single Or Double-Track?

The plans call for double track, but would it be necessary?

  • There will only be two tph, that will take under an hour.
  • No freight trains will use the line.
  • The route is 32 miles long.

I suspect a single track would suffice, with a passing loop at Market Weighton station.

Should The Line Be Electrified?

I wouldn’t electrify the whole line, but I would electrify the following.

  • Hull and Beverley, so that battery trains to and from London could top up their batteries.
  • Haxby and York, so that battery trains to and from Scarborough could top up their batteries.

These two short stretches of electrification would allow battery electric operation between Hull and York, trains could charge their batteries at either end of the route.

Electrification Between Hull And Beverley

Consider.

  • Hull Trains extend their London and Hull services to Beverley.
  • Hull and Beverley are just over eight miles apart.
  • Trains to and from London Kings Cross use the electrification on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Temple Hirst Junction.
  • Hull and Temple Hirst Junction are thirty-six miles apart.
  • Hull Trains and LNER use Hitachi Class 800 or Class 802 electro-diesel trains on services between London Kings Cross and Hull.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric conversion of these trains, would have a range of 56 miles, according to this infographic.

I have flown my helicopter along the route and counted the following.

 

  • Level crossings – 5
  • Modern road bridges – 5
  • Footbridges – 5
  • Other bridges – 5
  • Stations – 1

Nothing looked too challenging.

In my view electrification between Hull and Beverley and at convenient platforms at both stations, would be a simple way of decarbonising rail travel between London and Hull.

If this electrification were to be installed, distances from the electrification between Hull and Beverley, these would be the distances to be covered on battery power to various places.

  • Bridlington – 23 miles
  • Doncaster via Goole – 41 miles
  • Leeds – 52 miles
  • Neville Hill Depot – 49 miles
  • Scarborough – 45 miles
  • York – 52 miles

Note.

  1. All of these places would be in range of a fully-charged Hitachi battery electric train running to and from Hull.
  2. Of the destinations, only Bridlington and Scarborough, is not a fully-electrified station.
  3. One of the prerational problems in the area, is that due to a lack of electrification to the East of Neville Hall Depot, electric trains from York and Hull have difficulty reaching the depot. Trains with a battery capability won’t have this problem.
  4. Hull and Beverley and a lot of stations in the area, would only be served by electric trains, with a battery capability.

There would be a large decrease in pollution and emissions caused by passenger trains in the area.

Electrification Between Haxby And York

Consider.

  • York and Haxby are 4 miles apart.
  • York and Scarborough are 42 miles apart.
  • York and Beverley are 32 miles apart.

Note that unlike at Beverley, there is no need to electrify the end of the route, as trains can be charged in the turnround at York.

With a charging facility at Scarborough, the Class 802 trains of TransPennine Express could work this route if fitted with batteries.

Could Lightweight Electrification Be Used?

Electrification gantries like these have been proposed for routes, where the heavy main-line gantries would be too intrusive.

They could have a place in the rebuilding of lines like Beverley and York.

Trains Between York And Beverley

The UK’s railways need to be decarbonised before 2040.

As a train delivered today, would probably last forty years, I think it would be prudent to only introduce zero-carbon trains to the network, where they are able to run the proposed services.

There is no doubt in my mind, that all these local services in East Yorkshire could be run using battery-electric trains with a 56 mile range.

  • Hull and Doncaster
  • Hull and Leeds
  • Hull and Neville Hill Depot
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York via Beverley and Market Weighton
  • Hull and York via Selby
  • York and Scarborough

The only electrification needed would be as follows.

Electrification between Hull and Beverley.

Electrification of some platforms at Beverley and Hull stations.

Some form of charging at Scarborough.

Charging may also be needed at Bridlington station.

The trains needed for the route seem to fit Hitachi’s specification well and a Class 385 train to the following specification, would do a highly capable job.

  • Three or four-cars.
  • Batteries for a 56 mile range.
  • 90-100 mph operating speed.

I’m also sure that Bombardier, CAF and Stadler could also provide a suitable train.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used?

I feel that they could be used successfully and might enable cost savings on the substantial rebuilding of the route needed.

  • Lighter weight structures.
  • Single track with passing places.
  • Tramway electrification or battery.
  • Less vidual intrusion.
  • The service could also have more stops.

Perhaps too, it could go walkabout in Hull City Centre to take passengers to and from Hull station.

Conclusion

It is rebuilding the tracks between Beverley and York, that will be difficult in the reopening of this line, which with hindsight should have not been vandalised by British Rail.

But even, if the Beverley and York Line is not re-opened, it does look that if Beverley and Hull were to be electrified, it would enable a network of battery electric zero-carbon trains in East Yorkshire and allow battery electric trains to run between Kings Cross and Hull.

 

 

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

South Wales Metro Railway Works Imminent

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

Work starts on the third of August and is described in this sentence,

TfW is now starting to build the South Wales Metro which will see major infrastructure works including the electrification of over 170km of track mostly with overhead lines, station and signalling upgrades and the construction of at least five new stations.

It will be one of the most innovative electrification projects ever performed in the UK, as it uses discontinuous electrification.

I explained discontinuous electrification in More On Discontinuous Electrification In South Wales, where I said this.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the electrification on the South Wales Metro.

KeolisAmey has opted to use continuous overhead line equipment but discontinuous power on the Core Valley Lnes (CVL), meaning isolated OLE will be installed under bridges. On reaching a permanently earthed section, trains will automatically switch from 25 KVAC overhead to on-board battery supply, but the pantograph will remain in contact with the overhead cable, ready to collect power after the section. The company believes this method of reducing costly and disruptive engineering works could revive the business cases of cancelled electrification schemes. Hopes of having money left over for other schemes rest partly on this choice of technology.

Other points made include.

    • A total of 172 km. of track will be electrified.
    • The system is used elsewhere, but not in the UK.
    • Disruptive engineering works will be avoided on fifty-five structures.
    • Between Radyr and Ninian Park stations is also proposed for electrification.

Nothing is said about only electrifying the uphill track, which surely could be a way of reducing costs.

I wrote the last sentence, as surely coming down the hills, the trains can be powered by Newton’s friend.

The New Stations

This article on Business Live, gives the list of new stations and their completion dates.

 

If the builders crack on as they did at Horden station, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those dates achieved, with time to spare.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , | 9 Comments

Electrifying Wales

I would not be surprised to learn that Wales wants to decarbonise their railways.

At present, Wales only has the following electrified railways either in operation or under construction.

  • The South Wales Main Line between the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
  • The South Wales Metro based on local railways around Cardiff and Newport is being created and will be run by electric trains.

There is no more electrification planned in the future.

Hitachi’s Specification For Battery Electric Trains

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic for their Regional Battery Train.

This gives all the information about the train and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

The Welsh Rail Network

If you look at the network of services that are run by Transport for Wales Rail Services, they connect a series of hub stations.

Major hubs include the following stations.

  • Cardiff Central – Electrified
  • Chester
  • Hereford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swansea

Smaller hubs and termini include the following stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Birmingham International – Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street – Electrified
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Carmarthen
  • Crewe – Electrified
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Hereford
  • Holyhead
  • Llandudno Junction
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified
  • Machynlleth
  • Milford Haven
  • Newport – Electrified
  • Pembroke Dock

Running Welsh Routes With Electric Trains

These routes make up the Welsh rail network.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Crewe and Chester are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Crewe stations.

Chester And Holyhead via Llandudno Junction

Consider.

  • All services between Llandudno Junction and England call at Chester.
  • All services running to and from Holyhead call at Llandudno Junction.
  • The route between Chester and Holyhead is without electrification.
  • Chester and Llandudno Junction are 54 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles can leave Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Holyhead stations.

Chester And Liverpool Lime Street

Consider.

  • The route between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Runcorn is without electrification.
  • Chester and Runcorn are 14 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Runcorn with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

Chester And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • The route between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay is without electrification.
  • Chester and Warrington Bank Quay are 18 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Warrington Bank Quay with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Manchester Airport stations.

Chester And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Chester and Shrewsbury are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Chester with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Shrewsbury stations.

Llandudno And Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The route between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog is without electrification.
  • Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations.

Machynlleth And Aberystwyth

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Aberystwyth are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth stations.

Machynlleth And Pwllheli

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Pwllheli is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Pwllheli are 58 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 58 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Pwllheli with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Pwllheli stations.

Machynlleth And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Shrewsbury with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury stations.

Shrewsbury and Birmingham International

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham International and Wolverhampton is electrified.
  • The route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton are 30 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

 Shrewsbury And Cardiff Central via Hereford

Consider.

  • All services between Cardiff Central and Shrewsbury call at Hereford.
  • The route between Cardiff Central and Newport is electrified.
  • The route between Newport and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Hereford are 51 miles apart.
  • Hereford and Newport are 44 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central stations.

Shrewsbury And Crewe

  • The route between Shrewsbury and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Crewe are 33 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Crewe stations.

Shrewsbury and Swansea

Consider.

  • The Heart of Wales Line between Shrewsbury and Swansea is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Swansea are 122 miles apart.
  • Trains cross at Llandrindod and wait for up to eleven minutes, so there could be time for a charge.
  • Shrewsbury and Llandrindod are 52 miles apart.
  • Swansea and Llandrindod are 70 miles apart.

It appears that another charging station between Swansea and Llandrindod is needed

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Swansea and the other charging station, with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Swansea stations.

Swansea And Cardiff Central

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Cardiff Central is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Cardiff Central are 46 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Cardiff Central with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Cardiff Central stations.

Swansea And Carmarthen

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Carmarthen is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Carmarthen with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Carmarthen stations.

Swansea And Fishguard Harbour

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Fishguard Harbour are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Fishguard Harbour are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Fishguard Harbour with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour stations.

Swansea And Milford Haven

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Milford Haven is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Milford Haven are 72 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Milford Haven are 41 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Milford Haven with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Milford Haven stations.

Swansea And Pembroke Dock

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Pembroke Dock is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Pembroke Dock are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Pembroke Dock with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Pembroke Dock stations.

Other Routes

I have not covered these routes.

  • Borderlands Line
  • Cardiff Valley Lines, that will be part of the South Wales Metro
  • Routes on the electrified South Wales Main Line, that are to the East of Cardiff.

The first will run between Chester and the electrified Merseyrail system and the others will be electrified, except for short stretches.

Stations Where Trains Would Be Charged

These stations will need charging facilities.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth station only has a single terminal platform.

I’ve not been to the station, but looking at pictures on the Internet, I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems.

Birmingham International

Birmingham International station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Blaenau Fflestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Cardiff

Cardiff station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Chester

Chester station has two through platforms and one bay platform, that are used by Trains for Wales.

  • The through platforms are bi-directional.
  • The bay platform is used by services from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  • The station is a terminus for Merseyrail’s electric trains, which use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Some through services stop for up to seven minutes in the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

The simplest way to charge trains at Chester would be to electrify the two through platforms 3 and 4 and the bay platform 1.

I would use 750 VDC third-rail, rather than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

I have a vague recollection, that there is an avoiding line at Chester station, so trains can go straight through. Perhaps that should be electrified too.

Carmarthen

Carmarthen station is a two platform station, with a rather unusual layout, that I wrote about in Changing Trains At Carmarthen Station.

I took these pictures when I passed through in 2016.

Note the unusual step-free crossing of the tracks.

This Google Map shows the layout at the station.

I believe it is another station, where third-rail electrification could be the solution.

  • Most trains seem to reverse at the station, which gives time for a full charge.
  • Others terminate here.

but would they still allow passengers to cross the line as they do now, whilst trains are being charged?

Crewe

Crewe station is fully-electrified.

  • Trains for Wales seem to use Platform 6 for through trains and the bay Platform 9 for terminating trains.
  • Both platforms appear to be electrified.
  • Terminating trains appear to wait at least 9-11 minutes before leaving.

It does appear that Crewe station is ready for battery-electric trains.

Fishguard Harbour

Fishguard Harbour station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Hereford

Hereford station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As with Chester, I would electrify this station with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.

But the electrification wouldn’t be just for train services in Wales.

  • West Midlands Trains, run an hourly service to Birmingham New Street and there is only a forty-one mile gap in the electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove.
  • Great Western Railway’s service to London, has a massive ninety-six mile run to the electrification at Didcot Junction, which could be bridged by installing charging facilities at Worcestershire Parkway and/or Honeybourne stations.

Both services have generous turnround times at Hereford, so would be able to leave fully-charged.

Distances from Hereford station are as follows.

  • Abergavenny – 24 miles
  • Bromsgrove – 41 miles
  • Great Malvern – 21 miles
  • Honeybourne – 48 miles
  • Ludlow – 13 miles
  • Newport – 44 miles
  • Shrewsbury – 51 miles
  • Worcester Parkway – 33 miles

Hereford station could be a serious battery-electric train hub.

Holyhead

Holyhead station has three terminals platforms.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Llandrindod

Llandrindod station has two through platforms.

I took these pictures at the station as I passed through in 2016.

The Heart of Wales Line is certainly a route, that would benefit from larger trains. Zero-carbon battery-electric trains would surely fit well in the area.

This Google Map shows the station.

It would appear that, it is another station, that could be fitted with third-rail electrification to charge the trains.

Distances from Llandrindod station are as follows.

  • Shrewsbury – 52 miles
  • Llandovery – 27 miles
  • Llanelli – 59 miles
  • Swansea – 70 miles

It would appear that a second station with charging facilities or bigger batteries are needed.

Llandudno Junction

Llandudno Junction station has four platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As at Chester, the simple solution would be to electrify the platforms used by trains, that will need charging.

Butb there may also be a wider plan.

Llandudno Junction station is at the Western end of a string of five closely-spaced stations with Prestatyn station in the East.

  • Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn are eight miles apart.
  • Trains take twenty-three minutes to pass through this section.
  • Some trains do a detour to Llandudno station before continuing.
  • For part of the route, the railway lies between the dual-carriageway A55 road and the sea.

So why not electrify this section of railway between Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn stations?

  • Either 750 VDC this-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Prestatyn and Chester are 46 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

If third-rail electrification were to be used, it might be advantageous to electrify to Llandudno station.

  • It would be less intrusive.
  • It would be quieter in an urban area.
  • It would give the trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog trains a good charge.

But above all third-rail electrification might cost a bit less and cause less disruption to install.

Machynlleth

Machynlleth station is where the Aberystwyth and Pwllheli services split and join.

This Google Map shows the station.

Consider.

  • There is a train depot by the station.
  • Will there be a good power supply at the station to charge the trains?
  • Machnylleth and Pwllhelli are 58 miles apart.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I think that Machynlleth might be pushing things too far, without extra stations with charging facilities.

One solution might be to develop the Riding Sunbeams concept and electrify the route between Newtown and Dovey Junction via Machynlleth, using third-rail technology powered-by solar or wind power.

Another solution would be batteries with a larger capacity.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Milford Haven

Milford Haven station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pembroke Dock

Pembroke Dock station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pwllheli

Pwhelli station is a only has a single terminal platform.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

The stsation is at the North West corner of the bay.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that I have to go.

So I took a closer look at the station instead.

I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems. Although, there might be a problem getting a good enough connection to the National Grid.

Shewsbury

Shrewsbury station is a five-platform station.

This Google Map shows the station’s unusual location over the River Severn.

It must be one of few stations in the world, where trains enter the station from three different directions.

  • From Crewe and Chester to the North.
  • From Hereford and Wales to the South.
  • From Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the East.

Adding electrification to all or selected platforms should allow trains to recharge and be on their way.

  • Under current timetables, dwell times in Shrewsbury are up to eight minutes.
  • I would suspect the train times could be adjusted, so that trains left the station with full batteries.

With battery-electric services to Aberystwyth, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Chester, Crewe, Hereford, Holyhead, London Euston, Manchester, Pwllheli and Swansea, it will be a very important station.

Swansea

Swansea station has four terminal platforms.

A charging facility could be added to an appropriate number of platforms.

Or perhaps, the last few miles of track into the station should be electrified, so trains could charge on the way in, charge in the station and charge on the way out.

Third Rail Electrification

I have suggested in this post, that 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used in several places.

I will repeat what I said earlier, when discussing Chester station.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

Third-rail electrification should be seriously considered.

A Standardised Terminal Solution

In this post, I mentioned that the following stations could be powered by a scandalised solution, as they are all one platform, terminal stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Holyhead
  • Milford Haven
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pwllheli

The system might also be applicable at Carmarthen and Swansea.

My view is that Vivarail’s Fast Track charging based on third-rail technology would be ideal. I discussed this technology in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Conclusion

With a bit of ingenuity, all train services run by Transport for Wales, can be run with battery-electric trains.

 

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station

Leicester station is an important station on the Midland Main Line

  • Leicester is an urban area of half a million people.
  • All of East Midlands Railway Intercity services call as they pass through the station.
  • Leicester station is only sixteen miles North of the end of the Southern electrification at Market Harborough station.
  • Birmingham New Street is 40 miles away.
  • Clay Cross North Junction is 50 miles away.
  • Derby is 29 miles away.
  • East Midlands Parkway is 19 miles away.
  • Long Eaton is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 27 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 52 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 66 miles away.

A sensible decision would probably be to extend the electrification from Market Harborough to a few miles North of Leicester, so that battery-electric trains could reach all the places in the above list.

Unfortunately, the following about the bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station, must be noted.

  • The bridge doesn’t have sufficient clearance for electrification and would need to be rebuilt.
  • It carries the main A6 road to London over the railway.
  • The station building also spans the railway lines.
  • To complicate matters, there is an important sewer either in or under the bridge.

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.

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 in Leicester station.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of a few hundred metres on battery power.

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

  • On the North side of the bridge, this could be in Leicester station, whilst passengers are getting off and on the train.
  • On the South side of the bridge, this could be as far South as Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles away.

The other big problem area of electrification on the Midland Main Line is North of Derby, where the railway runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. There might be serious opbjections to electrification in this area.

  • But if electrification were to be installed between Leicester and Derby stations, the following would be possible.
  • The Midland Main Line would be electrified at East Midlands Hub station.
  • Power could be taken from High Speed Two’s supply at East Midland Hub station.
  • Battery-electric trains could do a return trip to Nottingham from an electrified East Midlands Parkway, as it’s only sixteen miles in total.
  • Battery-electric trains could reach the High Speed Two spur into Sheffield at Clay Cross from Derby, as it’s only twenty-one miles.

I am assuming, that Hitachi’s Class 810 trains will have range of over fifty miles on battery power, which fits with Hitachi’s statements.

Conclusion

Discontinuous electrification and batteries on trains can solve the problem of electrification through Leicester station.

Also. electric trains could run between London and Sheffield, if the following were done.

  • The Class 810 trains were to be given a range of twenty-five miles
  • Electrification were to be erected between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrification were to be erected between Sheffield and Clay Cross Junction, as required by High Speed Two.

The electrification could be brought forward, to bring Sheffield early benefits of High Speed Two.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Solar Firm To Develop Novel Electronics For Rail Renewables

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Engineering and Technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Solar energy company Riding Sunbeams has won funding to develop power electronics technology that will enable it to feed renewable electricity directly into railway overhead wires.

Because solar panels and lithium-ion batteries work in DC and overhead electrification works in AC, this sentence describes the main objective of the project.

The Daybreak demonstrator will repurpose existing technology already being used on UK rail networks for other purposes to create a new device that will provide the required power conversion.

Existing technology and equipment will be used to save time and costs and because it is already rail-certified.

The rest of the article fleshes out a few details.

The test system will be installed at Quinton Rail Technology Centre at Long Marston.

This is the closing paragraph.

In particular, Riding Sunbeams hopes its technology will be able to play a part in delivering 70MW of direct-wire renewable generation to help power the soon-to-be-electrified Core Valley Lines in South Wales through a mixture of solar, wind and energy storage.

As electrification in the Core Valley Lines will be discontinuous, it could appear that the technology developed in this project could help connect and reduce costs.

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Steventon Listed Railway Bridge Saved From Demolition

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

On the face of it it looks like victory for the Nimbys, who have saved a rather ordinary and possibly decrepit bridge from demolition.

But I believe there is more to this story than meets the eye.

The Bridge

The bridge at the centre of the argument may be Grade 2 Listed, but there are lots of similar bridges on UK railways in better condition with similar heritage, that don’t have a listing.

Type “steventon bridge electrification” into a search engine and you’ll find lots of images of the bridge.

  • One picture shows, the bridge with the railway flooded, which puts an interesting slant on the debate. What are the foundations like?
  • Notice, that the bridge seemed to suffer a rather botched repair at the hands of British Rail’s finest engineers.
  • Having read a lot about this story, I suspect that the locals’ main reason for objecting, is that they don’t want the disruption, whilst it is rebuilt.
  • Incidentally, I suspect Great Western Railway don’t want the bridge rebuilt either, as closure will be a long disruption to all services.

I have been involved in the refurbishment of several buildings of around the same age or even older than the bridge. This is the sort of construction, that will have to be replaced at some time. If it’s not replaced, some of the novel techniques that are now available to Network Rail will have to be applied.

Network Rail

The article says this about Network Rail’s solution to the problem.

But following what the company described as ‘extensive and breakthrough testing’ using computer simulations it found a speed reduction to 110mph through the village meant wires could pass underneath the existing bridge.

I do think, that 110 mph is rather convenient. if you look at the maximum operating speeds of trains and locomotives that will pass through.

  • Class 801 train with digital signalling -140 mph
  • Class 801 with conventional signalling – 125 mph
  • Class 800/802 train on diesel power – 100 mph
  • Class 80x train on battery power – 100 mph
  • Class 387 train – 110 mph
  • Class 90 locomotive – 110 mph
  • Class 91 locomotive – 125 mph
  • Class 93 locomotive – 110 mph
  • High Speed Train – 125 mph

Very few trains will have to slow down.

Any train that used onboard power, like a High Speed Train or a Class 80x with batteries, could theoretically go through at the maximum speed, track, signalling and train taken together would allow.

Hitachi

In Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, which describes Hitachi’s work and plans on battery-powered trains. This is an extract.

Battery power can be used as part of electrification schemes, allowing trains to bridge the gaps in overhead wires where the costs of altering the infrastructure are high – in tunnels or bridges, for example. This would also have the immediate benefit of reducing noise and emissions in stations or built-up areas.

Elsewhere in the article, it is said that Hitachi trains will be able to do 100 mph on battery power for up to 60 miles.

But would they be able to do 125 mph on battery power for perhaps five miles? I can’t see why not!

The Google Map shows the track through Steventon.

Note.

  1. The bridge in question is at the East.
  2. There are also a couple of level crossings in this stretch of track, where the height of wires is also regulated.

Perhaps, the pantograph should be dropped before going through section and raised afterwards, with power in the section taken from a battery.

Avoiding obstacles like this, may be an economic alternative, but it does require that all electric trains using the section are able to use battery power.

I have a feeling, I’ve read somewhere that a Class 88 locomotive can do a similar trick using the onboard diesel engine.

As a Control Engineer, who trained in the 1960s, I would expect that all pantographs can now be raised or lowered with all the precision and repeatability  of an Olympic gold-medal gymnast!

I do wonder, if the Great Western Electrification Project had been designed around discontinuous electrification and battery-electric trains, the project would have gone better.

For instance, the Severn Tunnel is 7,000 metres long and trains take under four minutes to pass through. The Wikipedia entry for the tunnel has a section on Electrification, which details the complicated design and the trouble that there has been with corrosion.

Given that battery-electric trains have other advantages, design by hindsight, says that a tunnel without electrification and battery trains may have been a better solution.

Conclusion

Network Rail and Hitachi will get the speed of trains through Steventon up to 125 or even 140 mph, possibly by using battery power.

But whatever happens, I’m certain that the bridge will have to be rebuilt! It has the air of a derelict house, that will suck up all your money.

 

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment