The Anonymous Widower

Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand

The title of this post is the same ass this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Solar panels could be used to power a sizeable chunk of Britain’s DC electric rail network, a new report has suggested.

Climate change charity 10:10 and Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab looked at the feasibility of using solar panels alongside the track to directly power the railway.

The report claims that 15 per cent of the commuter network in Kent, Sussex and Wessex could be powered directly by 200 small solar farms. It suggested that solar panels could also supply 6 per cent of the London Underground’s energy requirements and 20 per cent of the Merseyrail network.

In another article in today’s Times about the study, this is said.

Installing solar farms and batteries alongside lines also could provide the extra energy needed to power more carriages on busy routes that otherwise would require prohibitively expensive upgrades to electricity networks.

Note the use of batteries mentioned in the extract from The Times. This would be sensible design as power can be stored, when the sun is shining and used when it isn’t!

If you want to read the full report, click here!

I will lay out my thoughts in the next few sections.

Is This Technique More Applicable To Rail-Based Direct Current Electrification?

All of the routes mentioned for application of these solar farms,; Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail are electrified using one of two rail-based direct current systems.

Consider the following.

Powering The Track

In the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Wires Through The Weald, which discusses electrification of the Uckfield Branch in Sussex, as proposed by Chris Gibb. This is an extract.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

It would appear that as rail-based direct current electrification needs a lot of feeder stations along the line, this might be better suited for solar power and battery electrification systems.

Consider.

  • Most of the feeder stations would not need a connection to the National Grid.
  • Solar panels generate low direct current voltages, which are probably cheaper to convert to 750 VDC than 25 KVAC.
  • In installing electrification on a line like the Uckfield Branch, you would install the extra rails needed and a solar farm and battery system every two or three miles.
  • With the situation mentioned in the extract from The Times, you might add a solar farm and battery system, to a section of track, where more power is needed.
  • For efficiency and safety, power would only be sent to the rail when a train was present.

I trained as an Electrical Engineer and I very much feel, that solar power and battery systems are better suited to powering rail-based electrification. Although, they could be used for the overhead DC systems we use in the UK for trams.

Modular Design

Each of the solar farm and battery systems could be assembled from a series of factory-built modules.

This would surely make for a cost-effective installation, where capacity and capabilities could be trailored to the location.

Regenerative Braking

Modern trains use regenerative braking, which means that braking energy is converted into electricity. The electricity is handled in one of the following ways.

  1. It is turned into heat using resistors on the train roof.
  2. It is returned through the electrification system and used to power nearby trains.
  3. It is stored in a battery on the train.

Note.

  1. Option 1 is not efficient.
  2. Option 2 is commonly used on the London Underground and other rail-based electrification systems.
  3. Option 2 needs special transformers  to handle 25 KVAC systems.
  4. Option 3 is efficient and is starting to be developed for new trains and trams.

If batteries are available at trackside, then these can also be used to store braking energy.

I believe that using solar farm and battery systems would also enable efficient regenerative braking on the lines they powered.

But again, because of the transformer issue, this would be much easier on rail-bassed direct current electrification systems.

Could Wind Turbines Be Used?

Both solar farms and wind turbines are not guaranteed to provide continuous power, but putting a wind turbine or two by the solar farm would surely increase the efficiency of the system, by generating energy in two complimentary ways and then storing it until a train came past.

Wind energy could also be available for more hours in the day and could even top up the battery in the dark.

In fact, why stop with wind turbines?

Any power source could be used. On a coastal railway, it might be wave or tidal power.

Would The Technique Work With Battery Trains?

Most certainly!

I haven’t got the time or the software to do a full simulation, but I suspect that a route could have an appropriate number of solar farm and battery systems and each would give the battery train a boost, as it went on its way.

Would The Technique Work With 25 KVAC Electrification?

It would be more expensive due to the inverter involved to create the 25 KVAC needed.

But I feel it would be another useful tool in perhaps electrifying a tunnel or a short length of track through a station.

It could also be used to charge a train working a branch line on batteries.

Would The Technique Work With Dual Voltage Trains?

Many trains in the UK can work with both third-rail 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Classes of trains include.

  • The Class 319 trains built for Thameslink in the 1980s.
  • The Class 345 trains being built for Crossrail.
  • The Class 387 trains built for various operators.
  • The Class 700 trains recently built for Thamelink.

There are also other classes that could be modified to run on both systems.

Provided they are fitted with third-rail shoes, there is no reason to stop dual-voltage trains running on a line electrified using solar farms and batteries.

The technique could surely be used to electrify a branch line from a main line electrified using 25 KVAC.

Consider Henley Branch Line.

  • It is four-and-a half miles long.
  • It is not electrified.
  • It connects to the electrified Great Western Main Line at Twyford station.
  • The line can handle trains up to six-cars.
  • All services on the line are worked by diesel trains.

Services consist of a shuttle between Henley-on-Thames and Twyford, with extra services to and from Paddington in the Peak and during the Regatta.

Network Rail were planning to electrify the line using 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but this has been cancelled, leaving the following options for Paddington services.

  • Using battery trains, possibly based on the Class 387 trains, which would be charged between Paddington and Twyford.
  • Using Class 800 bi-mode trains.
  • Using Class 769 bi-mode trains.

All options would mean that the diesel shuttle continued or it could be replaced with a Class 769 bi-mode train.

An alternative would be to electrify the branch using third-rail fitted with solar farm and battery systems.

  • All services on the line could be run by Class 387 trains.
  • Voltage changeover would take place in Twyford station.

There are several lines that could be served in this way.

Installation Costs

I’ll repeat my earlier quote from the Modern Railways article.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

If you were going to electrify, the twenty-four non-electrified miles of the Marshlink Line, with traditional Southern  Electric third-rail, you would need around 8-12 National Grid connections to power the line. As the Romney Marsh is probably not blessed with a dense electricity network, although it does have a nuclear power station, so although putting in the extra rails may be a relatively easy and affordable project, providing the National Grid connection may not be as easy.

But use solar farm and battery systems on the remoter areas of the line and the number of National Grid connections will be dramatically reduced.

Good National Grid connections are obviously available at the two ends of the line at Hastings and Ashford International stations. I also suspect that the electricity network at Rye station could support a connection for the electrification.

This could mean that six to eight solar farm and battery systems would be needed to electrify this important line.

I obviously, don’t have the actual costs, but this could be a very affordable way of electrifying a remote third-rail line.

Which Lines Could Be Electrified Using Solar Farm And Battery Systems?

For a line to be electrified and powered by solar farm and battery systems, I think the line must have some of the following characteristics.

  • It is a line that is suitable for rail-based direct current electrification.
  • It is not a particularly stiff line with lots of gradients.
  • It is in a rural area, where National Grid connections will be difficult and expensive.
  • It has a connection to other lines electrified by rail-based systems.

Lines to electrify are probably limited to  Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail.

I also suspect there are several branch lines that could be reopened or electrified using rail-based electrification.

Conclusion

It’s a brilliantly simple concept that should be developed.

It is well suited to be used with rail-based direct current electrification.

It would be ideal for the electrification of the Uckfield Branch.

 

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

Hybrid Trains Proposed To Ease HS1 Capacity Issues

The title of this post is the same as an article in Issue 840 of Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Battery-powered hybrid trains could be running on High Speed 1, offering a solution to capacity problems and giving the Marshlink route a direct connection to London.

Hitachi Rail Europe CEO Jack Commandeur is quoted as saying.

We see benefit for a battery hybrid train, that is being developed in Japan, so that is an option for the electrification problem.

I found this article on the Hitachi web site, which is entitled Energy-Saving Hybrid Propulsion System Using Storage–Battery Technology.

It is certainly an article worth reading.

This is an extract.

Hitachi has developed this hybrid propulsion system jointly with East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) for the application to next-generation diesel cars. Hitachi and JR-East have carried out the performance trials of the experimental vehicles with this hybrid propulsion system, which is known as NE@train.
Based on the successful results of this performance trial, Ki-Ha E200 type vehicle entered into the world’s first commercial operation of a train installed with the hybrid propulsion system in July 2007.

The trains are running on the Koumi Line in Japan. This is Wikipedia’s description of the line.

Some of the stations along the Koumi Line are among the highest in Japan, with Nobeyama Station reaching 1,345 meters above sea level. Because of the frequent stops and winding route the full 78.9 kilometre journey often takes as long as two and a half hours to traverse, however the journey is well known for its beautiful scenery.

The engineers, who chose this line for a trial of battery trains had obviously heard Barnes Wallis‘s quote.

There is no greater thrill in life than proving something is impossible and then showing how it can be done.

But then all good engineers love a challenge.

In some ways the attitude of the Japanese engineers is mirrored by those at Porterbrook and Northern, who decided that the Class 769 train, should be able to handle Northern’s stiffest line, which is the Buxton Line. But Buxton is nowhere near 1,345 metres above sea level.

The KiHa E200 train used on the Koumi Line are described like this in Wikipedia.

The KiHa E200 is a single-car hybrid diesel multiple unit (DMU) train type operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) on the Koumi Line in Japan. Three cars were delivered in April 2007, entering revenue service from 31 July 2007.

Note that the railway company involved is JR East, who have recently been involved in bidding for rail franchises in the UK and are often paired with Abellio.

The Wikipedia entry for the train has a section called Hybrid Operation Cycle. This is said.

On starting from standstill, energy stored in lithium-ion batteries is used to drive the motors, with the engine cut out. The engine then cuts in for further acceleration and running on gradients. When running down gradients, the motor acts as a generator, recharging the batteries. The engine is also used for braking.

I think that Hitachi can probably feel confident that they can build a train, that can handle the following.

  • High Speed One on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Ore to Hastings on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The Marshlink Line on stored energy in lithium-ion batteries.

The Marshlink Line has a big advantage as a trial line for battery trains.

Most proposals say that services will call at Rye, which is conveniently around halfway along the part of the route without electrification.

I believe that it would be possible to put third-rail electrification in Rye station, that could be used to charge the batteries, when the train is in the station.

The power would only be switched on, when a train is stopped in the station, which should deal with any third-rail safety problems.

Effectively, the battery-powered leg would be split into two shorter ones.

 

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

OLE Changes To Boost Midland Main Line Speeds

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 840 of Rail Magazine.

Currently, the overhead line equipment (OLE) between St. Pancras and Bedford is rated at 100 mph.

But the new OLE between Bedford and Corby via Kettering is going to be built to a standard that will allow 125 mph running.

The article goes on to say that to make the best use of  125 mph bi-mode trains, the possibility of upgrading the St. Pancras to Bedford electrification to the 125 mph standard.

This must give advantages.

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

The Rigid Overhead Conductor Rails At St. Pancras Thameslink Station

Whilst waiting for a train in St. Pancras Thameslink station, I noticed that the station has been fitted with rigid overhead conductor rails.

I couldn’t remember it being there before. But I don’t often go to the station.

However, I did find this page in Rail Forums, which is entitled Conductor Rail At St. Pancras Thameslink.

Apparently, the change was made at Easter 2013. This is one reply.

Installed over Easter. Known as conductor beam. The contact wire is fixed to the underside. Much more robust than regular OLE, and practically zero maintenance.

It has replaced a tricky tension length of OLE between approx half way along St Pancras LL platforms and the middle of the old KX Thameslink platforms. The curvature, cant and gradient change through this section made the OLE pretty difficult to keep in the right place and had high wear rates.

Likely the conductor beam will be extended north through to Dock Jn and through the new Canal tunnels, not confirmed yet.

Given the robust nature and lower maintenance costs, I think we’ll be seeing lots more of this type of electrification.

November 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Comments Off on The Rigid Overhead Conductor Rails At St. Pancras Thameslink Station

UK Rolling Stock Strategy: Diesel, Bi-mode and Fuel Cell-Powered Trains

The title of this post is the same as that on an article in Global Rail News.

I will not repeat myself here, but I laid down my thoughts in The Intelligent Multi-Mode Train And Affordable Electrification.

In that post, I said that an Intelligent Multi-Mode Train would have these characteristics.

  • Electric drive with regenerative braking.
  • Diesel or hydrogen power-pack.
  • Onboard energy storage to handle the energy generated by braking.
  • 25 KVAC and/or 750 VDC operation.
  • Automatic pantograph and third-rail shoe deployment.
  • Automatic power source selection.
  • The train would be designed for low energy use.
  • Driver assistance system, so the train was driven safely, economically and to the timetable.

Note the amount of automation to ease the workload for the driver and run the train efficiently.

After discussing affordable electrification, I came to the following conclusion.

There are a very large number of techniques that can enable a multi-mode train to roam freely over large parts of the UK.

It is also a team effort, with every design element of the train, track, signalling and stations contributing to an efficient low-energy train, that is not too heavy.

 

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Just Add Trains

I took these pictures of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, as it passes past the Engine House on the Walthamstow Wetlands site.

This section, which is probably one of the easiest bits to electrify, looks to be ready for the trains.

Note that the pictures looking down on the line were taken from the fire escape on the side of the Engine House, shown in the last picture.

This Google Map shows the Gospel Oak To Barking Line crossing the area.

Note.

  • The Engine House has a green label saying Walthamstow Wetlands.
  • The bus stops by the Ferry Boat Inn have buses to and from Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Road stations.
  • The Engine House is about a hundred metres from the bus stops and
  • The Engine House has a step-free entrance and a lift inside.

The Engine House is certainly worth the walk.

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | 2 Comments

New Railway Line For West London Proposed

The title of this post is the same as this article on Ian Visits.

I’ve also found this article on the Hendon Times, where the railway line is called the West Orbital Railway.

The West Orbital Railway now has a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Dudding Hill Line, which is entitled West Orbital Railway Proposal. This is said.

In September 2017, a proposal for a new West Orbital Railway from Hounslow to Hendon using the disused Dudding Hill Line could go via a new station at Old Oak Common which would be located at Victoria Road and other new stations at Staples Corner, Harlesden and Old Oak Common Victoria Road. 4 trains per hour would run from Hendon to Hounslow and another service from Hendon to Kew Bridge via Old Oak Common.

The proposal seems to be creeping into the media.

The Preamble

I will describe a few of the lines in the area first.

The Dudding Hill Line

The Dudding Hill Line is one of London’s unknown and almost forgotten railway lines.

Passenger services ceased in 1902, although even today the occasional charter service uses the line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Dudding Hill Line.

Note.

  • How the line joins the Midland Main Line in a triangular junction, which is North of Criklewood station, enabling North and South connections.
  • How the line crosses the Chiltern Main Line by Neasden station.
  • How the line crosses the electrified West Coast Main Line by Harlesden station.
  • How the line joins the North London Line just North of the electrified Great Western Main Line.

This connectivity makes it a very useful freight line.

The Hendon Freight Lines

These two lines run on the Western side of the Midland Main Line between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hendon stations,

North of Hendon they cross the tracks of the Midland Main Line on a flyover and merge with the Slow Lines at Silkstream Junction.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Hendon.

The Hendon Freight Lines have following properties.

  • They are only partially electrified.
  • They have double-track connections from the North to the Dudding Hill Line, which is named the Brent Curve and Brent Curve Junction.
  • They have double-track connections from the South to the Dudding Hill Line, which is named the Cricklewood Curve and Cricklewood Curve Junction.
  • As shown at Hendon in the map, the Hendon Up Line passes behind Platform 4 at Hendon, Cricklewood and West Hampstead Thameslink stations.

The innovative use of these lines will be an important part of the proposal for a new passenger service in West London.

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line and the Dudding Hill Line are linked together by the Midland Main Line,

  • Between the two lines is fully electrified
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line will be electrified from May 2018.
  • The connecting lines between the Midland Main Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line are being electrified around Carlton Road Junction.

This will enable electrified freight trains from East London to the Midlands, using the following route.

  • Gospel Oak To Barking Line
  • Carlton Road Junction
  • Midland Main Line.

Note that there is no flyover between Carlton Road Junction and the Dudding Hill Line, which means they have to cross the Midland Main Line on the flat.

For this reason, electrified freight trains for the West Coast Main Line and the Great Western Main Line must probably take the North London Line from Gospel Oak station.

This probably rules out passenger services between Barking and Acton, using the Dudding Hill Line.

However passenger trains from East London could continue up the Midland Main Line to a suitable terminal.

Class 710 Trains

The Class 710 trains that will be delivered for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line have the following characteristics.

  • They are Aventras
  • They are dual-voltage and can operate on both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • They may be fitted with onboard energy storage to operate without electrification for a few miles.

If the last point is true, they will be able to run between West Hamsted Thameslink or Hendon and South Acton stations, with a change of voltage at Acton Central station, using onboard energy storage on the Dudding Hill Line.

The Proposal

The West London Railway has been proposed by a consortium of West London Councils and other interests, that the Dudding Hill Line be reopened to passenger trains.

The passenger service would open in two phases.

  1. West Hampstead to Hounslow via Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth.
  2. Hendon to Kew Bridge via Hendon, Brent Cross/Staples Corner, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central and South Acton.

Four trains per hour (tph) would run on both routes.

How Does The Proposal Stack Up?

In the following sub-sections, I’ll discuss the various issues.

Track And Signalling

This is said about the current state of track and signalling in Wikipedia.

In 2009, the track has received considerable maintenance in parts, including complete track and ballast removal and replacement. It was informally thought locally by Network Rail staff that replacement signalling, controlled from Upminster, was planned for Christmas 2010, leading to the closure of the three signal boxes (staffed 24-hours a day, at least during the working week). However, financial constraints within Network Rail have now delayed this timescale.

It looks like the track is in good condition, but the signalling needs replacing.

How Would The Service Be Run?

The Hendon Freight Lines connect to the Dudding Hill Line to give all possible access needed.

It should also be relatively easy to put a single platform on the Up Hendon Line at the following stations.

  • West Hampstead – It would act as a terminus.
  • Cricklewood
  • Brent Cross – When the station is built.
  • Hendon – It could act as a terminus.

The new platforms would have the following characteristics.

  • They would probably be numbered 5.
  • They would probably be able to share platform access and other services with current Platform 4 at each station.
  • Little demolition of existing buildings and structures would be required.

A Phase One service coming North from Neasden could do the following.

  • Take the Cricklewood Curve from the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Join the Up Hendon Line.
  • Stop in the new Platform 5 at Cricklewood.
  • Continue on the Up Hendon Line to the new Platform 5 at West Hampstead Thameslink.
  • Reverse the train at West Hampstead.
  • Proceed to and stop in Platform 5 at Cricklewood. Existing cross-overs would allow use of both Hendon Lines.
  • Cross over to the Down Hendon Line and take the Cricklewood Curve to rejoin the Dudding Hill Line.

As the service is four tph, provided a train can leave and return to the Dudding Hill Line in fifteen minutes, there should be no problem.

Currently, Cricklewood to West Hampstead takes three minutes, so the Phase One service looks possible.

The Phase Two service to Hendon could do the following.

  • Take the Brent Curve from the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Join the Up Hendon Line.
  • Stop in the new Platform 5 at Hendon.
  • Reverse the train at Hendon
  • Take the Brent Curve to rejoin the Dudding Hill Line

It looks to be a simple plan, that makes good use of the existing infrastructure.

  • Building the extra platforms at Hendon, Cricklewood and West Hampstead shouldn’t be difficult.
  • The new routes don’r cross the Midland Main Line.
  • The Hendon Lines seem to have plenty of cross-overs and I don’t think any new ones are needed.
  • Dual voltage trains would be at home on all existing electrification.

At the Southern end of the route, everything appears fairly simple.

Why Are There Two Phases?

If it’s so simple, why is the service proposed to have two phases?

Look at this map from carto.map.free.fr, which shows the railways around Brent Cross.

The development of Brent Cross Cricklewood and the building of Brent Cross Thameslink station is going to be a massive undertaking. This describes the development in Wikipedia.

Brent Cross Cricklewood is a planned new town centre development in Hendon and Cricklewood, London, United Kingdom. The development is planned to cost around £4.5 billion to construct and will include 7,500 homes, 4,000,000 sq ft (370,000 m2) of offices, four parks, transport improvements and a 592,000 sq ft (55,000 m2) extension of Brent Cross Shopping Centre. The developers of the scheme are Hammerson and Standard Life. Construction is planned to start in 2018 and be completed in 2021-22

The development will include the building of Brent Cross Thameslink station and the redevelopment of Cricklewood station.

Looking at the Phase One route to West Hampstead Thameslink, the following applies.

  • The route doesn’t go past the Brent Cross development.
  • The terminal platform at West Hampstead Thameslink would be step-free with a lift.
  • The Up Hendon Line is electrified at \West Hampstead Thameslink, but it is not at Hendon.
  • Hendon station needs a lot of work to make it step-free.
  • West Hampstead Thameslink could be part of a growing West Hampstead Interchange with excellent connections.
  • The service could even go straight through Cricklewood station, until it was redeveloped.

It would thus appear that for an easy and affordable construction, the service should serve West Hampstead Thameslink first.

Once Brent Cross Thameslink station is open, Hendon and Kew Bridge stations are updated, Phase Two can open.

Electrification

The electrification of the twelve mile route on the Chase Line between Rugeley and Walsall was budgeted at £78 million.

So hopefully, the four miles of the Dudding Hill Line should be able to be electrified for a reasonable cost.

Consider.

  • The track is in reasonable condition and probably well-surveyed.
  • There are a few bridges that might need to be raised.
  • There are no stations to electrify, just provision to be made.
  • Both ends of the route are electrified.
  • The route connects to three electrified main lines.
  • Electrification of the line would cause little if any disruption to passenger services.

I think that the needs of electrified freight will decide whether this route is electrified.

A Passenger Service Without Electrification

Dudding Hill Line Electrification is not necessary to run s passenger service using Class 710 trains.

  • Class 710 trains with onboard energy storage could easily bridge the four-mile electrification gap between the Midland Main Line and the North London Line.
  • There would be no problem charging the onboard energy storage at each end of the routes.
  • At various places, Aventras will share station platforms with Thameslink’s Class 700 trains and the North London Line’s Class 378 trains, so there should be no station issues.
  • From Acton Central to Hounslow and Kew Bridge, the trains would use the third-rail electrification.

Class 710 trains wouldn’t mind if the line is electrified or not.

Stations

The following stations will need to be built or modified.

  • Brent Cross Thameslink – New station to be built as part of large development – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.
  • Gladstone Park – New station on the site of the old Dudding Hill station – Might be and/or with Neasden.
  • Harlesden – New station – Could be linked to the existing station on the Bakerloo Line?
  • Hendon – Existing station – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.
  • Hounslow – Existing station – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.
  • Kew Bridge – Existing station – A new terminus platform would need to be added.
  • Neasden – New station – Could be linked to the existing station on the Jubilee Line?
  • Old Oak Common – New station to be built as part of large development
  • West Hampstead Thameslink – Existing station – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.

The next sections give my thoughts on specific stations.

Brent Cross Thameslink Station

Brent Cross Thameslink station is a planned new station to serve the £4.5 billion Brent Cross Cricklewood development in the area.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this station built as a close-to-London interchange station, in much the same way as Clapham Junction and Abbey Wood stations work and will work in South London.

At a minimum it will have the following characteristics.

  • Two slow platforms for Thameslink services.
  • Two fast platforms for long distance services.
  • Extra platforms for future services.
  • Full step-free access.

The design of the station will be key to extra services using the Midland Main Line.

Cricklewood Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Cricklewood station.

These pictures show the station.

Cricklewood station is one of four stations that need to be modified or built with a Platform 5 on the Up Hendon Line.

The station is also not step-free and this will probably be added in the redevelopment of the station to serve the Brent Cross Cricklewood development..

Harlesden Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Harlesden station.

The Dudding Hill Line runs down the map at the right and it crosses the shared tracks of the Watford DC Line and the Bakerloo Line, just to the West of Harlesden station.

These pictures show the station.

I think that, I am being very truthful, if I said that Harlesden station is not one of the London Underground’s finest stations. Ian in his article said this.

The other station, at Harlesden could also see the old station of the same name rebuilt, but again, the freight line runs close to the current Harlesden station, so a combined building would again be likely, this time with just a modest footbridge needed to link the new platforms to the existing station.

I very much feel that a station can be built at Harlesden on the other side of Acton Lane, that has platforms on both the Watford DC/Bakerloo Lines and the Dudding Hill Line. The high level platforms on the would be connected by steps and/or lifts to the low-level ones.

The new station could even be built without closing any of the lines and once completed the old Harlesden station could be demolished.

It would have the following services.

  • Three tph between Watford Junction and Euston.
  • Nine tph on the Bakerloo Line
  • Four tph between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow.
  • Four tph between Hendon and Kew Bridge

The last two proposed services would provide an eight tph service to Old Oak Common for Crossrail, HS2, the North London Line and most importantly, a very healthy amount of employment opportunities.

Hendon Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Hendon station.

These pictures show the station.

Note.

  • The footbridge is not step-free.
  • The footbridge is used to support the electrification.
  • The electrified fast lines in Platforms 3 and 4.
  • The electrified slow lines in Platforms 1 and 2.
  • The two freight lines without electrification behind the white metal fence on Platform 4.

In my view, this needs to be done.

  • Make the station step-free.
  • Build a Platform 5 on the Up Hendon Line, that backs onto Platform 4, so it can share steps and the lift.
  • Electrify the line through the platform.

The created Platform 5, will be the terminus of the Phase Two service to Kew Bridge.

Hounslow Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Hounslow station.

These pictures show the station.

It will be tight to fit a bay platform into the station, but I suspect, it will be placed on the Up (London-bound) side of the station, in what is now an access road and yard to some business premises, where one is labelled Resco Living.

  • It will need some changes to the cross-overs at the station to allow trains to access the new platform.
  • The station needs a new step-free bridge.

This Google Map shows Hounslow station’s location with respect to Heathrow.

Hounslow station is in the bottom right-hand corer of the map.

I do wonder if Hounslow station, needs a frequent bus to Heathrow Airport. After all the extra four train per hour across London will make it a very busy station.

Kew Bridge Station

This Google Map shows the layout of the lines and the location of Kew Bridge station.

Note.

  • The triangal of lines, of which only the bottom side has any trains.
  • The top angle leads to South Acton station.
  • The proposed Phase One service would use the left side of the triangle.
  • The proposed Phase Two service to Kew Bridge would use the right side of the triangle and terminate in a reopened platform at Kew Bridge station.

These pictures show the station.

The work needed at Kew Bridge station would appear to be very simple.

  • Reinstate the former Platform 3 to handle four tph.
  • Replace the footbridge with a better step-free example.

It would also appear that there is a siding to the East of the station, that could be used to reverse trains if necessary.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Kew.

As Brentford’s new stadium and other large developments are being built in the area, I wonder if the proposed Phase One Hounslow service should call at a reopened Kew station.

Neasden Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Neasden station.

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

These pictures show the station.

Ian says this about Neasden in his article.

The station at Gladstone Park could see the disused station called Dudding Hill brought back into use, although the likelyhood is that a new station closer to Neasden on the Jubilee line would be favoured for the shorter interchange walk.

There may even be enough space to flip the existing Neasden station southwards and link up with the new Overground line to create a single station linking the two lines.

Whether the funding for that would be available will doubtless depend on getting new housing developers to pick up some of the bill.

There are certainly possibilities.

A combined station would give the following services.

  • Upwards of twenty tph on the Jubilee Line
  • Four tph between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow.
  • Four tph between Hendon and Kew Bridge

The last two proposed services would provide an eight tph service to Old Oak Common for Crossrail, HS2, the North London Line and most importantly, a very healthy amount of employment opportunities.

Old Oak Common Station

Old Oak Common station will be a major interchange between the following lines and services.

  • Crossrail
  • HS2
  • Great Western Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line
  • Chiltern Tailways
  • Bakerloo Line
  • Central Line
  • North London Line
  • West London Line

Whoever sorts this lot out, deserves a Turner Prize.

But after seeing some very complicated stations in both the UK and Europe, I believe that it would be possible to create a station that provided easy  step-free interchange between the various lines without walking halfway round the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

 

Connecting the West Orbital Railway to Crossrail would be a very valuable interchange.

West Hampstead Thameslink Station

This Google Map shows the layout of West Hampstead Thameslink station.

 

These pictures show the station.

Note.

  • In the Google Map, the lines are Slow, Fast and Freight from top to bottom.
  • The station is fully step-free.
  • The freight lines are electrified.
  • The last picture shows how the other West Hampstead stations are being improved.

In my view, all that needs to be done is build Platform 5 for the Phase One service behind Platform 4, so that it can share the steps and the lift.

As other improvements are appearing, West Hampstead will become an important interchange. It’s now got the absolute necessity for a Grade A Interchange; an Marks and Spencer Food Store.

Employment, Housing And Social Benefits

In the seven years since I moved to Dalston, the area has improved considerably.

  • New apartment blocks have appeared.
  • The shops, restaurants and cafes have got better.
  • It also appears to me, that the amount of idle youths hanging around has reduced.

I put a lot of all this, down to considerable investment in both buses and railways. It’s probably not surprising as the London Borough of Hackney doesn’t have an Underground station of its own.

The Overground has been a conspicuous success, offering train services of the following nature.

  • Safe, clean stations.
  • Visible, well-trained staff.
  • New modern trains.
  • Train services at a frequency of four tph.

The only problem, is that every time the capacity is expanded it quickly fills.

But then that is only new travellers opting for quality.

On Sunday, I took a ride on top of a bus between Willesden Green and Harlesden stations. These are some pictures I took.

The two most impressive buildings I passed were Courts.

It is my belief that after my experience in Dalston, that improving the transport links in an area of deprivation improves the area considerably, in any number of ways, some of which are rather surprising.

From speaking to people in Dalston, decent reliable transport links seem to have the benefit that those who are unemployed often benefit substantially, by being able to get to nre-found work easily and on time.

So if the proposed line is built with stations at Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common will we see the improvement in North West London, that the Overground has brought to Dalston?

Unfortunately, the only way to test my theory is to build the line.

Building The Line

This is no Crossrail or HS2, where billions need to be spent.

The three largest sub-projects would be.

  • Electrification of the Dudding Hill Line,  if it is to be done.
  • Resignalling of the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Necessary track replacement and updating.

In addition, there are around ten station projects.

There will also be a need for up to perhaps sixteen Class 710 trains. This could be around £90-100 million.

Other Possible Rail Services

It might be possible to connect the West Orbital Railway to other rail services and stations.

Changing At Old Oak Common

All stations on the West Orbital Railway will have at least a four tph connection to Old Oak Common, with Harlesden and Neasden having an eight tph connection.

 

Provided that the connection at Old Oak Common is well-designed, I think passengers will be happy to change here for the following services.

  • Six tph on Crossrail to Heathrow.
  • Twelve tph on Crossrail to Central London.
  • West Coast Main Line
  • HS2
  • Chiltern
  • North London Line
  • West London Line

I’ve left out the Bakerloo and Central Lines, as it will probably be quicker to take Crossrail and change.

Thameslink And The Midland Main Line

All stations on the West Orbital Railway will have at least a four tph connection to Thameslink, with Harlesden and Neasden having two separate four tph connections.

Depending on how the new East Midlands franchise arranges services, it might also be possible change onto some services to Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Hopefully, the interchange will be step-free. West Hampstead Thameslink already is step-free and I would assume Brent Cross Thameslink will be built that way!

A direct connection from Midland Main Line or Thameslink services to the West Orbital Railway may be possible, but the current track layout would appear to make it difficult.

Changing At Hounslow And Kew Bridge

The two Southern termini are on the Hounslow Loop Line, which gives valuable connections in South West London, including Clapham Junction.

Affect On Other Services

The West Orbital Railway affects other passenger services in two places.

The North London Line Through Acton Central And South Acton

Acton Central and South Acton stations on the North London Line are both served by a four tph service between Stratford and Richmond.

  • There are also other trains.
  • Both stations also have a level crossing.

So would it be possible to fit the eight tph of the West Orbital Railway through this section of the North London Line?

I suspect the answer is positive, otherwise the impossibility would have killed the proposal.

The Hounslow Loop Line Between Kew Bridge And Hounslow

This section of line has a four tph service in both directions, so it should be able to handle an extra four tph.

Collateral Benefits

There are some benefits to existing services.

Services Through Acton

The two Acton stations; Acton Central and South Acton, receive a big boost to services.

Currently, they have just four tph between Stratford and Richmond.

After Phase Two of the West Ortbital Railway is complete, these servicesc will be added.

  • Four tph between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow
  • Four tph between Hendon and Kew Bridge

All twelve tph will stop at Old Oak Common.

Major Developments Get New Or Improved Rail Connections

The following developments get new or improved rail connections.

  • Brent Cross Cricklewood
  • Old Oak Common
  • Brentford

How many housing and commercial developments will the passenger serviceencourage?

Conclusion

I believe that the West Orbital Railway is an elegant proposal.

  • No new track or electrification, just signalling and stations.
  • Four tph on two routes through areas of London that need much better public transport.
  • It links to the major rail hub at Old Oak Common for Crossrail and HS2.
  • It can be built without major disruption to existing services.
  • It can use the London Overground’s standard Class 710 trains.
  • It is very much a self-contained railway, that has little chance to affect existing services.

But above all, it is very much an affordable proposal, with a projected high return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Intelligent Multi-Mode Train And Affordable Electrification

Some would say we are at a crisis point in electrification, but I would prefer to call it a crossroads, where new techniques and clever automation will bring the benefits of electric traction to many more rail lines in the UK.

Lines That Need Electric Passenger Services

I could have said lines that need to be electrified, but that is probably a different question, as some lines like the Felixstowe Branch Line need to be electrified for freight purposes, but electric passenger services can be provided without full electrification.

Lines include.

  • Ashford to Hastings.
  • Borderlands Line.
  • Caldervale Line from Preston to Leeds
  • Camp Hill Line across Birmingham.
  • Huddersfield Line from Manchester to Leeds via Huddersfield.
  • Midland Main Line from Kettering to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • Uckfield Branch Line

There are many others, too numerous to mention.

What Is A Multi-Mode Train?

If a bi-mode train is both electric and diesel-powered, a multi-mode train will have at least three ways of moving.

The Intelligent Multi-Mode Train

The  intelligent multi-mode train in its simplest form would be an electric train with these characteristics.

  • Electric drive with regenerative braking.
  • Diesel or hydrogen power-pack.
  • Onboard energy storage to handle the energy generated by braking.
  • 25 KVAC and/or 750 VDC operation.
  • Automatic pantograph and third-rail shoe deployment.
  • Automatic power source selection.
  • The train would be designed for low energy use.
  • Driver assistance system, so the train was driven safely, economically and to the timetable.

Note the amount of automation to ease the workload for the driver and run the train efficiently.

Onboard Energy Storage

I am sure that both the current Hitachi and Bombardier trains have been designed around energy storage. Certainly, there are several quotes from Bombardier executives that say so.

The first application will be to handle regenerative braking, so that energy can be stored on the train, rather than returned to the electrification.

Onboard energy storage is also important in modern electric trains for other reasons.

  • Features like remote train wake-up can be enabled.
  • Moving the train short distances in case of power failure.
  • When Bombardier started developing the use of onboard energy storage, they stated that one reason was to reduce electrification in depots for reasons of safety.

Onboard energy storage will improve in several ways.

  • The energy density will get higher, meaning lighter and smaller storage.
  • The energy storage capacity will get higher, meaning greater range.
  • The cost of energy storage will become more affordable.
  • Energy storage will last longer before needing replacement.
  • CAF use a supercapacitor to get fast response and a  lithium-ion battery for good capacity.

We underestimate how energy storage will improve over the next few years at our peril.

Automatic Onboard Storage Management

The use of the energy storage will also be optimised for route, passenger load, performance and battery life by the trains automatic power source selection system.

Diesel Power Pack

A conventional diesel power pack to drive the train on lines without electrification.

As the train is electrically-driven, when running under diesel, regenerative braking can still be used, with the generated energy being stored onboard the train.

Hydrogen Power Pack

I believe that hydrogen could be used to generate the electricity required, as it is in some buses.

Operation Of The Multi-Mode Train

I’ve read somewhere that Greater Anglia intend to run their Class 755 trains using electricity, where electrification is available, even if it only for a short distance. This is enabled, by the ability of the train to be able to raise and lower the pantograph quickly and at line speed.

The train’s automatic power source selection will choose the most appropriate power source, from perhaps electrification, stored energy and diesel, based on route, load and the timetable.

Do Any Multi-Mode Trains Exist?

The nearest is probably the Class 800 train, which I believe uses onboard energy storage to handle regenerative braking, as I outlined in Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?.

This article in RailNews is entitled Greater Anglia unveils the future with Stadler mock-up and says this.

The bi-mode Class 755s will offer three or four passenger vehicles, but will also include a short ‘power pack’ car to generate electricity when the trains are not under the wires. This vehicle will include a central aisle so that the cars on either side are not isolated. Greater Anglia said there are no plans to include batteries as a secondary back-up.

So does that mean that Class 755 trains don’t use onboard energy storage to handle regenerative braking?

At the present time, there is no bi-mode Bombardier Aventra.

But in Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?, I link to an article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, which says that Bombardier are looking into a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

My technical brochure for the new Class 769 train, states that onboard energy storage is a possibility for that rebuild of a Class 319 train.

I don’t think it is a wild claim to say that within the next few years, a train will be launched that can run on electric, diesel and onboard stored power.

The Pause Of Electrification

Obviously, for many reasons, electrification of all railway lines is an ideal.

But there are problems.

  • Some object to electrification gantries marching across the countryside and through historic stations.
  • Network Rail seem to have a knack of delivering electrification late and over budget.
  • The cost of raising bridges and other structures can make electrification very bad value for money.

It is for these and other reasons, that the Government is having second thoughts about the direction of electrification.

Is There A Plan?

I ask this question deliberately, as nothing has been disclosed.

But I suspect that not for the first time, the rolling stock engineers and designers seem to be getting the permanent way and electrification engineers out of trouble.

As far as anybody knows, the plan seems to be to do no more electrification and use bi-mode trains that can run under both electrification and diesel-power to provide new and improved services.

Use Of Bi-Mode Trains

Taking a Liverpool to Newcastle service, this would use the electrification to Manchester, around Leeds and on the East Coast Main Line, with diesel power on the unelectrified sections.

If we take a modern bi-mode train like a Class 800 train, some features of the train will help on this route.

  • The pantograph can raise or lower as required at line speed.
  • It is probably efficient to use the pantograph for short sections of electrification.
  • Whether to use the pantograph is probably or certainly should be controlled automatically.

On this route the bi-mode will also be a great help on the fragile East Coast Main Line electrification.

Improving Bi-Mode Train Efficiency

Bi-mode trains may seem to be a solution.

However, as an electrical engineer, I believe that what we have at the moment is rather primitive compared to how the current crop of trains will develop.

Onboard Energy Storage

I said this earlier.

  • I am sure that both the current Hitachi and Bombardier trains have been designed to use energy storage.
  • CAF use a supercapacitor to get fast response and a  lithium-ion battery for good capacity.

This is an extract from the the Wikipedia entry for supercapacitor.

They typically store 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume or mass than electrolytic capacitors, can accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries.

Supercapacitors are used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long term compact energy storage: within cars, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, where they are used for regenerative braking.

Pairing them with a traditional lithium-ion battery seems to be good engineering.

The most common large lithium-ion batteries in public transport use are those in hybrid buses. In London, there are a thousand New Routemaster buses each with a 75 kWh battery.

In the past, there has have been problems with the batteries on New Routemasters and other hybrid buses, but things have improved and I suspect there is a mountain of knowledge both in the UK and worldwide on how to build a reliable, affordable and safe lithium-ion battery in the 75-100 kWh range.

As on the New Routemaster the battery is squeezed under the stairs, these batteries are not massive and I suspect one or more could easily be fitted underneath the average passenger train.

Look at this picture of a Class 321 train.

The space underneath is typical of many electrical multiple units.

How Far Could A Train Travel On Stored Energy?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch.

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

So if we take a battery from a New Routemaster bus, which is rated at 75 kWh, this would propel a five-car electric multiple unit between three and five miles.

Suppose though you put a battery of this size in every car of the train. This may seem expensive, but a typical car in a multiple unit and a double-deck bus carry about the same number of passengers.

A battery in each car would give advantages, especially in a Bombardier Aventra.

  • Most cars in an appear to be powered, so each traction motor would be close to a battery, which must reduce electrical transmission losses and ease regenerative braking.
  • Each car would have its own power supply, in case the main supply failed.
  • The weight of the batteries is spread along the train.

If you take any Aventra, with a 75 kWh battery in each car, using Ian’s figures, they would be able to run between fifteen and twenty-five miles on battery power alone.

Quotes by Bombardier executives of a fifty mile range don’t look so fanciful.

What Onboard Energy Storage Capacity Would Be Needed For Fifty Miles?

This article in Rail Engineer, which is entitled An Exciting New Aventra, quotes Jon Shaw of Bombardier on onboard energy storage.

As part of these discussions, another need was identified. Aventra will be an electric train, but how would it serve stations set off the electrified network? Would a diesel version be needed as well?

So plans were made for an Aventra that could run away from the wires, using batteries or other forms of energy storage. “We call it an independently powered EMU, but it’s effectively an EMU that you could put the pantograph down and it will run on the energy storage to a point say 50 miles away. There it can recharge by putting the pantograph back up briefly in a terminus before it comes back.

What onboard energy storage capacity would be needed for the quoted fifty miles?

I will use these parameters.

  • Ian Walmsley said a modern EMU consumes between 3 and 5 kWh for each vehicle mile.
  • All vehicles are powered and there is one battery per vehicle.

This will result in the following battery sizes for different EMU consumption rates.

  • 3 kWh/vehicle-mile – 150 kWh
  • 4 kWh/vehicle-mile – 200 kWh
  • 5 kWh/vehicle-mile – 250 kWh

These figures show that to get a smaller size of battery, you need a very energy-efficient train. At least lighting, air-conditioning and other electrical equipment is getting more efficient.

The 379 IPEMU Experiment On The Mayflower Line

In 2015, I rode the battery-powered Class 379 train on the 11.2 mile long Mayflower Line.

I was told by the engineer monitoring the train on a laptop, that they generally went to Harwich using the overhead electrification, charging the battery and then returned on battery power.

Ian Walmsley in his Modern Railways article says that the batteries on that train had a capacity of 500 kWh.

This works out at just over 11 kWh per vehicle per mile.

Considering this was an experiment conducted on a scheduled passenger service, it fits well with the conssumption quoted in Ian Walmsley’s article.

Crossrail’s Emergency Power

If you look at Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, they are nine cars, with a formation of

DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+MSO+PMSO+DMSO

All the Ms mean that eight cars are motored.

Suppose each of the motored cars have a battery of 75 kWh.

  • This means a total installed battery size of 600 kWh.
  • Suppose the nine-car train needs Ian’s Walmsley’s high value of 5 kWh per vehicle mile to proceed through Crossrail.
  • Thus 45 kWh will be needed to move the train for a mile.
  • Dividing this into the battery capacity gives the range of 13.3 miles.

If this were Crossrail’s emergency range on stored energy, it would be more than enough to move the train to the next station or place of safety in case of a complete power failure.

Trains Suitable For Onboard Energy Storage

I have a feeling that for any train to run efficiently with batteries, there needs to be a lot of powered axles and batteries distributed along the train.

Aventras certainly have a lot of powered axles and I think Hitachi trains are similar.

Perhaps this explains, why after the successful trial of battery technology on a Class 379 train, it has not been retrofitted to any other Electrostars.

There might not be enough powered axles!

Topping Up The Onboard Energy Storage

There are three main ways to top up the onboard energy storage.

  • From regenerative braking.
  • From the diesel or hydrogen powerpack.
  • From the electrification, where it is available.

The latter is probably the most efficient and is ideal, where a route is partly electrified.

Affordable Electrification

Although the Government has said that there will be no more electrification, I think there will be selective affordable electrification to improve the efficiency of multi-mode trains.

Why Is Electrification Often Late And Over Budget?

The reasons I have found or been told are varied.

  • Electrification seems regularly to hit unexpected infrastructure like sewers and cables on older routes.
  • There have been examples of poor engineering.
  • There is a large amount of Victorian infrastructure like bridges and stations that need to be rebuilt.
  • There is a certain amount of opposition from the Heritage lobby.
  • Connecting the electrification to the National Grid can be a large cost.

My experience in Project Management, also leads me to believe that although Network Rail seems to plan large station and track projects well, they tend to get in rather a mess with large electrification projects.

Electrification Of New Track

It may only be a personal feeling, but where new track has been laid and it is electrified Network Rail don’t seem to have the same level of problems.

These projects are generally smaller, but also I suspect the track-bed has been well-surveyed and well-built, to give a good foundation for the electrification.

It was interesting to note a few weeks ago at Blackpool, where they are electrifying the line, that Network Rail appeared to be relaying all of the track as well.

I know they were also re-signalling the area, but have Network Rail decided that the best way to electrify the line was a complete rebuild?

Short Lengths Of New Electrification

Short lengths of new electrification could make all the difference on routes using multi-mode trains with onboard energy storage.

As a simple example, I’ll take the Felixstowe Branch Line, that I know well. Ipswwich to Felixstowe is about sixteen miles, which is probably too far for a train running on onboard energy storage. But there are places, where short lengths of electrification would be beneficial to both the Class 755 trains and trains with onboard energy storage.

  • Ipswich to Westerfield
  • On the section of double-track to be built in 2019.
  • Felixstowe station

There is also the large number of diesel-hauled freight trains passing through the area, quite a few of which change to and from electric haulage at Ipswich.

So would some selective short lengths of electrification enable the route to be run by trains using onboard energy storage?

Electrification Of Tunnels

Over the last few years, there has been some very successful electrification of tunnels like the seven kilometre long Severn Tunnel. This is said about the problems of electrification in Wikipedia.

As part of the 21st-century modernisation of the Great Western Main Line, the tunnel was prepared for electrification. It has good clearances and was relatively easy to electrify, although due to its age, the seepage of water from above in some areas provided an engineering challenge. The options of using either normal tunnel electrification equipment or a covered solid beam technology were considered and the decision was made to use a solid beam. Over the length of the tunnel, an aluminium conductor rail holds the copper cable, which is not under tension. A six-week closure of the tunnel started on 12 September 2016. During that time, alternative means of travel were either a longer train journey via Gloucester, or a bus service between Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway stations. Also during that time, and possibly later, there were direct flights between Cardiff and London City Airport. The tunnel was reopened on 22 October 2016.

It appears to have been a challenging but successful project.

This type of solid beam electrification has been used successfully by Crossrail and Chris Gibb has suggested using overhead beam to electrify the three tunnels on the Uckfield Branch Line.

In the North of England, there are quite a few long tunnels.

Could these become islands of electrification to both speed the trains and charge the onbosrd energy storage?

Third-Rail Electrification Of Stations

Ian Walmsley in his Modern Railways article proposes using third rail electrification at Uckfield station to charge the onboard energy storage of the trains. He also says this.

This would need only one substation and the third rail could energise only when there is a train on it, like a Bordeaux tram, hence minimal safety risk.

There needs to be some serious thought about how you create a safe, affordable installation for a station.

I also feel there is no need to limit the use of short lengths of third-rail electrification to terminal stations. On the Uckfield Branch, some stations are very rural, but others are in centres of population and/or industry, where electricity to power a short length of third-rail might be available.

Overhead Beams In Stations

This picture shows the Seville trams, which use an overhead beam at stops to charge their onboard energy storage.

Surely devices like these can be used in selective stations, like Hull, Scarborough and Uckfield.

Third-Rail Electrification On Bridges And Viaducts

Some bridges and high rail viaducts like the Chappel Viaduct on the Gainsborough Line, present unique electrification problems.

  • It is Grade II Listed.
  • Would overhead electrification gantries be welcomed by the heritage lobby?
  • It is 23 metres high.
  • Would this height present severe Health and Safety problems for work on the line?
  • The viaduct is 320 metres long.

Could structures like this be electrified using third-rail methods?

  • The technology is proven.
  • As in stations, it could only be switched on when needed.
  • The electrification would not be generally visible.

The only minor disadvantage is that dual-voltage trains would be needed. But most trains destined for the UK market are designed to work on both systems.

Getting Power To Short Lengths Of Electrification

One thing that is probably needed is innovation in powering these short sections of electrification.

Conclusion

There are a very large number of techniques that can enable a multi-mode train to roam freely over large parts of the UK.

It is also a team effort, with every design element of the train, track, signalling and stations contributing to an efficient low-energy train, that is not too heavy.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Hammond To Announce ‘More Money’ For Northern Powerhouse Rail

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

This is said.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is to announce an extra £300m to improve rail links in northern England, in a speech to the Conservative Party conference.

Plans to electrify the whole Trans-Pennine route have been in doubt.

But the new money will be used to ensure HS2 will link to faster trains between Liverpool and Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and York – so-called Northern Powerhouse rail.

What would I do with £300 million to improve the rail lines in the North?

To Electrify Or Not!

If we don’t electrify a few routes it will make things difficult.

As an example, you might want to create an HS2 route from London to Middlesbrough, using the Northallerton to Middlesbrough Line.

HS2 trains would probably travel from the HS2 terminus at Leeds along the East Coast Main Line to Northallerton.

If the last few miles were not electrified, then the train would need to be a bi-mode.

However, the dead weight of a diesel engine might reduce the performance sufficiently, so the train couldn’t run at full speed on HS2.

So the HS2 trains would probably need electrified track at all time!

I don’t think that all the destinations that might need an HS2 service are on all-electric route from HS2.

How about these stations?

  • Barrow
  • Blackburn
  • Burnley
  • Edinburgh
  • Huddersfield
  • Lincoln
  • Middlesbrough
  • Newcastle
  • Sheffield
  • York

Note that Carlisle and Glasgow are not on my list, but four important stations , that are served by the East Coast Main Line, cannot be reached by an electric train from HS2, because of gaps in the electrification.

Splitting And Joining

I am assuming that trains can join and split like the Class 395 trains to Kent.

As a simple example two five-car trains might start from London as a ten-car train and split at Crewe or Nottingham, with perhaps each train going to different destinations.

Going southward, two trains would join for the dash to London.

Cross-And Same-Platform Interchanges

By clever station design, it might be possible for interchanges at places like Crewe, Nottingham, Preston and York to be a simple procedure, where passengers get off one train and get on the connecting service either immediately or after a few minutes, without negotiating any steps, escalatord or lifts.

Electrification

Possible routes to electrify would be as follows.

Batley To Selby Via East Leeds Parkway, Leeds and White Rose Centre

Leeds are keen to build two new stations; East Leeds Parkway and White Rose Centre. The line could be electrified between these two stations to form a new electrified CrossLeeds service perhaps between Batley in the West and Selby in the East.

There is the 4km. long tunnel at Morley and this could be easy to electrify, by using an overhead rail, as was used in the Severn Tunnel.

Leeds to York

This would give the following advantages.

  • It would complete a fully electric route from Leeds to York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  • A time saving of upwards of upwards of five minutes between Leeds and York.
  • Direct connection for HS2 to the East Coast Main Line.
  • It would allow electric trains to be moved between York and Neville Hill depot in Leeds.

It would also be a fairly simple piece of electrification.

Northallerton To Middlesbrough

This line is only twenty miles long and it would allow electric trains and HS2 to go to Middlesbrough.

Preston To Burnley via Blackburn

I’m very keen on this electrification.

  • It would give a lift to the area.
  • Electric and bi-mode trains could run between Blackpool, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Burnley, Colne, Liverpool and Manchester.

HS2 trains would be able to reach Blackburn and/or Burnley.

Tunnels

There are several long tunnels in the Pennines. I believe that these should be electrified, as Network Rail seem to be able to handle tunnels.

Bi-mode trains would run through using the electrification.

Improved Lines

These lines could be improved and might even be electrified.

Camp Hill Line

This would create a second line across Birmingham. Extra chords at Bordesley, a couple of stations and electrification would make it a quality improvement.

Carnforth To Barrow

Barrow and the nearby Sellafield need a lift and perhaps, if the line were to be improved bi-mode trains could reach Barrow from Crewe, where there will be an easy interchange with HS2.

Electrifying the line might be possible, but the Heritage lobby won’t want the Lake District spoiled.

Derby To Nottingham Via East Midlands Hub

When HS2 gets to the East Midlands Hub station between Nottingham and Derby, it will need good connections to both cities.

This could be heavy rail or an extended Nttingham Express Transit.

Liverpool To Manchester Via Chat Moss

The electrified route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria stations has a very low operating speed.

Sort it!

New And Reopened Lines

There are a couple of lines thsat could be built or reopened.

MerseyRail’s Northern Line to Skelmersdale

I like this idea and it could be an improvement with a high return.

Skipton And Colne

This missing link should be created, so that there is another route across the Pennines.

As Skipton is electrified, why not electrify the link and the existing Colne to Rose Grove line, which would be on the Preston to Burnley route that I think should be electrified.

 

 

 

Conclusion

I’ve probably spent £300 million now!

But I do think, if Network Rail are innovative, things can be made a lot better.

 

 

October 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Is Existing UK Electrification Up To Scratch?

I ask this question after a very delayed rail journey from Leeds to London after the football yesterday.

I left Leeds on the 19:15 and all went well until between Grantham and Peterborough the train ground to a halt.

The driver informed us, that the previous train had had a pantograph failure and had brought the overhead wires down.

So we were stuck.

Free water was offered and I took a carrier bag to the buffet and looted half-a-dozen bottles for myself and a few fellow travellers.

But we waited and waited as the the train awaited a tow from a diesel locomotive.

Eventually, one arrived and it towed us to Peterborough, where the train started on its own power to London on the unaffected electrification.

We finally arrived at 02:10 at Kings Cross or four and a half hours behind schedule.

Virgin were rounding up taxis for everyone at Kings |Cross. But the length of queue was such, I came home using that lady of the night;Victoria and a 277 bus.

But consider other facts from last night.

  • At least four Southbound trains were delayed upwards of four hours.
  • Some Northbound trains, got no further than Peterborough.
  • Virgin probably had to make arrangements for large number of disgruntled passengers.
  • Taxis appeared to be in short supply.
  • The train ran out of snacks.

I also think from comments from friends, that problems with the overhead wires are not uncommon.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled MPs Debate Reliability Of ECML Wiring. This is a paragraph.

Maskell had asked: “We already know that there is six times higher spend in the South than in the North on rail and transport infrastructure, but we also seem to have an east-west divide in rail – the East Coast route has received £3 billion less than that of the West. Will the Government bring forward their funding to upgrade the East Coast Main Line infrastructure, since the passenger performance measure is now at 25.1% because of overhead line failure?”

Rachel Maskell is MP for York Central.

It would appear that the electrification needs to be made more robust and improved in reliability.

East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade

This page on the VolkerRail web site describes a project called East Coast the Main Line Power Supply Upgrade, which has the following project scope.

The Rail Electrification Alliance (REAL) is responsible for the delivery of Network Rail’s East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade Project. The alliance, comprising of Network Rail, VolkerRail, Siemens, J Murphy and Sons, Jacobs and TSP, will construct new substations, install over 600km of new cabling and renew overhead line equipment (OLE) and structures over 246km of the ECML, from Wood Green in London to Bawtry near Doncaster.

The new power supply upgrade (PSU) is in direct support of the InterCity Express Programme, providing an enhanced traction power supply to enable the introduction of the new faster, more environmentally friendly Class 800 and 801 trains at the end of 2018, providing an improved service for passengers. The improvements will also reduce the amount of maintenance required for OLE.

Hopefully, this will reduce the likelihood of incidents like yesterday’s!

How Will The Class 800 and Class 801 Trains Deal With Line Problems?

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I looked at the electrical systems of how Class 800 and Class 801 trains and how they would cope with various problems, based on  this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

I found the following.

All Class 801 Trains Have At Least One Generator Unit

All Class 801 trains have at least one generator unit, so it can obviously provide hotel power and probably enough power to limp to the next station, in case of overhead line failure.

So if yesterday’s problem hit and the line was not physically blocked the electric Class 801 train could move to the next station or perhaps cross to an unaffected line.

The Class 800 train would just continue on its onbopard diesel power.

Locomotive Haulage Is Possible

So a rescue similar to yesteday’s is possible.

Automatic Coupling And Uncoupling

This is definitely in line with Class 395 train performance.

Automatic Train Identification Function

This is said in the Hitachi document.

To simplify the rearrangement and management of train configurations, functions are provided for identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically determining the cars in the trainset and its total length, and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in
normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

I suspect most modern trains can do this.

One Twelve-Car Train Can Rescue Another

That would have been very useful yesterday.

Conclusion

The design of the new Class 800 and Class 801 trains will probably help in the coping with some of the problems on the East Coast Main Line and any other routes on which they operate.

I suspect there is already a lot of provision of crossovers for trains to cross between slow and fast lines and also to allow trains to run bi-directionally to get around various problems.

 

 

September 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment