The Anonymous Widower

Porterbrook Announces New Approach To Fitting New Tech To Electrostar Trains

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Porterbrook, Siemens Mobility and Bombardier have announced that they have agreed on a new approach to the fitment of ETCS technology onto existing Electrostar trains.

So what does it mean?

It appears have already had benefits in the updating of the Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express.

Hopefully, the approach will mean that all existing Bombardier and Siemens trains in the UK will have a full ETCS fit in as short time as possible.

This must open up the possibility for full digital signalling and greater capacity  on lines, that are run exclusively by new trains and recent Bombardier and Siemens products.

February 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw Material For Southern’s Battery Trains

Porterbrook and Southern are proposing to convert a number of Class 377/3 trains to battery operation for the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line, as I wrote about in Electroflex Battery EMU Plan To End Southern Diesel Operation.

This morning I took a ride in a ten-car Class 377 train formed by two three-car Class 377/3 units and one Class 377/4.

I will split my observations into various sections.

First Class

There is a small First Class section.

Is this really needed in a three-car train, considering that some franchises are going for one-class trains?

Gangways

On the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line, I suspect that trains will work in multiple formations, so the gangway will be useful to allow passengers to pass between individual trains.

Interior

The interior is reasonably modern, as the trains were originally built in 2001-2002 and they meet all of the persons of reduced mobility legislation.

Multiple Working

The train I rode on consisted of three Class 377 Trains working together, so it would appear that six, nine and twelve car trains may be possible.

Tables And Cup-Holders

I would prefer full-size tables and perhaps these could be fitted, during the conversion, like they are in some Class 377 trains.

If not tables, then how about some cup-holders?

Universal Access Toilet

A universal-access toilet is fitted in the middle car.

Wi-Fi

Wi-fi appears to be fitted.

25 KVAC Operation

Although the trains are currently configured for operation on 750 VDC trird-rail electrification, these trains can be converted to run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

This would obviously mean that if the trains were no longer needed in Sussex, they could run anywhere else, where there is electrification.

Conclusion

They are a well-equipped train.

It would appear that very little will need to be done to the interior of the train in the conversion.

First may be downgraded to standard and I would fit full tables.

The operator would do what they wanted.

 

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electroflex Battery EMU Plan To End Southern Diesel Operation

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

An electric multiple-unit is to be equipped with batteries for ’first of a kind’ testing which could lead to the end of diesel traction on the Ashford – Hastings and Oxted – Uckfield routes.

The train to be converted is a Class 377/3 train.

  • These are three car trains.
  • There are twenty-nine trains.
  • They have 176 seats.
  • They were built in 2001/2002.

The article gives some details of the conversion.

  • The trains would have a range of 60 km.
  • They could be charged in eight minutes.
  • There would be an emergency mode to keep systems running for an hour. Sounds very much like a Class 345 train.
  • Between twenty-five and thirty trains would need to be converted to replace all the diesel trains. Twenty-nine?

The article also says that the General Election has delayed the sign-off.

In August 2018, I wrote Battery Trains On The Uckfield Branch. I was proposing Aventras as they are obviously a more efficient train. The article details a lot of the mathematics involved.

Some Observations

These are my observations on various topics.

Uckfield Branch

The section without electrification on the Uckfield Branch is forty kilometres long.

A train with a full battery can go from one end to the other.

As the train takes eleven minutes to turn round at Uckfield, there is enough time to recharge the batteries.

Would the route be run by three Class 377/3 trains, running as a nine car unit?

Trains would be charged en route between London Bridge and Hurst Green stations and if required at Uckfield.

Would charging at Uckfield be a length of third-rail electrification in the long platform?

It sounds that there is a feasible solution for Uckfield.

Capacity On The Uckfield Branch

Consider

  • Three Class 377/3 trains running together have a capacity of 528 seats.
  • Five Class 171 trains running together have a capacity of 535 seats.

I think that the capacity would be enough.

Number Of Trains Needed For The Uckfield Branch

The round trip on this route takes three hours, so to run an hourly service will need three nine-car trains or nine three-car trains in total. Two trains per hour (tph) will need a total of eighteen trains.

The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line is also forty kilometres long and both ends are already electrified.

Services on the route terminate at Eastbourne in the West and Ashford International in the East.

As the route between Ore and Eastbourne stations is fully electrified, charging at the Western end of the route, will be en route and trains will arrive at Ore with a full battery.

The platform at Ashford International is electrified using third rail and there is adequate time in the turnround to charge the battery, so that it leaves Ashford full.

Train Length On The Marshlink Line

There are some shorter platforms across the Romney Marsh and these may restrict the length of train that can be used. But as they are generally two-car trains at present, even a three-car train is an over fifty percent increase in capacity.

I suspect Southern would probably want to run six-car trains between Ashford and Eastbourne.

Number Of Trains Needed for the Marshlink Line

The round trip on the route takes three hours, so to run an hourly service will need three trains. If they were six cars, then six three-car trains would be needed.

Total Number Of Trains Needed For Both Routes

If nine-car half-hourly trains are run on the Uckfield Branch and hourly six-car trains on the Marshlink, this will need twenty-four trains. As there are twenty-nine trains available for conversion, this would appear to be very convenient.

The article stated that between twenty-five and thirty would need to be converted. So there is probably enough trains to allow for a spare and a couple in maintenance.

What Size Battery Will Be Needed On Each Train?

I will now attempt to estimate the size of battery needed for the train.

The Kinetic Energy Of A Full Train

This is important for two reasons.

  • When a train accelerates from rest, the battery must have enough stored energy to bring that train to the operating speed.
  • When a battery train brakes, the energy of the train, recovered by regenerative braking, must be capable of being stored in the battery.

Note that regenerative braking loses perhaps ten to fifteen percent of the energy at each station stop.

This is the calculation for the kinetic energy.

  • The weight of the empty train is 133.1 tonnes
  • The train has around two hundred passengers, who each weigh 90 kilograms with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This adds a surprising 18 tonnes.
  • The total train weight 151.1 tonnes.

The kinetic energy of the train can be calculated for various speeds using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator.

  • 30 mph – 3.8 kWh
  • 40 mph – 6.7 kWh
  • 50 mph – 10.5 kWh
  • 60 mph – 15.1 kWh
  • 70 mph – 20.6 kWh
  • 100 mph – 42.0 kWh

I have included the last figure, as that is the cruising speed of the train.

When I first calculated train energy figures, I thought these figures were too low, when you consider that according to Ovo Energy, the average electricity consumption of a UK dwelling is about 10 kWh.

Regenerative Braking Losses

If we assume that at each stop fifteen percent of the energy of the train is not recovered, then for a train travelling at 60 mph, then 0.15 * 15.1 or 2.3 kWh will be lost at each stop.

The Uckfield Branch has seven intermediate stops so will lose 15.9 kWh under braking and this will need to be in the battery at the start of the electrification-free run.

The Marshlink Line has six intermediate stops, so will lose 13.6 kWh.

Energy Needed To Maintain Speed And Run The Train

A train needs power for the following purposes.

  • Overcome friction and aerodynamic loses, whilst travelling at the operating speed. When you are riding a bicycle, you need more energy to accelerate, but then you need to keep pedalling to maintain speed.
  • To power the various electrical systems on the train, like air-conditioning, doors, lights and toilets.
  • To power the control systems of the train.

It is generally accepted, that a simple way of expressing the power needed by the train is between 2 and 5 kWh per vehicle-mile.

So power needed by a three-car Class 377 train over the twenty-five miles of both routes will be.

  • 2 kWh per vehicle-mile – 150 kWh
  • 3 kWh per vehicle-mile – 225 kWh
  • 4 kWh per vehicle-mile – 300 kWh
  • 5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 375 kWh

This energy will be taken from the battery.

An Estimate Of Energy Used And Battery Size Required

This calculation is for the Uckfield Branch and I am assuming the following.

  • A cruising speed of 60 mph.
  • Regenerative braking is 85 % efficient.
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile is used in the cruise.

Energy use will be as follows.

  • Initial acceleration to cruising speed – 15.1 kWh
  • Regeneration losses – 7 * 0.15 * 15.1 -15.9 kWh
  • Energy needed to run train – 225 kWh

This gives a total of 256 kWh

There will also need to be a reserve to cater for.

  • Trains stopping because of a problem like cows on the line.
  • Recovery of the train to the nearest station.

The article talked about an emergency mode of an hour.

I wonder if a battery of between three hundred and four hundred kWh would be sufficient.

Note that Vivarail find space for 424 kWh in the two-car train, I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

I have various Excel spreadsheets that can model various scenarios.

I’m sure Bombardier have much better information, than I do and can do better than this crude estimate.

Conclusion

This could be the first of many conversions of existing Bombardier Electrostars and Siemens Desiros to battery-electric operation.

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

What Will Happen To Great Western Railway’s Class 387 Trains?

I have been looking at the services that Great Western Railway run using Class 387 trains.

Current services run by these trains are.

London Paddington And Didcot Parkway

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is two trains per hour (tph)
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Slough, Maidenhead, Twyford, Reading, Tilehurst, Pangbourne, Goring and Streatley and Cholsey.
  • Journey time is one hour twenty-three minutes, giving a three hour round trip.

I estimate that twelve trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service appears to run to a similar timetable.

London Paddington And Reading

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is two tph.
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Slough, Burnham, Maidenhead and Twyford
  • Journey time is fifty-seven minutes, giving a two and a half hour round trip.

I estimate that ten trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service will be run by TfL Rail using Class 345 trains.

Reading And Newbury

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is one tph.
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Reading West, Theale, Aldermaston, Midgham, Thatcham and Newbury Racecourse.
  • Journey time is  twenty-nine minutes, giving an hour round trip.

I estimate that two trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service appears to run to a similar timetable.

Current Trains Needed

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • London Paddington and Reading – ten trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.

This gives a total of twenty-four trains.

Trains Needed After 15th December 2019

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • London Paddington and Reading – no trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.

This gives a total of fourteen trains.

Heathrow Express

Heathrow Express will use twelve Class 387 trains in the near future.

Great Western Railway’s Future Need For Class 387 Trains

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.
  • Heathrow Express – twelve trains.

This gives a total of twenty-six trains.

Great Western Railway have a total of forty-five Class 387 trains. Wikipedia is a bit confusing on this point, but I’m fairly certain this is a correct figure.

This means that Great Western Railway have nineteen trains available for expansion of services.

Great Western Railway’s Class 769 Trains

Great Western Railway have also ordered nineteen dual-voltage bi-mode Class 769 trains.

These are for the following routes.

  • Reading – Redhill or Gatwick Airport
  • London Paddington – Reading and Oxford

As the spare number of Class 387 trains is the same as that of the bi-mode trains, was it originally intended, that these routes could be run by the Class 387 trains, after Network Rail had joined the electrification together.

But the extra electrification never happened.

So Great Western Railway ordered the bi-modes trains.

Great Western Railway’s Dilemma

The Class 769 trains appear to be running late, so Great Western Railway are running the Gatwick and Oxford services with diesel multiple units, that they’d like to send to the West Country.

Bombardier appear to have moved on with their battery technology, that was successfully trialled using a similar Class 379 train in 2015. I wrote about the possibility of battery Electrostars on the Uckfield Branch last month in Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch.

I believe that both routes would be within range of a battery-electric Class 387 train.

Reading – Redhill or Gatwick Airport

The various sections of the route are as follows.

Reading and Wokingham – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

Wokingham and Aldershot South Junction – Not electrified – 12 miles

Aldershot South Junction and Shalford Junction – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

Shalford Junction and Reigate – Not electrified – 17 miles

Reigate and Redhill/Gatwick – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

To my mind, this is a classic route for a battery-electric train, as it is mainly electrified and both gaps are less than twenty miles long.

Some or all of the Class 387 trains are dual-voltage.

London Paddington – Reading and Oxford

The distance between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is under twelve miles, so a return trip should be well within range of a battery-electric Class 387 train.

There are also plans at Oxford station to put a new bay platform on the London-bould side of the station. This could be fitted with a charging station to avoid any range anxiety.

A Gatwick And Oxford Service

Could the Oxford and Gatwick services be joined together to make a direct Oxford and Gatwick service via Reading?

  • I estimate that the service would take around two hours.
  • Assuming a fifteen minute turnround at both ends, a round trip would be four and a half hours.

Running a half-hourly service would need just nine trains.

Or eighteen, if they were to run as eight-car trains!

Could this explain the order for nineteen trains, as it’s always a good idea to have a spare?

Conclusion

Great Western Railway can dig themselves elegantly out of a hole of Network Rail’s making by converting the spare Class 387 trains to battery-electric trains.

I’m sure Bombardier have the design available and would be happy to oblige after they have  finished conversion of the Heathrow Express units.

There might also be an argument for fitting all Class 387 trains with batteries.

  • A more unified fleet.
  • Train recovery in the event of electrification failure.
  • Better safety in depots.
  • Direct services between Paddington and Henley and Bourne End.
  • Would it allow Class 387 trains to run between Paddington and Bedwyn?
  • Reduced electricity consumption.

It’ll be a decision for the accountants.

One collateral benefit of a successful conversion program for the Great Western Railway, is that it would enable Great Northern’s twenty-eight trains and c2c’s six trains to be easily converted to battery-electric versions.

  • Great Northern’s coulde be used by sister company; Southern on the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.
  • c2c trains are soon to be replaced by new trains.

I’m sure that quality four-car battery-electric trains won’t wait long for an operator.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Batteries For Bombardier Electrostars

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitle Bombardier And Leclanché Sign Battery Traction MoU.

This is the second paragraph.

According to Bombardier, Leclanché will deliver ‘imminently’ its first performance demonstrator battery systems, after which it will be in line to supply traction equipment worth in excess of €100m for use in more than 10 rolling stock projects.

In Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive, I investigated who was providing two large suitcase-sized batteries for Stadler’s new Class 93 locomotive.

In the related post, I said this about the batteries in the Class 93 locomotive, which I describe as a hybrid locomotive.

The Class 93 Locomotive Is Described As A Hybrid Locomotive

Much of the article is an interview with Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive Officer of Rail Operations (UK) Ltd, who have ordered ten Class 93 locomotives. He says this.

However, the Swiss manufacturer offered a solution involving involving an uprated diesel alternator set plus Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries.

Other information on the batteries includes.

  • The batteries are used in regenerative braking.
  • Batteries can be charged by the alternator or the pantoraph.
  • Each locomotive has two batteries slightly bigger than a large suitcase.

Nothing is said about the capacity of the batteries, but each could be say 200 litres in size.

I have looked up manufacturers of lithium-titanate batteries and there is a Swiss manufacturer of the batteries called Leclanche, which has this data sheet, that describes a LT30 Power cell 30Ah.

  • This small cell is 285 mm x 178.5 mm x 12 mm.
  • It has a storage capacity of 65 Wh
  • It has an expedited lifetime of greater than 15,000 cycles.
  • It has an energy density of 60 Wh/Kg or 135 Wh/litre

These cells can be built up into much larger batteries.

  • A large suitcase is 150 litres and this volume would hold 20 kWh and weigh 333 Kg.
  • A battery of 300 litres would hold 40 kWh. Is this a large Swiss suitcase?
  • A box 2.5 metres x 1 metre x 0.3 metres underneath a train would hold 100 kWh and weigh 1.7 tonnes

These batteries with their fast charge and discharge are almost like supercapacitors.

, It would appear that, if the large suitcase batteries are used the Class 93 locomotive will have an energy storage capacity of 80 kWh.

I wonder how many of these batteries can be placed under a Bombardier Eectrostar.

It looks rather cramped under there, but I’m sure Bombardier have the detailed drawings and some ideas for a bit of a shuffle about. For comparison, this is a selection of pictures of the underneath of the driver car of the new Class 710 trains, which are Aventras.

It looks like Bombardier have done a big tidy-up in changing from Electrostars to Aventras.

In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I came to the conclusion that Class 387 trains were the most likely trains to be converted for battery operation.

I also developed Excel spreadsheets that model the operation of battery trains on the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.

AshfordOre

HurstGreenUckfield

Feel free to download and examine.

Size Of Batteries Needed

My calculations in the two spreadsheets are based on the train needing 3 kWh per vehicle-mile to cruise between stations.

To handle the Uckfield Branch, it appears that 290.3 kWh is needed to go South and 310.3 kWh to go North.

I said this earlier.

A box 2.5 metres x 1 metre x 0.3 metres underneath a train would hold 100 kWh and weigh 1.7 tonnes.

So could we put some of these batteries under the train?

The Effect Of More Efficient Trains

My calculations  are based on the train needing 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, but what if the trains are more efficient and use less power?

  • 3 – 290.3 – 310.3
  • 2.5 – 242.6 – 262.6
  • 2 – 194.9 – 214.9
  • 1.5 – 147.2 – 167.2
  • 1 – 99.4 – 119.4

Note.

  1. The first figure is Southbound and the second figure is Northbound.
  2. More power is needed Northbound, as the train has to be accelerated out of Uckfield station on battery power.

The figures clearly show that the more efficient the train, the less battery capacity is needed.

I shall also provide figures for Ashford and Ore.

  • 3 – 288
  • 2.5 – 239.2
  • 2 – 190.4
  • 1.5 – 141.5
  • 1 – 92.7

Note that Westbound and Eastbound energy needs are the same, as both ends are electrified.

I obviously don’t know Bombardier’s plans, but if the train’s energy consumption could be reduced to around 2 kWh per vehicle-mile, a 250 kWh battery on the train would provide enough energy storage for both routes.

Could this be provided by two of Leclanche’s batteries designed to fit a space under the train?

These would be designed to provide perhaps 250 kWh.

What Would Be The Ultimate Range Of A Class 387 Train On Battery Power?

Suppose you have a four-car Class 387 train with 25 kWh of battery power that leaves an electrified station at 60 mph with a full battery.

How far would it go before it came to a lifeless stop?

The battery energy would be 250 kWh.

There would be 20 kWh of kinetic energy in the train.

Ranges with various average energy consumption in kWh per vehicle-mile are as follows.

  • 3 – 22.5 miles
  • 2.5 – 27 miles
  • 2 – 34 miles
  • 1.5 – 45 miles
  • 1 – 67.5 miles

Obviously, terrain, other traffic and the quality of the driving will effect the energy consumption.

But I do believe that a well-designed battery-electric train could easily handle a fifty mile electrification gap.

What Would Be The Rescue Range On One Battery?

One of the main reasons for putting batteries on an electrical multiple unit is to move the train to a safe place for passenger evacuation if the electrification should fail.

This week, there have been two electrification failures in London along, one of which was caused by a failing tree in the bad weather.

I’ll assume the following.

  • The train is a Class 387 train with one 125 kWh battery.
  • The battery is  ninety percent charged.
  • The train will be moved at 40 mph, which has a kinetic energy around 9 kWh.
  • The energy consumption of the train is 3 kWh per vehicle-mile.

The train will use 9 kWh to accelerate the train to line speed, leaving 116 kWh to move the train away from the problem.

With the energy consumption of 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, this would be a very useful 9.5 miles.

Regenerative Braking To Battery On Existing Trains

This has been talked about for the Class 378 trains on the London Overground.

Regenerative braking to batteries on the train, should cut energy use and would the battery help in train recovery from the Thames Tunnel?

What About Aventras?

Comparing the aerodynamics of an Electrostar like a Class 387 train with an Aventra like a Class 710 train, is like comparing a Transit van with a modern streamlined car.

Look at these pictures some of which are full frontal.

It should be noted that in one picture a Class 387 train is shown next to an InterCity 125. Did train designers forget the lessons learned by Terry Miller and his team at Derby.

I wonder how much electricity would be needed to power an Aventra with batteries on the Uckfield branch?

These are various parameters about a Class 387 train.

  • Empty Weight – 174.81 tonnes
  • Passengers – 283
  • Full Weight – 2003 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy at 60 mph – 20.0 kWh

And these are for a Class 710 train.

  • Empty Weight – 157.8 tonnes
  • Passengers – 700
  • Full Weight – 220.8 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy at 60 mph – 22.1 kWh

Note.

  1. The Aventra is twenty-seven tonnes lighter. But it doesn’t have a toilet and it does have simpler seating with no tables.
  2. The passenger weight is very significant.
  3. The full Aventra is heavier, due to the large number of passengers.
  4. There is very little difference in kinetic energy at a speed of 60 mph.

I have played with the model for some time and the most important factor in determining battery size is the energy consumption in terms of kWh per vehicle-mile. Important factors would include.

  • The aerodynamics of the nose of the train.
  • The turbulence generated by all the gubbins underneath the train and on the roof.
  • The energy requirements for train equipment like air-conditioing, lighting and doors.
  • The efficiency of the regenerative braking.

As an example of the improvement included in Aventras look at this picture of the roof of a Class 710 train.

This feature probably can’t be retrofitted, but I suspect many ideas from the Aventra can be applied to Electrostars to reduce their energy consumption.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bombardier push the energy consumption of an Electrostar with batteries towards the lower levels that must be possible with Aventras.

 

 

 

October 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch

In Rounding Up The Class 170 Trains, I said this, which is based on a quote from an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

Are Battery Electrostars On The Way?

The article finishes with this paragraph about the Class 171 trains, that will come from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and be converted back to Class 170 trains.

GTR currently uses the ‘171s’ on the non-electrified Marshlink and Uckfield lines, and the release of these sets to EMR is contingent on their replacement with converted Electrostar EMUs with bi-mode battery capability, removing these diesel islands of operation from the otherwise all-electric GTR fleet.

So are these battery Electrostars finally on their way?

The article got several comments, which said that some five-car Electrostars were to be converted and they would probably be Class 376 trains, that would be used.

The comments also said that Network Rail were working on using short lengths of third-rail to charge the train batteries.

That sounds like Vivarail’s system to me, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Southern’s Current Diesel Fleet

I will start by looking at Southern’s current diesel fleet that works London Bridge and Uckfield stations and the Marshlink Line.

Currently, Southern has a diesel fleet of Class 171 trains.

  • 12 x two-car trains
  • 8 x four-car trains.

According to Modern Railways, the following trains will transfer to EMR Regional in September 2021.

  • 10 x two car
  • 6 x three-car, which will be created by moving a few cars in the four-car trains.

It looks as if after the transfer Southern will be left with eight driver-cars and ten intermediate cars.

This would give them four four-car trains and two spare intermediate cars. I’m sure that someone will have a need for the intermediate cars to lengthen a two-car Class 170 train because of capacity issues.

The Marshlink Line Service

The service on the Marshlink Line is an hourly service between Ashford International and Eastbourne stations.

  • It is run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Trains were four-cars most times I’ve used it.
  • Journey times are around one hour and twenty-minutes.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three four-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if there is a spare train, four trains would be ideal, After all the transfers, this is the remaining number of Class 171 trains, that would be left with Southern.

If they wanyted to get rid of the diesel trains, then they could replace the trains on the Marshlink Line with four four-car battery bi-mode Electrostars!

Network Rail’s Plan For The Uckfield Branch

This document on the Network Rail web site from 2016, is entitled Delivering A Better Railway
For A Better Britain – Route Specifications 2016 – South East.

In the document, this is said about the the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield.

The key issue presently is overcrowding on the shorter length services that operate on the route during and close to the peak hours. As the route is operated by Class 171 diesel units, there is only a small fleet available to the TOC to deploy on the route. As a result some peak and shoulder peak services are not able to operate at the maximum length the route is capable of (8-car).

Electrification schemes in the North West will displace rolling stock to strengthen existing peak services to 8-car and eventually of 10-car operation during CP5, so associated platform lengthening is currently being developed, this will also be compatible with 12-car 20m vehicle trains.

Electrification is still an aspiration for this route or use of battery-powered trains (currently under development) if they are deemed successful.

Signalling is controlled by Oxted Signal Box but during CP5 this will be transferred to Three Bridges ROC.

The key point is that the platforms have been lengthened for 240-metre long trains, which will also allow ten-car Class 171 trains, which have 23 metre vehicles.

The Uckfield Branch Service

The service on the Uckfield Branch is an hourly service between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

  • It is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • The platforms on the route can accept ten-car trains with 23 m vehicles or twelve-car trains with 20 metre vehicles.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three ten- or twelve-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if we add in a spare and perhaps an extra train for the rush hour, it would appear that around half-a-dozen ten- or twelve-car battery bi-mode trains will be needed for the service.

  • As a ten-car train would be two five-car trains, twelve five-car trains would be needed.
  • As a twelve-car train would be three four-car trains, eighteen four-car trains would be needed.

Interestingly, Southern have three trains that could be candidates for conversion to battery bi-modes in their fleet.

  • One hundred and fifty-two four-car Class 377 trains.
  • Thirty-four five car Class 377 trains.
  • Twenty-nine four-car Class 387 trains.

All trains were built for longer commuter journeys,

Which Electrostars Will Be Converted To Battery Operation For The Uckfield Service?

Obviously, the trains must be four- or five-cars and suitable for conversion to battery bi-mode trains, but I feel they must have other features.

  • Toilets
  • First Class seats.
  • Plenty of tables.
  • Wi-fi and plug sockets.
  • Comfortable interiors.
  • End gangways, to ensure staff and passengers can move around the train if required.

I’ll now look at the various fleets of Electrostars.

Class 357 Trains

The Class 357 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect c2c need them and they are not third rail.

Class 375 Trains

The Class 375 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

But if the new Southeastern franchise should decide on a complete fleet replacement, as the trains are dual-voltage, they might be very useful if fitted with a battery capability.

Class 376 Trains

The Class 376 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

The trains are also third-rail only and lack toilets, so would probably need a rebuilt interior.

Class 377 Trains

The Class 377 trains are a possibility as Soiuthern has a large fleet of both four- and five-car trains.

But they would be losing the Class 171 trains, so would probably need to bring in some new trains to have a large enough fleet.

Class 378 Trains

The Class 378 trains can probably be discounted, as London Overground need them.

Class 379 Trains

The Class 379 trains are surely a possibility, as Greater Anglia will be releasing them before the end of 2020.

Consider.

  • There have no new home to go to.
  • I am suspicious that that NXEA overpaid for these trains and Macquarie are sitting on a very good deal, that will cost Grester Anglia a lot to cancel!
  • They appeared to me to be a shoe-in for Corby services, so perhaps they lost out to the Class 360 trains on cost.
  • They are only 100 mph trains, whereas others are 110 mph trains.
  • They would need to be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • The trains are coming up to nine years old and probably need a refresh.
  • They have an interior aimed at airport passengers.

If I was Macquarie, I’d convert these into go-anywhere battery bi-modes for use in small fleets by operators.

But, Porterbrook’s battery-bi-mode conversion of a Class 350 train may be available at a lower price.

Class 387 Trains

The Class 387 trains are surely a serious possibility, for the following reasons.

  • Govia already has fifty-six of these trains on lease and in service.
  • c2c has six trains, that could come off lease in 2021.
  • The trains are dual voltage
  • The trains are 110 mph trains.
  • They can run as twelve-car walk-through trains.
  • Many of the trains are leased from Porterbrook.

I’ve felt for some time, that these trains would make excellent battery bi-modes.

But they are a good fit for Southern, as surely one could be scrounged from their Great Northern fleet to create a prototype for test.

I would feel that having the required number of trains for the Uckfield Branch can be achieved by September 2021, when the Class 171 trains will be sent to the Midlands.

There is also a backstop, in that there are nineteen Class 365 trains in store, which were replaced by Class 387 trains on Great Northern services. If there is a shortage of Class 387 trains during the conversion, surely some of these Class 365 trains could stand in, just as they did successfully in Scotland recently.

My Choice

I would convert Class 387 trains.

  • There are quite a few Class 387 trains, that could be converted.
  • Southern already have fifty-six Class 387 trains.
  • There are enough to convert eighteen for Uckfield and four for the Marshlink
  • It could be possible to deliver the full fleet before the Class 171 trains leave.
  • If during conversion of the trains, they are short of stock, Southern can hire in some Class 365 trains.

It looks to be a low-risk project.

It will also have collateral benefits.

  • The hourly London Bridge and Uckfield service will be raised to maximum capacity without any new infrastructure, except the trains and a number of battery chargers.
  • Diesel will be eliminated in London Bridge station making the station electric trains only.
  • Diesel will be eliminated between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.
  • Efficient regenerative braking to battery would be available on the complete route.
  • A ten-car diesel service between East Croydon and London Bridge will be replaced by a twelve-car electric service. stations.

In addition, if the diesel trains on the Marshlink Line were to be replaced by battery bi-modes, Southern would be a diesel-free franchise.

What About New Trains?

It’s all about the money and whether the new trains could be delivered in time.

I would suspect that Bombardier, CAF, Stadler and others are making competitive proposals to Southern, but would they be more affordable and timely, than a conversion of Class 387 trains?

But could they be as competitive if Bombadier and Porterbrook co-operated to convert some of Porterbrook’s Class 387 trains, that are already leased to Great Northern?

You don’t usually move house if you need a new boiler, you replace the boiler!

What About Hydrogen Trains?

The Alstom Breeze based on a Class 321 train is scheduled to first come into service in 2022. This is too late, as the Class 171 trains are scheduled to leave in September 2021.

Hydrogen trains would need a hydrogen filling station.

Kinetic Energy Of Class 387 Trains

I will calculate the kinetic energy of a four-car Class 387 train.

I will assume the following.

  • Empty train weight – 174.81 tonnes – Read from the side of the train.
  • Seats – 223
  • Standees – 60 – Estimated from the seats/standing ratio of a Class 720 train.
  • Total passengers – 283
  • Each passenger weighs 90 Kg, with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a passenger weight of 25.47 tonnes and a train weight of 200.28 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy calculator, gives the following kinetic energies.

  • 40 mph – 8.89 kWh
  • 50 mph – 13.9 kWh
  • 60 mph – 20.0 kWh
  • 70 mph – 27.2 kWh
  • 80 mph – 35.6 kWh
  • 90 mph – 45.0 kWh
  • 100 mph – 55.6 kWh
  • 110 mph – 67.3 kWh

These figures are for a full train, but even so many will think they are low, when you think that 60 kWh batteries are used in hybrid buses.

A Trip To Uckfield

I took a trip to Uckfield today and these are my observations.

  • The maximum operating speed of the train was no more than 70 mph.
  • For much of the journey the train trundled along at around 40-50 mph.
  • The route is reasonably flat with only gentle gradients.
  • I hardly noticed the diesel engine under the floor of my car.
  • Obviously in the Peak, the engines will have to work harder.

It was a very good demonstration of five Turbostars working in unison.

I can understand why East Midlands Railway are using Class 170 trains, as their standard train for EMR Regional.

Modelling the Route

I have built a mathematical model of the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield using Excel.

Input parameters are.

  • Cruise Energy Consumption in kWh per vehicle mile. I assumed 3 kWh per vehicle mile
  • Cruise Kinetic Energy in kWh. I assumed a 70 mph cruise and used 20 kWh
  • Regeneration Energy Loss as a ratio. I assumed 0.15.

These parameters showed that a battery of between 290 kWh and 350 kWh would be needed, that was full at Hurst Green and was recharged at Uckfield.

Note that Vivarail are talking about putting 424 kWh under a three-car Class 230 train.

This page on the Vivarail web site is entitled Battery Train Update.

This is a paragraph.

Battery trains are not new but battery technology is – and Vivarail is leading the way in new and innovative ways to bring them into service. 230002 has a total of 4 battery rafts each with a capacity of 106 kWh and requires an 8 minute charge at each end of the journey. With a 10 minute charge this range is extended to 50 miles and battery technology is developing all the time so these distances will increase.

So it looks like Vivarail manage to put 212 kWh under each car of their two-car train.

I don’t think putting 350 kWh of batteries under a four-car Class 387 train would be impossible.

I have also created an Excel model for the second route between Ashford and Ore stations.

This shows that a battery of about 300 kWh on the train should cover the route.

It might appear strange that the longer Marshlink route needs a smaller battery, but this is because it leaves both ends of the route with a full battery.

These two links give access to the two Excel models that I have used. Feel free to  access and criticise them.

AshfordOre

HurstGreenUckfield

It does appear, that on both these routes, if a train starts with full batteries, the energy in the battery is reduced in these ways as it travels along the route.

  • There is an energy use to power the train along the line which is proportional to the vehicle-miles.
  • Energy is needed to accelerate the train to line speed after each stop.
  • Energy is needed to operate stop-related functions like opening and closing the doors.

But there will also be energy recovered from regenerative braking from line speed, although this won’t cover the subsequent acceleration.

I suspect with better understanding and better data, Bombardier can create a simple formula for battery size needed based on the following.

  • The length of the route.
  • The number of stations.
  • The line speed
  • The gradient and speed profile of the route
  • The kinetic energy of the train at various loadings and speeds
  • The amount of energy needed for each vehicle mile
  • The efficiency of the regenerative braking

It is not the most difficult of calculations and I was doing lots of them in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Charging The Train At Uckfield

This picture shows the long platform at Uckfield station.

The platform has been built to accept a twelve-car electric train and if traditional third rail electrification were to be installed, this could be used to charge the batteries.

I would use a Vivarail-style system, which I described fully in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

As trains take a few minutes at Uckfield to turnback, I’m sure enough time can be arranged in the timetable to charge the batteries with enough power to get back to the electrification at Hurst Green.

The train would switch the charging system on and off by automatically connecting and disconnecting.

 

 

 

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Rounding Up The Class 170 Trains

In an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, more details are given of the trains that will be used by EMR Regional, which will operate the regional services of East Midlands Railway.

EMR Regional will obtain Class 170 trains from various sources.

  • Five three-car from ScotRail
  • Twenty-three two-car from West Midlands Trains
  • Ten two-car and two three-car from Govia Thameslink Railway
  • Four three-car from Govia Thameslink Railway

Note

  1. Thirty-five trains are owned by Porterbrook, with the rest owned by Eversholt.
  2. There is some work to do to bring them, all to the same standard.
  3. It looks like the fleet will end up as something like eighteen three-car trains and fourteen two-car trains.

They will be a great improvement to the trains that currently run the service.

But they could be a better improvement, if the powertrain were to be upgraded to a modern hybrid one!

Porterbrook, who own the largest proportion of these Class 170 trains, are converting some to hybrid drive, using an MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

I talk about the conversion in Looking At The Mathematics Of A Class 170 Train With An MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

So will some or all of these trains be converted?

Thst’s one for the engineers, the accountants and the environmentalists!

Are Battery Electrostars On The Way?

The article finishes with this paragraph about the Class 171 trains, that will come from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and be converted back to Class 170 trains.

GTR currently uses the ‘171s’ on the non-electrified Marshlink and Uckfield lines, and the release of these sets to EMR is contingent on their replacement with converted Electrostar EMUs with bi-mode battery capability, removing these diesel islands of operation from the otherwise all-electric GTR fleet.

So are these battery Electrostars finally on their way?

 

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 8 Comments

The Design Of The Class 378 Trains Keeps The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Running

In some ways, London Overground’s Class 378 trains are the ultimate Electrostars.

These ten-year-old trains are  no high-performance trains, but they are people carriers par excellence.

Wikipedia describes their interiors like this.

The design is similar to the Class 376 trains used by Southeastern, featuring the same wider metro-style sliding pocket doors for more efficient boarding and alighting. However, it also has significant differences from the Class 376, such as fully longitudinal seating similar to that used on London Underground rolling stock to give more standing and less seating capacity and reduce overcrowding, suitable for the high-volume metro-style services on London Overground.

This picture shows a view through the five cars of a standard-length train.

At the present time they are the only heavy rail train with this seating layout. Although London Overground will soon be running some Class 710 trains with a similar layout.

  • The seats are reasonably comfortable.
  • All passengers get at least one arm-rest.
  • Passengers can walk between cars to find a seat or more space.
  • The aisle between the seats is wide enough for passengers to stretch their legs and others to walk through, when all seats are taken.
  • There’s plenty of space for standees and lots of handholds.
  • In less busy times, everybody gets at least one seat.

There are also wide lobbies and doors for easy embarking and alighting.

Note the perches either side of the door and the numerous handholds.

In my travels across Europe, I’ve never found a better inner-city commuter train.

To run a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, ideally eight trains are needed; six to run the service, one in maintenance and a spare.

But all London Overground can scrape together is three Class 378 trains shortened to four-cars.

  • This limited number of trains can only run a two tph service.
  • The four-car Class 378 trains have 152 seats (including tip-up seats) and thirty-two double perch seats.
  • The two-car Class 172 trains have 124 seats.

This gives these seats per hour for the two services.

  • Class 172 trains – four tph – 496
  • Class 378 trains – two tph – 432

The Class 378 trains may offer less seats, but each four-car train can hold a lot of standees.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled London Overground Class 378 Ready To Enter Service, says that four-car versions of Class 378 trains can hold up to 700 passengers.

If you’ve ever travelled on the East and North London Lines around Dalston in the Peak, you’ll know how many people these trains can hold at a push!

Since the two tph service started yesterday I’ve done several trips on the Gospel Oak to Baring Line over two days.

  • 09:20 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 10:33 – Barking to Blackhorse Road
  • 14:27 – Harringay Green Lanes to Gospel Oak
  • 14:50 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 15:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak
  • 07:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak

Only the last trip can really be considered to be in the Peak.

I have the following observations on the Off Peak trips.

  • There were typically at least twenty per cent of seats available.
  • No-one was ever forced to stand, although some were.
  • A proportion of passengers were doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Some stops like Crouch Hill, Blackhorse Road and Leyton Midland Road seemed to have more passenger traffic than others.
  • The trains had more passengers towards the Barking end of the route.
  • I asked a few passengers, if they’d had to wait long and all said, they’d read the timetable and arrived accordingly.
  • The usual accessories like dogs, buggies and baggage were carried by a proportion of passengers.
  • Two station staff said passengers were only complaining about the frequency.

It appears to me, that Off Peak journeys on the route will be adequate if not as frequent as passengers want.

I have the following observations for the single Peak journey at 07:33 this morning.

  • Nearly all seats were taken for the whole route.
  • Dwell times were slowed at certain stations, due to the numbers wanting to enter and alight.
  • All standees had a decent hand-hold.
  • Some passengers were still doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Blackhorse Road with its connection to the Victoria Line was busy.
  • A staff member told me, that it all gets less busy after eight o’clock.

I should also say, that one passenger was complaining hard, as he had to stand for his short journey from Crouch Hill to Gospel Oak. But then he was dressed like he would pay for a First Class seat.

On arrival at Gospel Oak, I took a North London Line train to Hampstead Heath and that was carrying more passengers per car.. This added a perspective to the trip.

But then, in my part of London, at times, there are more overcrowded trains that I use regularly.

  • The Central, Victoria and Northern Lines on the Underground.
  • The North and East London Lines of the Overground.
  • The Northern City Line into Moorgate station.

Today’s Peak trip was no worse, than some I’ve experienced in the North of England.

Conclusion

The three gallant Class 378 trains are coping well and if they don’t suffer any failures, I suspect they can hold the line, until reinforcements arrive.

My trip today, illustrated the strengths of the train design as a large number of passengers were transported in a half-hour journey across North London.

Bombardier must also be pleased that it is three of their ten year-old-trains, that have been quickly reconfigured and have made up for their software shortcomings, that are causing late delivery of the Class 710 trains.

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Porterbrook Awards £11m Contract To Modify New Digital Heathrow Express Fleet

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Porterbrook has unveiled a £11m contract with Bombardier to modify 12 Class 387 trains in preparation for their use on the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted ‘Electrostar’ trains currently operate on London commuter services for GWR but will now form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet of electric multiple-units.

As other Class 387 trains are used on Gatwick Express, I’m sure that the trains will end up as some of the best airport expresses in the world.

But I feel that this is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The deal will also see the company fit digital signalling equipment, called ETCS, to the Class 387s – the first-time digital signalling will have been fitted on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains and will result in ‘type approval’ from the ORR which will enable ETCS to be fitted on all Electrostar fleets.

Fitting ETCS to the Heathrow Express trains will have several benefits.

More Trains Between Paddington And Reading

With the refurbishment of the Class 387 trains for the Heathrow Express, there will only be three types of trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

  • Class 387 trains
  • Class 800/801/802 trains
  • Class 345 trains

Within a few years, all of these trains will be able to use ETCS and the benefits will be more trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

The trains would probably be a few minutes faster too!

All Electrostars Will Be Able To Be Updated With Digital Signalling

If the digital signalling works for the Class 387 trains, it would appear that it could be fitted to all the other Electrostars.

This could be very significant, as several busy lines have a high proportion of Electrostars.

These are my thoughts on some lines.

Brighton Main Line

The trains working the Brighton Main Line include.

  • Gatwick Express’s Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are already using ETCS.
  • Southern’s Electrostars.

Could we see digital signalling increase the capacity of this line.

East London Line

The East London Line is an all-Electrostar line and in the next few years, with the coming of Crossrail, it will probably need more services.

I suspect it will be using digital signalling and ETCS in a few years time.

North And West London Lines

If the East London Line were to be successfully signalled to bring capacity benefits, I could see the North London and West London Lines following suit.

The Class 710 trains, that will be boosting passenger capacity are Aventras and will be compatible with digital signalling. The freight locomotives are also being upgraded to digital signalling.

c2c

In a few years time, c2c will be using only Electrostars and Aventras! So why not use digital signalling?

As more new trains arrive with digital signalling, more lines will be converted to digital signalling and ETCS.

Conclusion

The updating of twelve Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express is a big step in the creation of a digital railway.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Dwell Times And End Doors

Chris Stokes finishes his column in the January 2019 Edition of  Modern Railways, with this paragraph.

Dwell times remain critical too. The new TransPennine units provide more seats, but have single end doors. For an operation with high numbers joining and alighting at many stops, dwell times are going to increase significantly at stations such as Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, Boltonand Preston, chewing up any savings in running times, and exacerbating the problems at platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly.

I haven’t seen a TransPennine Mark 5A coach in the flesh yet, but I’ve seen several pictures, which show each coach has single end doors.

This  picture of the 100 mph Class 755 train shows the door layout is totally different.

It looks like it has a single double door on each coach.

It appears that the electric Class 745 trains have more doors.

If you look at a typical Bombardier Aventra or Electrostar, Stadler Flirt or Siemens Desiro City, there are generally no end doors.

Have CAF commited a design crime of the highest order?

Or is it TransPennine’s fault?

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment