The Anonymous Widower

Will Zero-Carbon Freight Trains Be Powered By Battery, Electric Or Hydrogen Locomotives?

These are a few initial thoughts.

We Will Not Have A One-Size-Fits-All Solution

If you consider the various freight and other duties, where diesel locomotives are used, you get a long list.

  • Light freight, where perhaps a Class 66 locomotive moves a few wagons full of stone to support track maintenance.
  • Intermodal freight, where a Class 66 locomotive moves a long train of containers across the country.
  • Stone trains, where a Class 59 or Class 70 locomotive moves a very heavy train of aggregate across the country.
  • Empty stock movements, where a diesel locomotive moves an electrical multiple unit.
  • Supporting Network Rail with trains like the New Measurement Train, which is hauled by two diesel Class 43 power cars.
  • Passenger trains at up to and over 100 mph.

I can see a need for several types of zero-carbon locomotive.

  • A light freight locomotive.
  • A medium freight locomotive, that is capable of hauling many intermodal trains across the country and would also be capable of hauling passenger services.
  • A heavy freight locomotive, capable of hauling the heaviest freight trains.
  • A Class 43 power car replacement, which would probably be a conversion of the existing power cars. Everybody loves InterCity 125s and there are over a hundred power cars in regular service on railways in the UK.

There are probably others.

The UK Hydrogen Network Is Growing

Regularly, there are news items about companies in the UK, who will be providing green hydrogen to fuel cars, vans, buses, trucks and trains.

Hydrogen is becoming a fuel with a much high availability.

The UK Electricity Network Is Growing And Getting More Resilient

We are seeing more wind and solar farms and energy storage being added to the UK electricity network.

The ability to support large numbers of battery-electric buses, cars, trucks and trains in a reliable manner, is getting more resilient and much more comprehensive.

There Will Be More Railway Electrification

This will happen and installation will be more innovative. But predicting where electrification will be installed, will be very difficult.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Now Have Rivals

Hydrogen fuel cells are normally used to convert hydrogen gas to electricity.

But over the last few years, alternative technology has evolved, which may offer better methods of generating electricity from hydrogen.

Fuel cells will not be having it all their own way.

Batteries Are Improving Their Energy Density

This is inevitable. and you are starting to see improvements in the fabrication of the battery packs to get more kWh into the space available.

In Wrightbus Presents Their First Battery-Electric Bus, I said this about the Forsee batteries used in the new buses from Wrightbus.

The Forsee brochure for the ZEN SLIM batteries gives an energy density of 166 Wh per Kg. This means that the weight of the 454 kWh battery is around 3.7 tonnes.

A one-tonne battery would have a capacity of 166 kWh.

  • It is the highest value I’ve so far found.
  • Technology is likely to improve.
  • Other battery manufacturers will be striving to match it.

For these reasons, in the rest of this post, I will use this figure.

Some Example Locomotives

In this section, I shall look at some possible locomotives.

Conversion Of A Class 43 Power Car

There are two Class 43 power cars in each InterCity 125 train.

  • The diesel engine is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The transmission is fully electric.
  • These days, they generally don’t haul more than five or six intermediate Mark 3 coaches.

I would see that the biggest problem in converting to battery power being providing the means to charge the batteries.

I suspect that these power cars would be converted to hydrogen, if they are converted to zero-carbon.

  • I would estimate that there is space for hydrogen tanks and a small gas-turbine generator in the back of the power car.
  • Much of the existing transmission could be retained.
  • A zero-carbon power car would certainly fit their main use in Scotland and the South-West of England.
  • I doubt hydrogen refuelling would be a problem.

They may even attract other operators to use the locomotives.

A Battery-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

I am using this Class 88 locomotive as a starting point, as the locomotive is powerful, reliable and was built specifically for UK railways. There are also ten already in service in the UK.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I started the article like this.

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Johnson Targets A Bi-Mode Future.

As someone, who has examined the mathematics of battery-powered trains for several years, I wonder if the Age of the Hybrid Battery/Electric Locomotive is closer than we think.

A Battery/Electric Class 88 Locomotive

 After reading Dual Mode Delight (RM Issue 863), it would appear that a Class 88 locomotive is a powerful and reliable locomotive.

    • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle load of 21.5 tonnes.
    • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
    • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
    • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
    • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

The locomotive would appear to be carrying between 7 and 12 tonnes of diesel-related gubbins.

Suppose  that the diesel-related gubbins of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced with a ten tonne battery.

Using the Forsee figures, that I quoted earlier, this battery would hold 1660 kWh.

At the power level of the 700 kW of the Caterpillar C27 diesel engine in the Class 88 locomotive, that would give more than two hours power.

It looks to me, that a battery-electric Class 88 locomotive could be a very useful locomotive.

It might even be able to haul freight trains in and out of the Port of Felixstowe, which would be a big advantage in decarbonising the port.

Certainly, methods to charge battery trains on the move, are being developed like the system from Hitachi ABB Power Grids, that put up short sections of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, which would be driven by a containerised power system.

These systems and others like them, may enable some battery-electric freight trains to work routes like.

  • Felixstowe and Ipswich.
  • Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Peterborough and Nuneaton.
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln
  • Birmingham and Oxford

None of these routes are fully-electrified.

But because of the power limit imposed by the batteries, these locomotives will need to be recharged at points on the route.

This Google Map shows the Ipswich and Peterborough route crossing the Fen Line at Ely station.

Note.

  1. Ely Dock junction in the South-West corner, where the line from Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds joins the lines through Ely.
  2. Ely station towards the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Passenger trains run through the station.

But freight trains can take a route on the Eastern side of the station, which is not electrified.

At Ely station, a loop like this can be electrified using the existing electrification power supply, but at other places, systems like that from Hitachi ABB Power Grids can be used to electrify the loop or an appropriate section of the route.

These short sections of electrification will allow the train to progress on either electric or battery power.

A Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I looked at creating a hydrogen-powered locomotive from a Class 68 locomotive.

I decided it was totally feasible to use readily available technology from companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins to create a powerful hydrogen-powered locomotive.

The Class 68 locomotive is the diesel-only cousin of the electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive and they share a lot of components including the body-shell, the bogies and the traction system.

I suspect Stadler could create a Class 88 locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 4 MW using electric power
  • At least 2.5 MW using hydrogen power.
  • Hydrogen power could come from Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator based on a small gas-turbine engine.
  • 100 mph on both electricity and hydrogen.
  • It would have power output on hydrogen roughly equal to a Class 66 locomotive on diesel.
  • It would have a range comparable to a Class 68 locomotive on diesel.

This locomotive would be a zero-carbon Class 66 locomotive replacement for all duties.

A Larger And More Powerful Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive

I feel that for the largest intermodal and stone trains, that a larger hydrogen-electric locomotive will be needed.

Conclusion

In the title of this post, I asked if freight locomotives of the future would be battery, electric or hydrogen.

I am sure of one thing, which is that all freight locomotives must be able to use electrification and if possible, that means both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail. Electrification will only increase in the future, making it necessary for most if not all locomotives in the future to be able to use it.

I feel there will be both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric locomotives, with the battery-electric locomotives towards the less-powerful end.

Hydrogen-electric will certainly dominate at the heavy end.

 

 

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

East-West Rail ‘Must Use Electric Trains’ – Layla Moran MP

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

It is of “paramount importance” that a £5bn direct rail line between Oxford and Cambridge uses electric trains, an MP has said.

The East West Rail project aims to connect the university cities by the end of the decade, but its electrification is yet to be confirmed.

MP Layla Moran said: “We’re in a climate emergency. No rail line should be designed for diesel by default.”

All trains need to be electric, but that doesn’t mean the lines need to be fully-electrified.

And if you design a railway for 100 mph diesel trains, you’ve also designed it for 100 mph electric trains.

In Solving The Electrification Conundrum, I explained how Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids, have developed a practical solution to running battery-electric trains on railways without full electrification.

Their system would be ideal for the East-West Rail Link and fulfil Ms. Moran’s wish of electric trains.

There just wouldn’t be large numbers of electrification gantries marching all over the countryside.

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 6 Comments

ORR’s Policy On Third Rail DC Electrification Systems

The title of this post is the same as that of a document I downloaded from this page on the Office of Rail and Road web site.

It is one of the most boring legal documents, that I have ever read and I have read a few in my time.

As I read it, effectively it says that new third-rail electrification is banned because of Health and Safety issues, which take precedence.

But only once in the document is new technology mentioned, that might make third-rail safer and that is a reference to the Docklands Light Railway, where the third rail is shielded.

I am an Electrical Engineer and I was designing safety systems for heavy industrial guillotines at fifteen as a vacation job in a non-ferrous metals factory.

One design of an ideal electric railway would have battery-electric trains, that were charged in stations by third-rail. The third-rail would only be energised, when a train was over the top and needed to be charged. In effect the train would act as an all-enclosing guard to the conductor rail.

Electrification Of The West Of England Main Line

The West of England Main Line runs between Basingstoke and Exeter via Salisbury. It is one of the longest, if not the longest main lines in England, that is not electrified.

It would probably need to be electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification, as that standard is used between London Waterloo and Basingstoke.

In Solving The Electrification Conundrum, I described a system being developed by Hitachi, that would use battery-electric trains that were charged by short sections of electrified line every fifty miles or so. For reasons of ease of installation and overall costs, these short sections of electrification could be third-rail, that was electrically dead unless a train was connected and needed charging. These electrified sections could also be in stations, where entry on to the railway is a bit more restricted.

Conclusion

The Office of Rail and Road needs to employ a few more engineers with good technical brains, rather than ultra-conservative risk-averse lawyers.

As a sad footnote, I live in East London, where trespassers are regularly electrocuted on the railway. But usually, it is when idiots are travelling on top of container trains  and inadvertently come into contact with the overhead electrification.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

The title of this post, is the same as an article in the July 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory sub-heading.

Regional and rural railways poses a huge problem for the railway to decarbonise.

Lorna McDonald of Hitachi Rail and Jay Mehta of Hitachi ABB Power Grids tell Andy Roden why they believe they have the answer.

These are my thoughts on what is said.

Battery-Electric Trains

The article starts by giving a review of battery-electric trains and their use on routes of moderate but important length.

  • Some short routes can be handled with just a charge on an electrified main line.
  • Some will need a recharge at the termini.
  • Other routes might need a recharge at some intermediate stations, with a possible increase in dwell times.

It was in February 2015, that I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after a ride in public service on Bombardier’s test battery-electric train based on a Class 379 train.

I also wrote this in the related post.

Returning from Harwich, I travelled with the train’s on-board test engineer, who was monitoring the train performance in battery mode on a laptop. He told me that acceleration in this mode was the same as a standard train, that the range was up to sixty miles and that only minimal instruction was needed to convert a driver familiar to the Class 379 to this battery variant.

It was an impressive demonstration, of how a full-size train could be run in normal service without connection to a power supply. I also suspect that the partners in the project must be very confident about the train and its technology to allow paying passengers to travel on their only test train.

A couple of years later, I met a lady on another train, who’d used the test train virtually every day during the trial and she and her fellow travellers felt that it was as good if not better than the normal service from a Class 360 train or a Class 321 train.

So why if the engineering, customer acceptance and reliability were proven six years ago, do we not have several battery electric trains in service?

  • There is a proven need for battery-electric trains on the Marshlink Line and the Uckfield Branch in Sussex.
  • The current Class 171 trains are needed elsewhere, so why are no plans in place for replacement trains?
  • The government is pushing electric cars and buses, but why is there such little political support for battery-electric trains?

It’s almost as if, an important civil servant in the decision process has the naive belief that battery-electric trains won’t work and if they do, they will be phenomenally expensive. So the answer is an inevitable no!

Only in the South Wales Metro, are battery-electric trains considered to be part of the solution to create a more efficient and affordable electric railway.

But as I have constantly pointed out since February 2015 in this blog, battery-electric trains should be one of the innovations we use to build a better railway.

Hydrogen Powered Trains

The article says this about hydrogen powered trains.

Hybrid hydrogen fuel cells can potentially solve the range problem, but at the cost of the fuel eating up internal capacity that would ideally be used for passengers. (and as Industry and Technology Editor Roger Ford points out, at present hydrogen is a rather dirty fuel). By contrast, there is no loss of seating or capacity in a Hitachi battery train.

I suspect the article is referring to the Alstom train, which is based on the technology of the Alstom Coradia iLint.

I have ridden this train.

  • It works reliably.
  • It runs on a 100 km route.
  • The route is partially electrified, but the train doesn’t have a pantograph.
  • It has a very noisy mechanical transmission.

Having spoken to passengers at length, no-one seemed bothered by the Hindenburg possibilities.

It is certainly doing some things right, as nearly fifty trains have been ordered for train operating companies in Germany.

Alstom’s train for the UK is the Class 600 train, which will be converted from a four-car Class 321 train.

Note.

  1. Half of both driver cars is taken up by a hydrogen tank.
  2. Trains will be three-cars.
  3. Trains will be able to carry as many passengers as a two-car Class 156 train.

It is an inefficient design that can be improved upon.

Porterbrook and Birmingham University appear to have done that with their Class 799 train.

  • It can use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and other hydrogen gubbins are under the floor.

This picture from Network Rail shows how the train will appear at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Now that’s what I call a train! Let alone a hydrogen train!

Without doubt, Porterbrook and their academic friends in Birmingham will be laying down a strong marker for hydrogen at COP26!

I know my hydrogen, as my first job on leaving Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968 was for ICI at Runcorn, where I worked in a plant that electrolysed brine into hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and chlorine.

My life went full circle last week, when I rode this hydrogen powered bus in London.

The hydrogen is currently supplied from the same chemical works in Runcorn, where I worked. But plans have been made at Runcorn, to produce the hydrogen from renewable energy, which would make the hydrogen as green hydrogen of the highest standard. So sorry Roger, but totally carbon-free hydrogen is available.

The bus is a Wightbus Hydroliner FCEV and this page on the Wrightbus web site gives the specification. The specification also gives a series of cutaway drawings, which show how they fit 86 passengers, all the hydrogen gubbins and a driver into a standard size double-deck bus.

I believe that Alstom’s current proposal is not a viable design, but I wouldn’t say that about the Porterbrook/Birmingham University design.

Any Alternative To Full Electrification Must Meet Operator And Customer Expectations

This is a paragraph from the article.

It’s essential that an alternative traction solution offers the same levels of performance and frequency, while providing an increase in capacity and being economically viable.

In performance, I would include reliability. As the on-board engineer indicated on the Bombardier  test train on the Harwich branch, overhead electrification is not totally reliable, when there are winds and/or criminals about.

Easy Wins

Hitachi’s five-car Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains each have three diesel engines and run the following short routes.

  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough- 21 miles not electrified – Changeover in Northallerton station
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.6 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newark Northgate station
  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newbury station
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Didcot Parkway station

Some of these routes could surely be run with a train, where one diesel engine was replaced by a battery-pack.

As I’m someone, who was designing, building and testing plug-compatible transistorised electronics in the 1960s to replace  older valve-based equipment in a heavy engineering factory, I suspect that creating a plug-compatible battery-pack that does what a diesel engine does in terms of power and performance is not impossible.

What would be the reaction to passengers, once they had been told, they had run all the way to or from London without using any diesel?

Hopefully, they’d come again and tell their friends, which is what a train operator wants and needs.

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

This section is from the article.

Where electrification isn’t likely to be a viable proposition, this presents a real conundrum to train operators and rolling stock leasing companies.

This is why Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids are joining together to present a combined battery train and charging solution to solve this conundrum. In 2020, Hitachi and ABB’s Power Grids business, came together in a joint venture, and an early outcome of this is confidence that bringing together their expertise in rail, power and grid management, they can work together to make electrification simpler cheaper and quicker.

I agree strongly with the second paragraph, as several times, I’ve been the mathematician and simulation expert in a large multi-disciplinary engineering project, that went on to be very successful.

The Heart Of The Proposition

This is a paragraph from the article.

The proposition is conceptually simple. Rather than have extended dwell times at stations for battery-powered trains, why not have a short stretch of 25 KVAC overhead catenary (the exact length will depend on the types of train and the route) which can charge trains at linespeed on the move via a conventional pantograph?

The article also mentions ABB’s related expertise.

  • Charging buses all over Europe.
  • Creating the power grid for the Great Western Electrification to Cardiff.

I like the concept, but then it’s very similar to what I wrote in The Concept Of Electrification Islands in April 2020.

But as they are electrical power engineers and I’m not, they’d know how to create the system.

Collaboration With Hyperdrive Innovation

The article has nothing negative to say about the the collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to produce the battery-packs.

Route Modelling

Hitachi appear to have developed a sophisticated route modelling system, so that routes and charging positions can be planned.

I would be very surprised if they hadn’t developed such a system.

Modular And Scalable

This is a paragraph from the article.

In the heart of the system is a containerised modular solution containing everything needed to power a stretch of overhead catenary to charge trains. A three-car battery train might need one of these, but the great advantage is that it is scalable to capacity and speed requirements.

This all sounds very sensible and can surely cope with a variety of lines and traffic levels.

It also has the great advantage , that if a line is eventually electrified, the equipment can be moved on to another line.

Financing Trains And Chargers

The article talks about the flexibility of the system from an operator’s point of view with respect to finance.

I’ve had some good mentors in the area of finance and I know innovative finance contributed to the success of Metier Management Systems, the project management company I started with three others in 1977.

After selling Metier, I formed an innovative finance company, which would certainly have liked the proposition put forward in the article.

No Compromise, Little Risk

I would agree with this heading of the penultimate section of the article.

In February 2015, when I rode that Class 379 train between Manningtree and Harwich, no compromise had been made by Bombardier and it charged in the electrified bay platform at Manningtree.

But why was that train not put through an extensive route-proving exercise in the UK after the successful trial at Manningtree?

  • Was it the financial state of Bombardier?
  • Was it a lack of belief on the part of politicians, who were too preoccupied with Brexit?
  • Was it that an unnamed civil servant didn’t like the concept and stopped the project?

Whatever the reason, we have wasted several years in getting electric trains accepted on UK railways.

If no compromise needs to be made to create a battery-electric train, that is equivalent to the best-in-class diesel or electric multiple units, then what about the risk?

The beauty of Hitachi’s battery-electric train project is that it can be done in phases designed to minimise risk.

Phase 1 – Initial Battery Testing 

Obviously, there will be a lot of bench testing in a laboratory.

But I also believe that if the Class 803 trains are fitted with a similar battery from Hyperdrive Innovation, then this small fleet of five trains can be used to test a lot of the functionality of the batteries initially in a test environment and later in a real service environment.

The picture shows a Class 803 train under test through Oakleigh Park station.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Phase 2 – Battery Traction Testing And Route Proving

I am a devious bastard, when it comes to software development. The next set of features would always be available for me to test earlier, than anybody else knew.

I doubt that the engineers at Hyperdrive Innovation will be any different.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the batteries in the Class 803 trains can also be used for traction, if you have the right authority.

We might even see Class 803 trains turning up in some unusual places to test the traction abilities of the batteries.

As East Coast Trains, Great Western Railway and Hull Trains are all First Group companies, I can’t see any problems.

I’m also sure that Hitachi could convert some Class 800 or Class 802 trains and add these to the test fleet, if East Coast Trains need their Class 803 trains to start service.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Possibly, the worse thing, that could happen would be a battery failure, which would need the train to be rescued.

Phase 3 – Service Testing On Short Routes

As I indicated earlier, there are some easy routes between London and places like Bedwyn, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Oxford, that should be possible with a Class 800 or Class 802 train fitted with the appropriate number of batteries.

Once the trains have shown, the required level of performance and reliability, I can see converted Class 800, 801 and Class 802 trains entering services on these and other routes.

Another low risk phase, although passengers are involved, but they are probably subject to the same risks, as on an unmodified train.

Various combinations of diesel generators and batteries could be used to find out, what is the optimum combination for the typical diagrams that train operators use.

Hitachi didn’t commit to any dates, but I can see battery-electric trains running on the Great Western Railway earlier than anybody thinks.

Phase 4 – Service Testing On Medium Routes With A Terminal Charger System

It is my view that the ideal test route for battery-electric trains with a terminal charger system would be the Hull Trains service between London Kings Cross and Hull and Beverley.

The route is effectively in three sections.

  • London Kings Cross and Temple Hirst junction – 169.2 miles – Full Electrification
  • Temple Hirst junction and Hull station – 36.1 miles – No Electrification
  • Hull station and Beverley station – 8.3 miles – No Electrification

Two things would be needed to run zero-carbon electric trains on this route.

  • Sufficient battery capacity in Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains to reliably handle the 36.1 miles between Temple Hirst junction and Hull station.
  • A charging system in Hull station.

As Hull station also handles other Class 800 and Class 802 trains, there will probably be a need to put a charging system in more than one platform.

Note.

  1. Hull station has plenty of space.
  2. No other infrastructure work would be needed.
  3. There is a large bus interchange next door, so I suspect the power supply to Hull station is good.

Hull would be a very good first destination for a battery-electric InterCity train.

Others would include Bristol, Cheltenham, Chester, Scarborough, Sunderland and Swansea.

The risk would be very low, if the trains still had some diesel generator capacity.

Phase 5 – Service Testing On Long Routes With Multiple Charger Systems

Once the performance and reliability of the charger systems have been proven in single installations like perhaps Hull and Swansea stations, longer routes can be prepared for electric trains.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The press release talks about Penzance and London, so would that be a suitable route for discontinuous electrification using multiple chargers?

These are the distances between major points on the route between Penzance and London Paddington.

  • Penzance and Truro – 35.8 miles
  • Truro and Bodmin Parkway – 26.8 miles
  • Bodmin Parkway and Plymouth – 26.9 miles
  • Plymouth and Newton Abbot – 31,9 miles
  • Newton Abbot and Exeter – 20.2 miles
  • Exeter and Taunton – 30.8 miles
  • Taunton and Westbury – 47.2 miles
  • Westbury and Newbury – 42.5 miles
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles

Note.

  1. Only Newbury and Paddington is electrified.
  2. Trains generally stop at Plymouth, Newton Abbott, Exeter and Taunton.
  3. Services between Paddington and Exeter, Okehampton, Paignton, Penzance, Plymouth and Torquay wouldn’t use diesel.
  4. Okehampton would be served by a reverse at Exeter.
  5. As Paignton is just 8.1 miles from Newton Abbot, it probably wouldn’t need a charger.
  6. Bodmin is another possible destination, as Great Western Railway have helped to finance a new platform at Bodmin General station.

It would certainly be good marketing to run zero-carbon electric trains to Devon and Cornwall.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

In this brief analysis, it does look that Hitachi’s proposed system is of a lower risk.

A Few Questions

I do have a few questions.

Are The Class 803 Trains Fitted With Hyperdrive Innovation Batteries?

East Coast Trains‘s new Class 803 trains are undergoing testing between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh and they can be picked up on Real Time Trains.

Wikipedia says this about the traction system for the trains.

While sharing a bodyshell with the previous UK A-train variants, the Class 803 differs in that it has no diesel engines fitted. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies have failed.

Will these emergency batteries be made by Hyperdrive Innovation?

My experience of similar systems in other industries, points me to the conclusion, that all Class 80x trains can be fitted with similar, if not identical batteries.

This would give the big advantage of allowing battery testing to be performed on Class 803 trains under test, up and down the East Coast Main Line.

Nothing finds faults in the design and manufacture of something used in transport, than to run it up and down in real conditions.

Failure of the catenary can be simulated to check out emergency modes.

Can A Class 801 Train Be Converted Into A Class 803 Train?

If I’d designed the trains, this conversion would be possible.

Currently, the electric Class 801 trains have a single diesel generator. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train about the Class 801 train.

These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails.

So it looks like the difference between the powertrain of a Class 801 train and a Class 803 train, is that the Class 801 train has a diesel generator and the Class 803 train has batteries. But the diesel generator and batteries, would appear to serve the same purpose.

Surely removing diesel from a Class 801 train would ease the maintenance of the train!

Will The System Work With Third-Rail Electrification?

There are three routes that if they were electrified would probably be electrified with 750 DC third-rail electrification, as they have this electrification at one or both ends.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Marshlink Line
  • Uckfield branch

Note.

  1. Basingstoke and Exeter would need a couple of charging systems.
  2. The Marshlink line would need a charging system at Rye station.
  3. The Uckfield branch would need a charging system at Uckfield station.

I am fairly certain as an Electrical Engineer, that the third-rails would only need to be switched on, when a train is connected and needs a charge.

I also feel that on some scenic and other routes, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may be more acceptable , than 25 KVAC  overhead electrification. For example, would the heritage lobby accept overhead wires through a World Heritage Site or on top of a Grade I Listed viaduct?

I do feel that the ability to use third-rail 750 VDC third-rail electrification strategically could be a useful tool in the system.

Will The System Work With Lightweight Catenary?

I like the design of this 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that uses lightweight gantries, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.

Isuspect that both systems could work together.

 

Would Less Bridges Need To Be Rebuilt For Electrification?

This is always a contentious issue with electrification, as rebuilding bridges causes disruption to both rail and road.

I do wonder though by the use of careful design, that it might be possible to arrange that the sections of electrification and the contentious bridges were kept apart, with the bridges arranged to be in sections, where the trains ran on batteries.

I suspect that over the years as surveyors and engineers get more experienced, better techniques will evolve to satisfy all parties.

Get this right and it could reduce the cost of electrification on some lines, that will be difficult to electrify.

How Secure Are The Containerised Systems?

Consider.

  • I was delayed in East Anglia two years ago, because someone stole the overhead wires at two in the morning.
  • Apparently, overhead wire stealing is getting increasingly common in France and other parts of Europe.

I suspect the containerised systems will need to be more secure than those used for buses, which are not in isolated locations.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Use Energy Storage?

Consider.

  • I’ve lived in rural locations and the power grids are not as good as in urban areas.
  • Increasingly, batteries of one sort or another are being installed in rural locations to beef up local power supplies.
  • A new generation of small-footprint eco-friendly energy storage systems are being developed.

In some locations, it might be prudent for a containerised charging system to share a battery with the local area.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Accept Electricity From Local Sources Like Solar Farms?

I ask the question, as I know at least one place on the UK network, where a line without electrification runs through a succession of solar farms.

I also know of an area, where a locally-owned co-operative is planning a solar farm, which they propose would be used to power the local main line.

Will The System Work With Class 385 Trains?

Hitachi’s Class 385 trains are closely related to the Class 80x trains, as they are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

Will the Charging Systems Charge Other Manufacturers Trains?

CAF and Stadler are both proposing to introduce battery-electric trains in the UK.

I also suspect that the new breed of electric parcel trains will include a battery electric variant.

As these trains will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, I would expect, that they would be able to charge their batteries on the Hitachi ABB  charging systems.

Will The System Work With Freight Trains?

I believe that freight services will split into two.

Heavy freight will probably use powerful hydrogen-electric locomotives.

In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, which is based on a Freightliner press release, I detail Freightliner’s decarbonisation strategy, which indicates that in the future they will use hydrogen-powered locomotives.

But not all freight is long and extremely heavy and I believe that a battery-electric freight locomotive will emerge for lighter duties.

There is no reason it could not be designed to be compatible with Hitachi’s charging system.

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I talked about the plans for 100 mph parcel services based on redundant electric multiple units. Eversholt Rail Group have said they want a Last-Mile capability for their version of these trains.

Perhaps they need a battery-electric capability, so they can deliver parcels and shop supplies to the remoter parts of these islands?

Where Could Hitachi’s System Be Deployed?

This is the final paragraph from the article.

Hitachi is not committing to any routes yet, but a glance at the railway map shows clear potential for the battery/OLE-technology to be deployed on relatively lightly used rural and regional routes where it will be hard to make a case for electrification. The Cambrian Coast and Central Wales Lines would appear to be worthy candidates, and in Scotland, the West Highland Line and Far North routes are also logical areas for the system to be deployed.

In England, while shorter branch lines could simply be operated by battery trains, longer routes need an alternative. Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy interim business case recommends hydrogen trains for branch lines in Norfolk, as well as Par to Newquay and Exeter to Barnstaple. However, it is also entirely feasible to use the system on routes likely to be electrified much later in the programme, such as the Great Western main line West of Exeter, Swansea to Fishguard and parts of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine would be driven by high collateral benefits and practicality.

These are my thoughts.

Long Rural Lines

The Cambrian, Central Wales (Heart Of Wales), Far North and West Highland Lines may not be connected to each other, but they form a group of rail routes with a lot of shared characteristics.

  • All are rural routes of between 100 and 200 miles.
  • All are mainly single track.
  • They carry occasional freight trains.
  • They carry quite a few tourists, who are there to sample, view or explore the countryside.
  • All trains are diesel.
  • Scotrail have been experimenting with attaching Class 153 trains to the trains on the West Highland Line to act as lounge cars and cycle storage.

Perhaps we need a long-distance rural train with the following characteristics.

  • Four or possibly five cars
  • Battery-electric power
  • Space for a dozen cycles
  • A lounge car
  • Space for a snack trolley
  • Space to provide a parcels service to remote locations.

I should also say, that I’ve used trains on routes in countries like Germany, Poland and Slovenia, where a similar train requirement exists.

Norfolk Branch Lines

Consider.

  • North of the Cambridge and Ipswich, the passenger services on the branch lines and the important commuter routes between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich are run by Stadler Class 755 trains, which are designed to be converted to battery-electric trains.
  • Using Hitachi chargers at Beccles, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft, Thetford and Yarmouth and the existing electrification, battery-electric Class 755 trains could provide a zero-carbon train service for Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • With chargers at Dereham and March, two important new branch lines could be added and the Ipswich and Peterborough service could go hourly and zero carbon.
  • Greater Anglia have plans to use the Class 755 trains to run a London and Lowestoft service.
  • Could they be planning a London and Norwich service via Cambridge?
  • Would battery-electric trains running services over Norfolk bring in more visitors by train?

Hitachi may sell a few chargers to Greater Anglia, but I feel they have enough battery-electric trains.

Par And Newquay

The Par and Newquay Line or the Atlantic Coast Line, has been put forward as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

In that related post, I said the line needed the following.

  • An improved track layout.
  • An hourly service.
  • An improved Par station.
  • A rebuilt Newquay station with a second platform, so that more through trains can be run.

I do wonder, if after the line were to be improved, that a new three-car battery-electric train shuttling between Par and Newquay stations could be the icing on the cake.

Exeter And Barnstaple

The Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is one of several local and main lines radiating from Exeter St. David’s station.

  • The Avocet Line to Exmouth
  • The Great Western Main Line to Taunton, Bristol and London
  • The Great Western Main Line to Newton Abbott, Plymouth and Penzance
  • The Riviera Line to Paignton
  • The West of England Line to Salisbury, Basingstoke and London.

Note.

  1. The Dartmoor Line to Okehampton is under development.
  2. Several new stations are planned on the routes.
  3. I have already stated that Exeter could host a charging station between London and Penzance, but it could also be an electrified hub for battery-electric trains running hither and thither.

Exeter could be a city with a battery-electric metro.

Exeter And Penzance

Earlier, I said that I’d trial multiple chargers between Paddington and Penzance to prove the concept worked.

I said this.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

But it is also an enabling route, as it would enable the following battery-electric services.

  • London and Bodmin
  • London and Okehampton
  • London and Paignton and Torquay

It would also enable the Exeter battery-electric metro.

For these reasons, this route should be electrified using Hitachi’s discontinuous electrification.

Swansea And Fishguard

I mentioned Swansea earlier, as a station, that could be fitted with a charging system, as this would allow battery-electric trains between Paddington and Swansea via Cardiff.

Just as with Exeter, there must be scope at Swansea to add a small number of charging systems to develop a battery-electric metro based on Swansea.

Cumbrian Coast Line

This is a line that needs improvement, mainly for the tourists and employment it could and probably will bring.

These are a few distances.

  • West Coast Main Line (Carnforth) and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.1 miles
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield – 25 miles
  • Sellafield and Workington – 18 miles
  • Workington and West Coast Main Line (Carlisle) – 33 miles

Note.

  1. The West Coast Main Line is fully-electrified.
  2. I suspect that Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield and Workington have good enough electricity supplies to support charging systems  for the Cumbrian Coast Line.
  3. The more scenic parts of the line would be left without wires.

It certainly is a line, where a good case for running battery-electric trains can be made.

Crewe And Holyhead

In High-Speed Low-Carbon Transport Between Great Britain And Ireland, I looked at zero-carbon travel between the Great Britain and Ireland.

One of the fastest routes would be a Class 805 train between Euston and Holyhead and then a fast catamaran to either Dublin or a suitable rail-connected port in the North.

  • The Class 805 trains could be made battery-electric.
  • The trains could run between Euston and Crewe at speeds of up to 140 mph under digital signalling.
  • Charging systems would probably be needed at Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead.
  • The North Wales Coast Line looks to my untrained eyes, that it could support at least some 100 mph running.

I believe that a time of under three hours could be regularly achieved between London Euston and Holyhead.

Battery-electric trains on this route, would deliver the following benefits.

  • A fast low-carbon route from Birmingham, London and Manchester to the island of Ireland. if coupled with the latest fast catamarans at Holyhead.
  • Substantial reductions in journey times to and from Anglesey and the North-West corner of Wales.
  • Chester could become a hub for battery-electric trains to and from Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Shrewsbury.
  • Battery-electric trains could be used on the Conwy Valley Line.
  • It might even be possible to connect the various railways, heritage railways and tourist attractions in the area with zero-carbon shuttle buses.
  • Opening up of the disused railway across Anglesey.

The economics of this corner of Wales could be transformed.

My Priority Routes

To finish this section, I will list my preferred routes for this method of discontinuous electrification.

  • Exeter and Penzance
  • Swansea and Fishguard
  • Crewe and Holyhead

Note.

  1. Some of the trains needed for these routes have been delivered or are on order.
  2. Local battery-electric services could be developed at Chester, Exeter and Swansea by building on the initial systems.
  3. The collateral benefits could be high for Anglesey, West Wales and Devon and Cornwall.

I suspect too, that very little construction work not concerned with the installation of the charging systems will be needed.

Conclusion

Hitachi have come up with a feasible way to electrify Great Britain’s railways.

I would love to see detailed costings for the following.

  • Adding a battery pack to a Class 800 train.
  • Installing five miles of electrification supported by a containerised charging system.

They could be on the right side for the Treasury.

But whatever the costs, it does appear that the Japanese have gone native, with their version of the Great British Compromise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Design, Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Nunhead Junction Improvement

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the secondary recommendations of the report is to improve Nunhead junction.

The report explains it like this.

Rail freight stakeholders have consistently highlighted Nunhead as a priority location for improving the flow of freight around the London orbital routes. The junction to the immediate east of the station is a flat crossing where two lines of route and multiple passenger and freight services groups converge into the South London Line, creating a pinch point for capacity.

Freight train drivers, when consulted for input into this strategy, flagged the route eastbound from Peckham Rye through Nunhead and towards Lewisham as a challenging section on which to keep heavier trains moving. This is primarily a consequence of the relatively slow permissible speed of 25mph over Nunhead Junction when routed towards Lewisham,
which follows a steadily rising gradient from Peckham Rye.

The option proposed by this strategy is for changes to the track alignment in order to increase the speed of the turnout towards Lewisham, as far as can be achieved without affecting the speed of the main route towards Catford. This option would primarily benefit the performance of eastbound freight flowing from the South London Line towards the North Kent lines, one of the key rail freight corridors in the South East, enabling freight trains to run at faster and more consistent speeds towards Lewisham.

This would most likely increase right time presentation at the critical flat junction at Lewisham, as well as assisting the flow of passenger and freight trains to the Catford Loop by ensuring preceding Lewisham-bound traffic can clear Nunhead Junction as quickly as possible.

Addressing the existing constraints to freight traffic through Nunhead, which by their nature most affect the heavier bulk traffic that characterises the North Kent corridor, would also support industry aspirations to maximise the payloads that trains can haul.

This map from cartometro.com shows the route between Nunhead and Lewisham stations.

 

And this Google Map shows Nunhead station and the junction.

Note.

  1. Nunhead junction is towards the right of the map.
  2. The lines going to the East go to Lewisham.
  3. The lines going to the South East go to Crofton Park and Catford.
  4. I have counted the freight trains through Nunhead junction on real time trains  and there can be as main as six trains per hour (tph), through the junction at times, using both Lewisham and Crofton Park routes.

But there would also appear to be plenty of space around the junction to realign the tracks.

As many trains need to go East from Lewisham and there are two flat junctions on the route; Nunhead and Lewisham, anything that improves keeping to schedule is to be welcomed.

The Use Of Electric Haulage

All routes through Nunhead junction have 750 VDC third-rail electrification, but I suspect all freight trains through the junction are diesel hauled.

Real time trains also shows that many of the trains through Nunhead junction also use the West London Line through Shepherd’s Bush.

In Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes, I proposed a dual-voltage battery-electric locomotive to handle freight trains.

Perhaps more capable battery-electric freight locomotives with their better acceleration, are part of the solution at Nunhead junction.

Conclusion

This appears to be a well-thought out solution to one of the problems for freight trains in London.

I also believe that dual-voltage battery-electric locomotives could be part of the solution at Nunhead junction and would also help in many other places on the UK rail network.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the secondary recommendations of the report is to move the switchover between AC and DC power on the West London Line to Kensington Olympia station. It says this about the switchover.

Although moving the changeover to Shepherd’s Bush would eliminate the need for passenger trains to slow down or stop at North Pole Junction, electrically hauled freight trains will still need to switch power supply modes whilst moving, wherever the AC/DC interface is located.

Due to the substantial incline facing trains running northward on the WLL, which increases in severity towards the Willesden end of the route, it would be preferable for the changeover to be made as far south as possible. This would enable freight trains to slow down to switch traction before reaching the worst of the gradient, giving them a much better chance of regaining line speed once drawing power from the OLE.

Although Kensington Olympia is less than a mile to the south of Shepherd’s Bush, the intervening route section is almost entirely level, with the incline commencing just before Shepherd’s Bush station and continuing to rise sharply along the rest of the WLL. The capacity and performance benefits of relocating the changeover are therefore likely to be greater if the overhead wires are extended to Kensington Olympia, removing the risk to traffic flow that would remain if freight trains were forced to switch whilst running uphill.

This would prepare the West London Line for the transition to electric freight that will be necessary as part of the decarbonisation of the railway over the next thirty years.

Resolving the current traction changeover issues for freight as well as passenger trains would support this transition by encouraging freight operators to invest in electric locomotives to run on the orbital routes, in the confidence that this constraint has been addressed.

I covered this recommendation in Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush, as so many arguments are the same about the two stations.

This was my conclusion in the related post.

I believe, as probably do Network Rail, that Kensington Olympia station should be the station, where the switchover occurs.

I did add a caveat, that it is probably all down to money.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 22, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 17 Comments

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the recommendations of the report is to move the switchover between AC and DC power on the West London Line to Shepherd’s Bush station. It says this about the switchover.

Extension of the overhead wires further along the WLL, to provide AC electrification as far south as Shepherd’s Bush station.

Two passenger train services run along the West London Line.

  • Four tph – London Overground – Clapham Junction and Stratford
  • One tph – Southern – Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. London Overground would like to increase their service to six tph.
  3. All trains stop at Shepherd’s Bush station.

The West London Line (WLL) runs between Willesden Junction station in the North and Clapham Junction station in the South.

These are the stations and their electrification status.

  • Willesden Junction – 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification
  • Shepherd’s Bush – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification
  • Kensington Olympia – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification
  • West Brompton – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification
  • Imperial Wharf – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

The switchover is performed North of Shepherd’s Bush station with the train moving.

These pictures show the electrification to the North of Shepherd’s Bush station.

This double-electrification allows switchover, whilst the trains are moving.

This is said in the Network Rail document about moving the West London Line AC/DC switchover to Shepherd’s Bush station.

Extending the Overhead Line Equipment south to Shepherd’s Bush would enable passenger trains to change traction source whilst making their scheduled station stop.

A slight extension to dwell times at Shepherd’s Bush may be required, but the elimination of the need to slow down or, especially, to stop, as is the case for GTR trains, at North Pole Junction would release a significant amount of capacity.

Recent work carried out on behalf of Transport for London calculated that the relocation of the changeover to the Shepherd’s Bush could provide an indicative net saving of 7 minutes per hour, which is equivalent to an additional path and some additional time for timetable flexibility.

The LRFS capacity analysis concluded that this intervention could potentially release up to two additional timetable paths an hour in each direction.

Moreover, the analysis advised that eliminating the need for GTR services to stop to change traction at North Pole Junction would be of significant performance benefit even today.

This sounds to me like this us a good solution, that will give winners all round.

  • I went North yesterday on a GTR (Southern) service and can confirm, the stop to switch voltage at North Pole junction.
  • Extra paths are always good news.
  • I have a feeling that the overhead electrification on the route isn’t the best, so Network Rail may even have to replace it anyway.

What I like about the proposal, is that if the switchover point is moved to Shepherd’s Bush station and in the very rare occurence of a switchover failure, the passengers can be easily evacuated from the train as it will most likely be in Shepherd’s Bush station, rather than in the industrial wastelands of West London.

These pictures show Shepherd’s Bush station.

Note.

  1. It looks like the bridges have been built high enough for overhead electrification.
  2. The platforms appear to be able to handle long trains.
  3. Putting up overhead gantries doesn’t look to be the most challenging of tasks.

I don’t think, that the engineering needed will be difficult and because of the gains outlined in the report, this project should be performed as soon as possible.

Should The AC/DC Switchover Be At Kensington Olympia Station?

The Network Rail document also muses about performing the AC/DC switchover at Kensington Olympia station.

This is said.

Although moving the changeover to Shepherd’s Bush would eliminate the need for passenger trains to slow down or stop at North Pole Junction, electrically hauled freight trains will still need to switch power supply modes whilst moving, wherever the AC/DC interface is located.

Due to the substantial incline facing trains running northward on the WLL, which increases in severity towards the Willesden end of the route, it would be preferable for the changeover to be made as far south as possible. This would enable freight trains to slow down to switch traction before reaching the worst of the gradient, giving them a much better chance of regaining line speed once drawing power from the OLE.

Although Kensington Olympia is less than a mile to the south of Shepherd’s Bush, the intervening route section is almost entirely level, with the incline commencing just before Shepherd’s Bush station and continuing to rise sharply along the rest of the WLL. The capacity and performance benefits of relocating the changeover are therefore likely to be greater if the overhead wires are extended to Kensington Olympia, removing the risk to traffic flow that would remain if freight trains were forced to switch whilst running uphill.

This would prepare the West London Line for the transition to electric freight that will be necessary as part of the decarbonisation of the railway over the next thirty years.

Resolving the current traction changeover issues for freight as well as passenger trains would support this transition by encouraging freight operators to invest in electric locomotives to run on the orbital routes, in the confidence that this constraint has been addressed.

Network Rail seem to have made a very strong case for switching between AC and DC power at Kensington Olympia station.

These Google Map shows Kensington Olympia station.

And these pictures show the station on a very wet day.

It doesn’t appear that there would be too many problems in electrifying Kensington Olympia station.

The only problem, may be the bridge at Addison Gardens to the North of Kensington Olympia station.

Although, Network Rail have an extensive range of tricks to get the wires through.

Conclusion

I believe, as probably do Network Rail, that Kensington Olympia station should be the station, where the switchover occurs.

But it’s all down to money.

It does seem to me, that the London Rail Freight Strategy is the first serious attempt to work out, the possible freight and passenger uses of the West London Line, which is one of those rail lines that has been designed by Topsy and accidents of history.

How many other rail routes in the UK, would be improved by a similar analysis?

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

 

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The New Platform 8 At Cardiff Central Station

It’s been a long time, since I’ve been to Cardiff station and it now has a new platform on the South sisw, which is numbers 8.

It now looks like Cardiff Central has three platforms 6, 7 and 8 for most of the local services.

This Google Map shows the new South entrance.

Note.

  1. The actual entrance is the five-sided building at the bottom of the map.
  2. Platform 8 is in front of this building.
  3. Platforms 6 and 7 are either side of the island platform..
  4. The three platforms are connected by a subway.

It doesn’t appear that the platforms are electrified at this time.

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Plans For £100m Coventry To Nottingham Rail Link Announced

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A £100m scheme to reconnect three Midlands cities by rail could be running by 2025, subject to funding, according to a regional transport group.

Midlands Connect said it had completed a strategic business case for a direct link between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham.

The article also says this about the route.

The group said there was a “strong case” for the project and it had narrowed it down to two – one which called at the Warwickshire town of Nuneaton and one which ran direct between the three cities.

In A Potential Leicester To Coventry Rail Link, which I wrote in February 2019, I talked about this link and came to the conclusion it was feasible.

But things have moved on in those two years and these are my updated thoughts.

Via Nuneaton Or Direct

This Google Map shows the rail layout to the South of Nuneaton station.

Note.

  1. The multi-track electrified railway running North-West and South-East is the Trent Valley section of the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Branching off to the South-West is the Coventry and Nuneaton Line.
  3. Branching off to the South-East is the line to Leicester.

Nuneaton station is off the map to the North on the West Coast Main Line.

Unfortunately, services to Coventry and Leamington Spa call in Platform 1 on the Western side of the station and services between Leicester and Birmingham call in platforms 6 and 7 on the Eastern side.

This probably rules out a clever solution, where perhaps an island platform, has Birmingham and Leicester services on one side and Coventry and Leicester services on the other.

This Google Map shows Nuneaton station.

Note.

  1. Platform 6 and 7 form the island platform on the North-East side of the station.
  2. Birmingham trains call in Platform 6.
  3. Leicester trains call in Platform 7.

The track layout for Platforms 6 and 7 appears comprehensive with crossovers allowing both platforms to be used for services to both cities.

This Google Map shows the crowded track layout to the South of the station.

The only possibility would appear to be a single track dive-under that connected Platform 6 and/or 7 to the Coventry and Nuneaton Line on the other side of the West Coast Main Line.

I feel that costs would rule it out.

I suspect that a direct solution cutting out Nuneaton might be possible.

This Google Map shows the three routes diverging to the South of Nuneaton station.

It might be possible to connect the Coventry and Leicester Lines, but the curve might be too tight.

The alternative could be to build a dive-under that would connect Platform 1 to the Leicester Line.

  • It would appear that it could be the easiest and most affordable option.
  • Trains would reverse in Nuneaton station.

It is certainly a tricky problem, but I do believe there is a simple cost-effective solution in there somewhere.

Nuneaton Parkway Station

This page on Coventry Live gives some information about the proposed Nuneaton Parkway station.

There is also a proposed station, to be called Nuneaton Parkway, situated off the A5 between Hinckley and Nuneaton.

This Google Map shows the area where the A5 crosses the Birmingham-Peterborough Line, that runs between Hinckley and Nuneaton..

This must surely be one of the best sites to build a new Parkway station in the UK.

  • The triangular site is a waste transfer station operated by Veolia Environmental Services UK.
  • It has a direct connection to the A5, which could be easily improved, with perhaps a roundabout.
  • Doing a crude estimate from the Google Map, I calculate that the site is about sixteen hectares, which is surely a good size for a Parkway station.
  • There’s even quite a lot of new housing within walking and cycling distance.

It would also appear that the station could be built on this site without major disruption to either road or rail traffic.

The Stations And Timing

This document on the Midlands Connect web site, gives their aims for the service.

  • Coventry and Leicester – 38 minutes from 54 minutes with one change.
  • Coventry and Loughborough – 50 minutes from 88 minutes with otwo changes.
  • Coventry and East Midlands Parkway – 56 minutes from 104 minutes with otwo changes.
  • Coventry and Nottingham – 70 minutes from 108 minutes with otwo changes.

The service would have a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

If the train did the same station stops as the current services between Coventry and Leicester, it could stop at all or a selection of the following intermediate stations.

  • South Wigston
  • Narborough
  • Hinckley
  • Nuneaton
  • Bermuda Park
  • Bedworth
  • Coventry Arena

The total time would appear to be around fifty minutes, with 28 minutes for Leicester to Nuneaton and 22 minutes from Nuneaton to Coventry. Although the BBC article says that Coventry and Leicester would drop from the current 54 minutes to 38 minutes.

Currently services between Leicester and Birmingham New Street stations are run by CrossCountry.

  • One tph – Birmingham New Street and Cambridge or Stansted Airport
  • One tph – Birmingham New Street and Leicester

Note that not all intermediate stations receive a two tph service.

Would a two tph service between Leicester and Coventry enable all the stations on the route to have a two tph service?

The Current Leicester And Nottingham Service

Currently the following services run between Leicester and Nottingham.

  • 1 tph – EMR InterCity – Direct
  • 1 tph – EMR InterCity – Via Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston
  • 1 tph – EMR Regional – Via Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Attenborough and Beeston

Note.

  1. Timings vary between 23 and 49 minutes.
  2. Four tph between Leicester and Nottingham would be a Turn-Up-and-Go service that would attract passengers.
  3. The BBC article is indicating a Coventry and Nottingham time of 70 minutes, which would indicate a Leicester and Nottingham time of 32 minutes, which would appear to be in-line with the EMR Intercity service that stops at Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.

It looks to me that a fourth semi-fast service between Leicester and Nottingham would not be a bad idea.

But Midlands Connect are proposing two extra tph between Coventry and Nottingham.

A Coventry And Nottingham Service

Consider.

  • An two tph service would fit in well and give a Turn-Up-and-Go service between Leicester and Nottingham.
  • The Coventry and Nottingham time of 70 minutes indicates that the train would need to be to EMR InterCity standard.
  • If there is an allowance of twenty minutes at either end of the route, this would indicate a round trip of three hours.

This standard of service would need an operational fleet of six five-car Class 810 trains or similar for a frequency of two tph.

I very much feel that there should be electrification of the Midland Main Line between Leicester and either East Midlands Parkway or Derby.

This would mean that the Coventry and Nottingham route would break down as follows.

  • Coventry and Nuneaton – 19,2 miles – No electrification
  • Nuneaton and Leicester – 18.8 miles – No electrification
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway – 19.1 miles – Possible electrification
  • East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham – 8.4 miles – No electrification

Note that electrification is already available  at Coventry and Nuneaton.

The Coventry and Nottingham route would appear to be possible with battery-electric trains, after the route between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway is electrified.

An Improved Birmingham And Cambridge Service

If Nottingham and Coventry needs a fast two tph service stopping at the major towns and cities in between, surely Birmingham and Cambridge need a similar service.

  • It could call at Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge North.
  • Some services could be extended to Stansted Airport.
  • It would have a frequency of two tph.

The Birmingham and Cambridge route would break down as follows.

  • Birmingham and Nuneaton – 21 miles – No electrification
  • Nuneaton and Leicester – 18.8 miles – No electrification
  • Leicester and Peterborough – 40 miles – No electrification
  • Peterborough and Ely – 30.5 miles – No electrification
  • Ely and Cambridge – 14.7 miles – Electrified.

Note that electrification is already available  at Birmingham, Nuneaton and Peterborough.

The Birmingham and Cambridge route would appear to be possible with battery-electric trains, if Leicester station were to be electrified.

Midland Connect’s Proposed Leeds and Bedford Service

I wrote about this service in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station.

It would run between Leeds and Bedford stations.

It would use the Midland Main Line between Bedford and East Midlands Hub stations.

It would use High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.

It would stop at Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and East Midlands Hub stations.

  • The service frequency could be hourly, but two trains per hour (tph) would be better.
  • Leicester and Leeds would take 46 minutes.

Obviously, it wouldn’t run until the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two opens, but it could open up the possibility of Coventry and Leeds in under ninety minutes.

Driving takes over two hours via the M1.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very feasible and fast service.

It also illustrates how extending the electrification on the Midland Main Line can enable battery-electric trains to provide connecting services.

Enough electrification at Leicester and a few miles North of the station to fully charge passing trains would probably be all that is needed.

 

 

 

May 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DfT To Have Final Say On Huddersfield Rebuild Of Rail Station And Bridges

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

This is the first paragraph.

As part of the £1.4bn Transpennine Route Upgrade. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is to rule on planned changes to Huddersfield’s 19th century rail station and not the Kirklees council, in what is to be a huge revamp of the line between Manchester and York.

According to the article eight bridges are to be replaced or seriously modified.

As Huddersfield station (shown) is Grade I listed and three other Grade II listed buildings and structures are involved, I can see this project ending up with a substantial bill for lawyers.

But then, to have a world-class railway across the Pennines, a few eggs will need to be broken.

Electric Trains Across The Pennine

This page on the Network Rail web site describes the Huddersfield To Westtown (Dewsbury) Upgrade.

When the upgrade and the related York To Church Fenton Improvement Scheme is completed, the TransPennine route between Huddersfield and York will be fully-electrified.

As Manchester To Stalybridge will also have been electrified, this will mean that the only section without electrification will be the eighteen miles across the Pennines between Stalybridge and Huddersfield.

Will this final eighteen miles ne electrified?

Eighteen miles with electrification at both ends will be a short jump for a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

The Class 802 trains of TransPennine Express are able to be converted into these trains.

The trains could work these routes.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough
  • Manchester Airport and Redcar
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newcastle
  • Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Hull
  • Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes

Note.

  1. I suspect some more Class 802 trains with batteries will be needed.
  2. The trains would either use battery or diesel power to reach Hull, Redcar and Scarborough or there could be a few miles of electrification to stretch battery range.
  3. Will the Class 68 diesel locomotives be replaced with Class 93 tri-mode locomotives to haul the Mark 5A coaches to Scarborough.
  4. Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes could be a problem and will probably need some electrification around Sheffield and Grimsby.

This would just mean TransPennine’s two short routes to be decarbonised.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Huddersfield
  • Huddersfield and Leeds

As except for the eighteen mile gap between Stalybridge and Huddersfield, these two routes are fully-electrified, I suspect that a battery-electric version of a 110 mph electric train like a Class 387 or Class 350 train could run these routes.

Conclusion

It looks like if these sections of the TransPennine Express network are upgraded and electrified.

  • York and Church Fenton
  • Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Manchester and Staylebridge

Together with a few extra miles of electrification at strategic points, that TransPennine Express will be able to decarbonise.

 

May 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments