The Anonymous Widower

Saving Fuel In Rail Vehicles

The title of this post is the same as this page on the web site of a company called Artemis Intelligent Power.

The first paragraph sums up the project and the participants.

Since 2013, Artemis has been proud to work with leading companies Ricardo and Bombardier on the project ‘Digital Displacement® Rail Transmission with Flywheel Energy Storage’ which has been supported by the government funding body Innovate UK.

So who are the players, mentioned in this paragraph.

  • Artemis Intelligent Power, is a company that has been spun out of Edinburgh University, that is now owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. In 2015, the company won a MacRobert Award, which is regarded as the leading prize recognising UK innovation in engineering.
  • Ricardo is one of those companies, that have shaped our lives, but few people have ever heard of. At some time most of us would have driven a diesel car, where the engine has been designed around patents or ideas from Ricardo.
  • Bombardier in the UK are best known for the trains they build in Derby.
  • Innovate UK is the UK Government’s innovation agency.

I think it is true to say, that these players wouldn’t be short of ideas, engineering knowledge and resources, including money.

This second paragraph, describes in simple details, what they aim to achieve.

The system is based on the use of Artemis Digital Displacement® pump-motors to capture braking energy from diesel multiple unit (DMU) rail cars, store it in high tech Ricardo flywheels and then use it to displace diesel fuel during vehicle acceleration. Such energy recovery is commonplace on modern electric trains but there is general agreement in the rail industry that are many routes where electrification is unlikely ever to make economic sense.

There is also a press release from Ricardo, which has this title Significant fuel savings and rapid payback shown for rail flywheel hybrid technology.

The project has a name of DDFlyTrain and searching for this word, found this article in the Railway Gazette, which gives more details. These are the last two paragraphs of the article.

The delivery of the flywheel will now enable the assembly of a test rig for laboratory verification trials. Ricardo said its latest flywheel represents a significant advance on products available two years ago, drawing on research undertaken for Formula 1 cars. The flywheel spins in a permanent vacuum to reduce energy losses, with transmission by a magnetic gear system which does not require rotating seals or vacuum pumps The flywheel will be mated with Artemis’ Digital Displacement hydraulic transmission technology, which combines mechanical electric and software elements to facilitate efficient operation despite the varying speeds and loadings of a rail environment.

There are currently no firm plans for installation on a real trainset, but this could be undertaken in the future following laboratory tests.

I shall be searching for DDFlyTrain.

Conclusion

Artemis Intelligent Power and Ricardo have developed some very advanced technology.

The News page on the Artemis IP web site, details some varied applications for their technology in the fields of wave power, excavators, diesel railcar transmissions and wind power.

Ricardo’s flywheel has the name of TorqStor and looks to have potential in other applications.

Could we be seeing a larger version of Torqstor in Electrical Multiple Units, like the new Aventra?

With technology companies like Ricardo and Artemis IP, you never know what is possible, until it has been done!

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Class 345 Trains And Regenerative Braking

Bombardier don’t seem to talk much about regenerative braking on Class 345 trains.

In the Wikipedia entry for the train, there is a section called Background And Specifications. This is the first paragraph.

In 2008, the UK government’s rolling stock plan stated a requirement for around 600 carriages for Crossrail, expected to be similar in design to the Thameslink rolling stock, to meet the design improvement requirements of the 2007 ‘Rail Technical Strategy’ (RTS), including in-cab signalling/communication including satellite and ERTMS level 3 technologies, regenerative braking, low cost of operation and high reliability, with low weight and high acceleration.

Perhaps Bombardier aren’t letting on how they achieve efficient braking of the trains.

One thing I proved today, was that the trains have no give away electric fires on the roof, where braking energy is traditionally dissipated.

This bad picture was taken through safety netting at Forest Gate station.

The roof is mainly-smooth with just grills for the air-conditioning and ventilation.

There certainly wasn’t any electric fires on the roof!

So does the braking energy get stored on the train for reuse?

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

An Exciting New Aventra

The title of this post is the title of an article in Rail Engineer.

It is actually dated the 31st of January 2014, so you might think it is out of date.

But surely, with the first Aventras appearing in service, now is the time to revisit.

I found the article this morning by accident and it is a fascinating read, Especially when you consider the article was written before the train had received any orders. Bombardier had actually just missed out on the Thameslink order, which resulted in the Class 700 trains.

A Blank Sheet Of Paper

The loss of the Thameslink order allowed Bombardier to start from scratch.

This paragraph indicates one of their start points.

And then we looked at it and thought we’ve also got depot engineers from Strathclyde to Surrey, all over the place, all looking after these trains in the field. How are they performing? Is there something we can do better there?

As the article says Aventra was reborn after Thameslink!

They also talked extensively to possible customers.

Suppliers

Suppliers were invited on board and given space with the design team in a new Design Office in Derby.

This paragraph described how everyone worked together.

We basically started from scratch, and in a completely different way. It isn’t engineering-led any more. It’s a joint collaboration of our depot people, our manufacturing guys, procurement and engineering.

I would describe it as a project-led structure similar to one that ICI used to use in the 1960s.

I wrote my first scheduling program to allocate the office space needed.

A Modular Approach For The Future

Each Electrostar had been different to the previous, but this sums up the Aventra philosophy.

Aventra will be a single modular product, capable of being easily modified for different applications but in each case referring back to the core design. So whether the actual class will be a 90mph metro train or a 125mph main-line express, it will have the same systems and components as its basis. In fact, Jon thinks that the distinctions are becoming blurred anyway.

They had looked forward ten years.

Away From The Wires

Aventra will be an electric train, but what happens, when the wires run out?

This was their solution.

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

I rode the prototype in public service in January 2015!

I was totally convinced that Bombardier’s battery trains have not even the smallest touch of Mickey Mouse!

Although the experience was magical!

Bombardier’s Iron Bird

Bombardier have borrowed the Iron Bird concept from the plane-makers.

This is an extract.

A leaf has been taken out of the aircraft designers’ handbook. They use something termed an Iron Bird – basically an aeroplane without wings – to test new systems.

Bombardier’s Iron Bird is a train without bogies. However, it does contain control systems, wiring looms and other bits of kit and it is being assembled at Derby.

I think that this shows, that they are not against borrowing other concepts from other industries.

The Most Affordable Train

The article describes how the train was designed to give the best whole life cost.

This sentence sums up the philosophy.

It’s actually about a 50/50 split between the whole life cost and the first capital cost. That makes it a bit more difficult because we’ve got be competitive on the first practical cost, but additionally we have to offer a really high availability, strong reliability, combined with much better energy consumption and less track damage.

As someone, who used to own a finance company, that leased trucks and other expensive equipment, the product described is the sort of product that leasing companies love. If the train is economical to run, if the first train operating company goes bust, you’ll still have an asset that other train operating companies will fight over.

Trains are also a predictable long-term investment, as well-built efficient trains have a thirty or forty year lifetime.

In my view the big winner of a train like this is the manufacturer, as they’ll get happy owners, train operating companies and passengers, which must lead to repeat orders.

Conclusion

I’ve never ridden a more well-designed, comfortable, smooth and quiet suburban electric train, than the Class 345 train in trial service on the Shenfield Metro, anywhere in the UK or Europe.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is Happening To The Greenford Branch?

It appears to me, that the Greenford Branch Line has been quietly shunted into a siding, as it has been some months since any statements of any worth have come from the Department of Transport, Transport for London, Great Western Raiiway or Network Rail.

The line now gets a two trains per hour  shuttle service between Greenford and West Ealing stations. Trains that use the branch line to don’t go to Paddington any more.

West Ealing station is being rebuilt and looks like it won’t be complete for a couple of years.

This article on City AM is entitled Ealing Council seeks ‘urgent clarity’ over five delayed Crossrail stations as Network Rail retenders contracts to save money, which says a lot and may even explain, why nothing has been decided about the future of this branch line.

Current Speculation And Rumours

Various reports and forums outline solutions that suggest or include the following.

  • It is probably not the easiest line operationally, as the train has to be stabled some distance away.
  • Four trains per hour.
  • Transfer of the line to the Overground.
  • Run a shuttle from High Wycombe to West Ealing.
  • Use London Overground’s Class 172 trains, when the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is electrified.

But there are a few problems.

  • The incomplete West Ealing station.
  • The platform at Greenford is rather short.
  • Electrification would be difficult.

I hope all the silence is because the DfT, TfL, GWR, Network Rail and perhaps a train manufacturer are working hard to create an innovative solution for short branch lines like the Greenford Branch.

London’s Other Branches

London has two other short branch lines, that currently carry passengers.

Both are electrified and are run by a four-car shuttle using a bog-standard electric multiple unit.

But I doubt, they are some of most profitable routes in London.

In one forum, it was suggested that London Overground might use the Romford to Upminster Line for driving training on the new Class 710 trains.

In addition, there is the Brentford Branch Line, which has been proposed for reopening.

The Marlow Branch Line

I’m including the Marlow Branch Line, as according to the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Network Rail have devised an innovative track layout for Bourne End station, that will allow trains to pass in the station and thus allow at least a two trains per hour service all day.

Modern Railways says  this about financing the new track layout at Bourne End.

The LEP has allocated £1.5million to the infrastructure change needed to accommodate this proposal and GWR is seeking to close the funding gap on it.

There is also an informative diagram.

This Google Map shows Bourne End station.

 

Note how a two-car Class 165 train is parked in the station with lots of space. These trains have two 23 metre long cars, so it would appear that a three-car train with possibly shorter length cars could be accommodated.

I wonder what is the maximum length train that the design team are working with.

Two three-car trains per hour would be a tripling of capacity over the current single two-car train per hour at present.

This innovative proposal certainly looks like one, that has a high chance of realisation.

Other Branch Lines

The UK probably has several short branch lines, with a similar profile to the Bromley North, Greenford and Marlow Lines, where often the service is inadequate or expensive and difficult to provide.

A Train For Branch Lines

Would it be possible to create a train using existing stock, that was ideal for these lines?

Vivarail with their Class 230 train have attempted to do this.

  • Two or three cars.
  • Diesel-electric or battery power.
  • Designed to be serviced remotely.

It may turn out to be a high-class and reliable train, but there may be operational and marketing disadvantages, due to the train’s London Underground history.

But it is certainly a possibility.

Otherwise it is probably necessary to carry on as before with a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But at least, London Overground will be releasing eight Class 172 trains in Spring 2018.

The Unconventional Solution

Although two or three-car diesel multiple units will serve these branches well, I just wonder whether applying the same thinking that led to the Class 319 Flex train could produce a much better solution.

In their brochure for the train, Porterbrook state that they are thinking of adding a battery option to the train. The electrical layout of the Class 319 train leads me to believe it is certainly possible.

These branch lines are not arduous, so why not do the following.

  • Replace one diesel power-pack of the Class 319 Flex train with a battery pack.
  • Remove the trailer car to create a three-car train.
  • Give the trains a good refurbished interior.

Note.

  1. A three-car train would probably not be a 100 mph train.
  2. A three-car Class 319 Flex train would only be fourteen metres longer than a two-car Class 165 train.
  3. Several similar four-car Class 321 trains have been converted to three-car Class 320 trains.
  4. Being able to run on electrified lines would ease operation, open up new services and charge the batteries.

I feel that having both diesel and battery power for working away from electrified lines would give the trains a high degree of reliability.

These trains could certainly work the Brentford, Greenford, Marlow and Windsor Branches.

The Bombardier Solution

In Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, I mused about this statement, after reading this article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. Marc Phillips of Bombardier is quoted as saying this in the article.

All Electrostars to some degree can be retrofitted with batteries. We are talking the newer generation EMU as well as the older generation. So, the 387s and 378s are the ones where we have re-gen braking where we can top-up the batteries and use the braking energy to charge the batteries. That gives us the best cost-benefit over operational life.

So it would seem that the Class 378 trains of the London Overground are candidates for fitting with batteries.

These trains started out with just three cars and have grown twice, by adding another motor car and a trailer car. So they are now five-car trains.

London Overground have said that they might lengthen the trains again to six cars.

I would suspect that Bombardier can play musical carriages and create, some six-car trains and a few three-car trains.

Fit batteries to the three-car trains and you have a battery-powered train for a short branch line, that starts in an electrified station.

Services on the Brentford, Greenford and Marlow branches could probably be run by these three-car battery-electric trains.

If the Class 378 train is too spartan, then there is always other Electrostars.

Just remember, that 4 + 4 = 5 + 3!

Conclusion

Don’t be surprised to see an innovative solution at Greenford.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bombardier On Track For Record Sale Of New Aventra Trains

The title of this post is the same as the title of this article in the Daily Telegraph.

This is the last paragraph.

Aventra trains use energy efficient measures such as regenerative braking, which collects energy generated by the trains slowing down and stores it for later use. They will also offer wifi, and USB sockets in seats.

Does that mean that the trains are fitted with energy storage or in simple terms; batteries.

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

GOBLIN Electrification On Track For January 2018 Completion

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

This is said.

Network Rail has this week confirmed that the GOBLIN electrification project is expected to be completed in January 2018 ahead of new trains arriving in spring.

About time too!

In An Open Letter To All Those Along The Gospel Oak To Barking Line, I called for an alternative approach. Seeing what might happen in Aukland, that I wrote about in Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order,

I do wonder if there would have been a better way. This article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Flex… and flexibility and consists of an interview with Helen Simpson and Mark Isbern of Porterbrook. It gives lots of clues to the thinking behind the Class 319 Fklex train.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Battery EMUs For Merseyrail

The title of this post is the same as an article in the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Two of the new EMUs Stadler will build for the Merseyrail network will be fitted with batteries.

This is also said.

The initial benefits of the trial will be the energy recycling properties of the batteries, but with a larger battery the option could be to run the units away from the electrified Merseyrail network using battery power.

Other reports suggest that battery power could move the trains in depots.

Another report in the same edition of Modern Railways is entitled Class 769s For Wales.

It discusses the use of Class 769 trains on the Borderlands Line.

This is said.

Would safety regulations permit Class 769s, or other third-rail EMUs retrofitted with diesel engines, to operate the Wrexhm-Bidston Line and continue in the Mersey tunnels to Liverpool?

It is an interesting concept, which according to the magazine, studies have predicted would fuel large growth in passenger numbers, if the change of trains at Bidston were eliminated.

I suspect this is a problem, where Formula One designers may have a serious input.

Conclusion

It is encouraging to see in these two articles signs of radical but in my view totally sound thinking.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rolling Stock Leaser Beacon Rail Acquires 78-Train Fleet

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News. This is the first paragraph.

European rolling stock leaser Beacon Rail has acquired the 352-vehicle fleet of Bombardier Class 220 and Class 221 Voyager’s from subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The diesel-electric multiple units are currently in passenger service on the Virgin West Coast and the Arriva Cross Country franchises.

Is it just a tidying up by two banks of their asset portfolios or is there something more behind the transaction?

Beacon Rail Leasing is a ROSCO  or specialist train leasing company and this is their mission statement.

The Mission of Beacon Rail Leasing is to be the leading provider of high utility rolling stock to the Pan-European operator base. Management’s goal is to provide the company’s equity investors with superior returns by being the best managed and most efficiently operated rail operating lease company in the Pan-European Market.

So do they have a long-term plan for these trains?

In Modern Trains From Old, I write about three articles in the February 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is a relevant extract from the previous post.

Bi-Modus Operandi

This is the title of an article by Ian Walmsley in the magazine, who makes the case for adding an extra coach with a pantograph to the Class 220, 221 and 222 and effectively creating a bi-mode train.

The idea is not new and I wrote about it in The Part-Time Electric Train, after a long editorial comment in Modern Railways in 2010.

If anything, the case for convcersion is even better now, as quality high-speed bi-mode trains are desperately needed.

As the article suggests, they could sort out some of the other problems with the trains.

There are quite a few suitable trains.

  • Class 220 trains – 34 trains of four cars.
  • Class 221 trains – 43 trains of a mix of four and five cars.
  • Class 222 trains – 27 trains of a mix of four, five and seven cars.

All are 125 mph trains.

ROSCOs are always looking for innovative ways to make money.

So perhaps Beacon have got together with Eversholt Rail Group, who are the owner of the Class 222 trains and Bombardier, the manufacturer of all three classes of trains to create a series of affordable 125 mph bi-mode trains.

I have no idea if these trains will be updated, but on the 20th of July, this document, which is entitled Rail update: bi-mode train technology, was published by the Department of Transport.

This is said about the new East Midlands franchise.

The next operator will be required to deliver modern, fast and efficient trains. This includes a brand new fleet of bi-mode intercity trains from 2022, delivering more seats and comfort for long-distance passengers. The provision of these trains will replace plans to electrify the line north of Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, improving journeys sooner, without the need for wires and masts on the whole route, and causing less disruption to services. We do not intend to proceed with plans to electrify the line from Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, and there will be further investment to come to ensure Sheffield is HS2-ready.

Ian Walmsley’s proposal of adding an extra coach, wouldn’t deliver brand-new bi-mode intercity trains, but it could deliver refurbished Class 222 trains with the following characteristics for the new East Midlands franchise.

  • More seats in one or more extra carriages.
  • One extra carriage would have an automatic pantograph to access the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Trains could probably be any length from five-cars upwards, that the operatir wanted.
  • Refurbished interiors.
  • Wi-fi, 4G and power sockets.
  • Ability to run on electricity South of Kettering.
  • Diesel power North of Kettering
  • Update the current rheostatic to regenerative braking using energy storage in both electric and diesel mode.
  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • A modern and efficient electrical and control system.

Note.

  1. I suspect that some features and equipment from the new Aventra would be incorporated.
  2. The trains might cost a bit more to lease, but they would generate more revenue and ultimately profits.
  3. But the biggest advantage of going this route, is that the concept can be tested by building a single carriage and inserting it into a refurbished test train.
  4. After the concept is proven and a go-ahead is given, trains could be built steadily. It should also be said that Bombardier did a superb job in lengthening London Overground’s Class 378 trains twice!
  5. An efficient control system could reduce the amount of time the diesel engines were running.

Similar conversions could be performed on the Class 220 and Class 221 trains.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see what happens.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order

The title of this post is the title of this article on the International Railway Journal.

This is the first paragraph.

Auckland Council is expected to decide next week whether to proceed with an order for 17 battery-electric multiple units, which would replace DMUs on services on suburban services to Pukekohe.

The trains are being offered by CAF and are designed to work the Southern Line between Britomart Transport Centre in Auckland and Pukekohe.

The route is in two sections.

  • From Britomart to Papakura is electrified at 25 KVAC.
  • From Papakura to Pukekohe is run by a diesel shuttle.

The diesel shuttle runs over a distance of 18.38 km.

The plan would appear to be for the new trains to run as follows.

  • To Papakura using the current electrification, charging the battery as they travelled.
  • At Papakura they would switch to battery power for the shuttle to Pukekohe.
  • On return to Papakura, they would switch back  to the electrification and return to Auckland.

This would be a distance of 36.76 km. or just under twenty-three miles.

Conclusion

I think that this proposal is very significant.

CAF have put their money where their mouth is in this proposal, as if the trains couldn’t fulfil the requirements, it would be Spanish omelettes all over the place.

From the picture in the article on the International Railway Journal, it would appear that the offered trains are a version of the Civity train, which is being supplied to Northern as Class 331 trains.

A 23 mile battery range would be handy, as it could probably handle the Windermere Branch from Oxenholme.

 

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Electricity Shake-Up Could Save Consumers ‘up to £40bn’

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

The electricity shake-up was forecast in yesterday’s Sunday Times and I wrote about it in Giant Batteries To Store Green Energy.

In We Need More Electricity, I talked about what RWE are doing to create an all-purpose Energy Centre at Tilbury.

The Tilbury Energy Centre will feature.

  • Efficient energy generation from natural gas.
  • Substantial energy storage.
  • Peak energy production from natural gas.
  • Load balancing of wind power with storage and generation from natural gas.

But I suspect, it will get involved in other advanced techniques, like using carbon dioxide to get greenhouse fruit and vegetables to grow quicker.

The electricity market is changing.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | News, World | , , , | Leave a comment