The Anonymous Widower

Eversholt Rail And Vivarail To Develop Class 321 BEMU

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Eversholt Rail.

These three paragraphs introduce the project.

Eversholt Rail and Vivarail have signed an agreement aimed at developing battery power – and range extension – to the Class 321 ‘Renatus’ fleet.

The 30 unit ‘Renatus’ fleet is a product of £65m investment in AC traction, air conditioning and upgraded interior. Completed in 2019, it provides a high-quality passenger experience, proven reliability in intensive operations and is widely compatible on the UK network. This fleet is currently operating on the Greater Anglia network until the introduction of their new trains is completed.

Eversholt Rail and Vivarail are committed to supporting the UK Government’s ambition to decarbonise its rail sector by 2050, and the Scottish Government’s objective of doing so by 2035. This proven and reliable fleet is an excellent fit in terms of characteristics, fleet size and availability for conversion to a Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU). Vivarail, as the designers and manufacturers of the UK’s only battery and hybrid trains currently in passenger service are well positioned to progress this development.

This paragraph talks about the design objectives.

We will be working together to develop a design to integrate battery technology to provide between 20 to 30 miles of self-propulsion. Enabling the fleet to operate on non-electrified or partly electrified routes would offer the opportunity to increase the range of modern, low-carbon options to accommodate passenger demand; to enable fleet cascades; to improve the passenger experience; and to bring air quality and decarbonisation benefits to local areas.

I have a few thoughts on what I have read so far.

Vivarail’s Technology

In Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway, I talked about a ride in the battery version of Vivarail’s Class 230 train.

The train impressed me, as it did others that day.

I know that the train is late on being introduced on the Borderlands Line in Wales, but then all bi-mode or tri-mode trains seem to be having software problems.

In D-Train Order For Marston Vale Confirmed, I talked about the technicalities of Vivarail’s battery train.

Battery Prototype

The article also gives more details of the battery prototype.

  • The train has four battery rafts, each with a capacity of 106 kWh
  • Range is up to fifty miles with a ten minute charge at each end of the journey.
  • Range will increase as battery technology improves.
  • The train is charged using a patented automatic charging point.
  • The batteries will have a seven-year lifespan, backed by a full warranty.
  • Battery rafts would appear to be interchangeable with the diesel generators.
  • Hydrogen power will be used within the next few years.

The specification seems comprehensive and it would appear there is a high degree of innovative automation and well-thought-out electrical engineering.

Train Energy Consumption

The train has the following characteristics.

  • Two cars
  • 424 kWh of battery capacity.
  • 50 mile range

This gives a consumption 4.24 kWh/per car/per mile.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is probably not much more taxing than the Marston Vale Line.

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

I am surprised that the Class 230 train lies in the 3-5 kWh range, but then I’m not sure of the weights of the two trains.

I estimate two-car units to weigh as follows.

  • Class 230 train plus batteries – Around 50 tonnes.
  • Electrostar – Around 90 tonnes
  • Aventra – Around 80 tonnes

I shall get some better figures, when I actually see the trains, as the weight is on the side.

Note.

I should say, that I have met some of Vivarail’s designers and I have been impressed.

They were also very complimentary about the D78 Stock, where it appears no expense was spared by Transport for London to keep them up to scratch.

I will apply Ian Walmsley’s rule in the extract to the Class 321 train.

  • Four cars
  • Thirty miles
  • As the Class 321 Renatus has a modern traction system, I’ll assume it is efficient and uses 3 kWh per vehicle mile for a gentle short branch line.
  • These figures would need a 360 kWh battery.

If the consumption was 5 kWh per vehicle mile, it would be a 600 kWh battery.

Under Train Space

There is plenty of space under a Class 321 train, as these pictures show.

My design would see a battery under each car, if that were possible to even out the weight.

The Renatus Interior

These pictures show the Renatus train and interior.

Not bad for a train approaching its mid-thirties.

Will The Train Have Third-Rail Shoe Gear?

I have read the technical documents for Porterbrook’s Class 769 train, which this is based on the Class 319 train.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 319 train, this is said,

Class 321 passenger units and Class 325 postal units were developed from the Class 319 design, using similar traction equipment and the same steel body design, with revised cab designs. The 325 units used a Networker style cab design.

It looks like except for cosmetic differences in the drivers cab, the Class 319, Class 321 and Class 325 trains are identical under the skin.

Does this mean that like the Class 319 train, Class 321 trains can be fitted with third-rail shoes?

It should be noted, that if the trains can be fitted with third-rail shoes, then Vivarail’s Fast Charge system can be used to charge the train.

Could Other Trains Be Converted?

It certainly looks like in addition to the Class 321 trains, both the Class 319 and Class 325 trains can be converted to battery-electric power.

These three trains are all members of British Rail’s Mark 3 family, which were designed before computers were used in structural design to be able to withstand the force of a twenty-four tonne cement truck falling on them from a bridge. On the 5th of November 2010, this nightmare scenario happened in the Oxshott Rail Accident and no-one was killed.

So to avoid the scrapyard, trains based on the Mark 3 coach, like the Class 320, Class 322, Class 455 and Class 456 trains will be happy to sign up to the Eversholt Rail and Vivarail conversion process.

  • The Class 320 trains are three-cars, so would offer another type of train.
  • The Class 322 trains are four-cars, were built for the Stanstead Express.
  • The Class 455 trains are four-cars with third-rail gear, so would offer another type of train.
  • The Class 456 trains are two-cars with third-rail gear, so would offer another type of train.

In SWR Says Farewell To ‘456’s, I talk about converting the two-car Class 456 trains after Mark Hopwood, who is now a big cheese at Great Western Railway, suggested the conversion to create a useful two-car battery-electric train.

If you doubt, the quality of the bodies and interiors of these trains from another era, I suggest you go to Liverpool Street station and take a ride in one of Greater Anglia’s Class 321 Renatus trains.

As there are six classes that could be converted, various different types of train can be converted to suit an operator’s needs.

Main Line Speed

Most of these trains are 100 mph trains, with drivers telling me, that they have superb brakes to handle stopping from that speed.

However, Class 455 and Class 456 trains are only 75 mph trains, with some of the Class 320 trains being only 90 mph trains.

Accidents And Incidents

As far as I can tell, none of these trains has had a serious accident, that has resulted in the death of a passenger.

Even the Oxshott Rail Accident only resulted in two serious and five minor injuries, with one of the serious injuries being the driver of the cement truck.

It is a remarkable safety record.

 

Possible Routes

I will do these on a company-by-company basis, as all companies needs are different.

c2c

c2c is an all-electric company.

I doubt there is a possibility of the company needing any battery-electric trains.

Chiltern Railways

Chiltern Railways is an all-diesel company.

They effectively have three different types of motive power and the solutions for each will be different.

  • Six Class 68 locomotives haul Chiltern’s flagship main line services. As there are thirty-four of these modern locomotives in operation in the UK, I would suspect their manufacturer; Stadler will come up with a zero-carbon solution for application to these locomotives. I suspect they will become hydrogen-powered.
  • Workhorses are 28 Class 168 trains totalling eighty-five carriages. One has been converted to hybrid operation by Rolls-Royce mtu and I suspect that Rolls-Royce mtu have a plan to make all these trains zero-carbon by 2030.
  • There are also 39 Class 165 trains, which are diesel Networkers, dating from the 1990s.

I suspect that as the Networkers are the oldest in the fleet, these might be replaced with new rolling stock or some cascaded Turbostars.

I also wonder, whether Chiltern’s owner; Deutsche Bahn is watching the development of the Rolls-Royce mtu solution as it could be very applicable in Germany.

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway is an all-electric railway except for two services, where diesel multiple units are used.

  • Eastbourne and Ashford International – 25.4 miles one-way – Charge at Eastbourne and Ashford International using existing electrification or a charger.
  • London Bridge and Uckfield – 25 miles one way – Charge at Hurst Green and Uckfield using existing electrification or a charger.

Note.

  1. The trains would need a third-rail capability.
  2. The company also has a fleet of nineteen forty-year-old Class 313 trains, which are used on Coastway services.
  3. The Class 321 BEMUs could take over all Coastway services between Ashford International and Portsmouth, which would probably make things easier for the operator, with respect to staff training.

The addition of a fleet of Class 321 BEMUs or similar would surely be a sensible move to improve Govia Thameslink Railway services.

Great Western Railway

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled GWR Seeks Input To Decarbonisation Plan.

This is the first four paragraphs.

Great Western Railway is to undertake a market engagement exercise to support its development of a decarbonisation plan including a move away from diesel traction.

The operator is seeking industry input to inform the creation of a Future Fleet & Depot Proposal, setting out ‘affordable’ options for decarbonisation whilst improving and aligning services to future customer needs.

This could include automated rapid battery charging and innovative approaches to energy supply.

The Future Fleet & Depot Proposal will be submitted to the Department for Transport. If accepted by DfT, GWR would then begin procurement of rolling stock and supporting infrastructure. It envisages that this could get underway in September 2024.

It looks a good plan.

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, I opened the post with this quote from Mark Hopwood who at the time was the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway and in Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I quote him as saying the following about the trains for the Fawley Branch Line.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Mark Hopwood is so right about using old diesels and he has moved on to be Managing Director of Great Western Railway.

Could Mr. Hopwood be a driving force behind the decarbonisation of the Great Western Railway?

These trains will be possibilities for battery-electric trains.

  • Newbury and Bedwyn – Four cars – 13.3 miles one way – Charge at Newbury using existing electrification
  • West Ealing and Greenford – Two cars – 2.5 miles one-way – Charge at West Ealing
  • Slough and Windsor & Eton Central – Four cars – 2.8 miles one-way – Charge at Slough using existing electrification
  • Maidenhead and Marlow – Two cars – 7.1 miles one way – Charge at Maidenhead using existing electrification – Four car trains could run between Bourne End and Paddington
  • Twyford and Henley-on-Thames – Four cars – 4.6 miles one-way – Charge at Twyford using extended existing electrification – Trains could run to Paddington
  • Reading and Gatwick Airport – Four cars – 17.4 and 12.1 mile sections without electrification – Charge on existing third-rail electrification
  • Reading and Redhill – Four cars – 17.4 and 12.1 mile sections without electrification – Charge on existing third-rail electrification
  • Reading and Basingstoke – Four cars – 13.6 miles one-way – Charge at Reading using existing electrification
  • Didcot Parkway and Oxford – Four cars – 10.3 miles one-way – Charge at Didcot Parkway using existing electrification
  • Didcot Parkway and Banbury – Four cars – 33 miles one-way – Charge at Didcot Parkway using existing electrification – Charger or electrification needed at Banbury
  • Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Cardiff Central and Taunton – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Weston-super-Mare and Severn Beach – Two/Four cars – 45 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads, Weston-super-Mare and Severn Beach
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth – Two/Four cars – 16.6 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood – Four cars – 4.4 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads
  • Great Malvern and Westbury – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Gloucester and Weymouth – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Swindon and Westbury – Two/Four cars  32.5 miles one-way – Charge at Swindon and Westbury
  • Exmouth and Paignton – Four cars – 39.5 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids, Exmouth and Paignton
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – Two/Four cars – 39.6 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids and Barnstaple
  • Exeter Central and Okehampton – Two/Four cars – 25.6 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids and Okehampton
  • Plymouth and Gunnislake – Two cars – 14.6 miles one-way – Charge at Plymouth and Gunnislake
  • Liskeard to Looe – Two cars – 8.3 miles one-way – Charge at Liskeard
  • Par and Newquay – Two cars – 20.8 miles one-way – Charge at Par and Newquay
  • Truro and Falmouth Docks – 11.8 miles one-way – Charge at Truro
  • St Erth and St Ives – 4.2 miles one-way – Charge at St. Erth

Note.

  1. Many of the charging stations could be standard systems that are available from companies like Furrer+Frey and Vivarail.
  2. Or alternatively, a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be erected.
  3. I suspect major stations like Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth will be electrified.
  4. There probably needs to be more electrification in the Bristol area.
  5. Mark Hopwood’s nose, that said two-car trains will be needed, is probably right.
  6. Some of the trains would need a third-rail capability.

I suspect that with appropriate charging or electrification nearly all of Great Western Railways services can be run using battery-electric trains.

It does appear that Eversholt Rail Group and Vivarail have got the specification of the trains very close to the ideal, with respect to Great Western Railway’s needs.

Southeastern

Southeastern is a fully-decarbonised train operating company, with respect to passenger services.

But it wants to reopen the Hoo Branch, which will need some self-powered trains. I wrote about this in Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening.

The Class 321 BEMU would surely be a possibility to extend London and Gravesend services, by a distance of about a dozen miles to a new station at Hoo.

These trains would need a third-rail capability.

 

 

August 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Highland Council Forges Green Hydrogen Pact

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Getech subsidiary H2 Green has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Highland Council in Scotland aimed at creating a regional network of green hydrogen hubs across the Scottish Highlands.

Under the terms of the MoU, H2 Green and the Highland Council will produce a regional plan to develop a network of green hydrogen hubs at optimal locations across the region.

The first hub appears to be in Inverness, as I wrote in Hydrogen Hub Plan Will Cut Transport Sector Emissions In The Highlands.

But that is only the start.

  • Green hydrogen will be used in transport in the Highlands.
  • By-products like oxygen and heat will be distributed.
  • Delivery of Highland decarbonisation will be planned.
  • SGN Commercial Services will service large-volume customers.
  • Agreements are in place for Eversholt Rail to deploy their hydrogen-powered trains on the Far North and West Highland Lines of Scotland.

This statement from Jonathan Copus of Getech, sums up the objectives of the hydrogen project.

These activities combined with the Highland Council initiative are set to establish the Highlands as the leading UK-centre for decarbonisation and innovation; they will also support job creation, deliver energy security and provide a sustainable path for the region’s net zero transition.

I believe that a similar approach could be taken in other parts of the UK. Cornwall, East Anglia, Lincolnshire, much of Wales and the Borderlands between England and Scotland come to mind.

Each region will probably, decarbonise slightly differently and each will develop more and more innovative ways to use the hydrogen.

Conclusion

Hydrogen will play a large part in the decarbonisation of the UK.

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Will Energy Storage Funds Take The Leap To New Technology?

This article on the Motley Fool is entitled 3 UK Dividend Shares To Buy Yielding 6%.

This is a paragraph from the article.

The first company on my list is the Gore Street Energy Storage Fund (LSE: GSF). With a dividend yield of just over 6%, at the time of writing, I think this company looks incredibly attractive as an income investment. It is also an excellent way for me to build exposure to the green energy industry.

Just as everybody has a fridge in their house to stop food being wasted, electricity networks with a lot of intermittent resources like wind and solar, needs a device to store electricity, so that it isn’t wasted.

Gore Street Energy Storage Fund is being very safe and conservative at the current time, often using batteries from one of Elon Musk’s companies.

You can’t fault that, but they are only barely making a dent in the amount of batteries that will be needed.

If we are generating tens of GW of wind energy, then we need batteries at the GWh level, whereas at the moment a typical battery in Gore Street’s portfolio has only an output of a few megawatts. They don’t state the capacity in MWh.

There is this statement on their web site, about the technology they use.

Although the projects comprising the Seed Portfolio utilise lithium-ion batteries and much of the pipeline of investments identified by the Company are also expected to utilise lithium-ion batteries, the Company is generally agnostic about which technology it utilises in its energy storage projects. The Company does not presently see any energy storage technology which is a viable alternative to lithium-ion batteries. However, there are a number of technologies which are being researched which if successfully commercialised, could prove over time more favourable and the Company will closely monitor such developing technologies.

They say they are agnostic about technology and are looking around, but they are sticking with lithium-ion technology.

That technology works, is safe and gives a good return.

But they are at least thinking about moving to new technology.

In the rail industry, it is common for rail leasing companies to get together with train manufacturers or remanufacturers to develop new trains.

As an example, Eversholt Rail and Alstom formed a partnership to develop a hydrogen-powered train for the UK, which I wrote about in Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet.

Worldwide, there are probably upwards of a dozen very promising energy storage technologies, so I am very surprised that energy storage funds, like Gore Street and Gresham House have not announced any development deals.

Conclusion

Energy storage funds could benefit from using some of the financing methods used by rolling stock leasing companies.

December 13, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And The Uckfield Branch

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

One possible route for the trains could be the Uckfield Branch, which has an hourly service from London Bridge via East Croydon and Oxted stations?

  • The route is forty-six miles long, with the Northernmost twenty-one miles electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • On each trip, the train would need to run for fifty miles without electrification.
  • There are seven stops on the route.
  • The platforms on the Uckfield Branch can handle a 240 metre train.
  • Trains take around three hours for the round trip.
  • Each train probably does around five round trips per day.

So would Alstom Hydrogen Aventras be able to work the route?

  • The length of a three-car Alstom Hydrogen Aventra is probably around 72 metres.
  • Three Alstom Hydrogen Aventras working together would be 216 metres.
  • Aventras can be configured to work on 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • The capacity of a nine-car formation of Alstom Hydrogen Aventra would be similar to that of a ten-car Electrostar, which has shorter cars.

Three Alstom Hydrogen Aventra trains working together could seem to be a possible solution for the route.

These are my thoughts.

The Required Range

If each train has to do five round trips, with each needing fifty miles on hydrogen, the trains would need a range in excess of 250 miles, whilst running on hydrogen.

Refuelling With Hydrogen

This would probably be done at a depot setup to service the hydrogen trains, where they would be stabled at night.

I doubt that London Bridge or Uckfield stations would be suitable places to refuel

The Number Of Trains

In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I estimated that three ten- or twelve-car trains would be needed to run an hourly service. Running half-hourly would need six trains.

As each nine-car train would need three Alstom Hydrogen Aventras, an hourly service would need a total of nine and a half-hourly service would need eighteen individual trains.

I suspect that this would not be a cost effective way of using the trains, as a lot of trains would need to refuelled every day.

Conclusion

I am not saying that Alstom Hydrogen Aventras couldn’t work the Uckfield Branch, but I’m sure there are are better ways to decarbonise the route.

November 12, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Alstom.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Alstom, Britain’s leading train manufacturer and maintenance provider, and Eversholt Rail, leading British train owner and financier, have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at delivering the UK’s first ever brand-new hydrogen train fleet.

The two companies have agreed to work together, sharing technical and commercial information necessary for Alstom to design, build, commission and support a fleet of ten three-car hydrogen multiple units (HMUs). These will be built by Alstom in Britain. The new HMU fleet will be based on the latest evolution of the Alstom Aventra platform and the intention is that final contracts for the fleet will be signed in early 2022.

This is an Alstom visualisation of the train.

The first thing I notice is that the train doesn’t have the same aerodynamic nose as this current Class 710 train, which is one of the London Overground’s Aventras.

 

Note how the lights, coupler position and the front-end structure are all different.

These are my further thoughts on the design.

The Aventra’s Traction System

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over ten years ago, so I suspect Bombardier (or now Alstom) have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 Aventra trains use super-capacitors or lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

  • I was told by a Bombardier driver-trainer that the Class 345 trains have an emergency power supply. When I said “Batteries?”, He gave a knowing smile.
  • From the feel of riding on Class 710 trains, as a Control Engineer, I suspect there is a battery or supercapacitor in the drive system to give a smoother ride.

I also feel that the Aventra has been designed, so that it can accept power from a large variety of sources, which charge the battery, that ultimately drives the train.

The Formation Of A Three-Car Aventra

The only three-car Aventra is the Class 730/0 train.

I have not seen one of one of these trains in the metal and the formation can’t be found on the Internet. But Wikipedia does show the pantograph on the middle car.

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I said this.

Here is the formation of the train.

DMS+PMS(W)+MS1+DMS

The plates on the individual cars are as follows.

DMS – Driving Motored Standard

    • Weight – 43.5 tonnes
    • Length – 21.45 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 43

The two DMS cars would appear to be identical.

PMS (W) -Pantograph Motored Standard

    • Weight – 38.5 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 51

The (W) signifies a wheelchair space.

MS1 – Motored Standard

    • Weight – 32.3 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 52

It is similar in size to the PMS car, but has an extra seat.

So could the formation of a three-car Aventra be?

DMS+PMS(W)+DMS

I have just removed the MS1 car.

This would mean that a three-car Aventra has the following dimensions and capacity.

  • Weight – 125.5 tonnes
  • Length – 62.89 metres
  • Seats – 137

There will probably be a difference between these figures and those of a three-car Class 730 train, as those trains have end-gangways.

Could All The Hydrogen Gubbins Fit Underneath The Train?

These pictures show the space underneath a Class 710 train.

If you also look at Alstom’s visualisation of their Hydrogen Aventra on this post, there would appear to be lots of space under the train.

It should also be noted  that Birmingham University’s engineers have managed to put all of the hydrogen gubbins underneath the floor of Porterbrook’s Class 799 train.

Looking at my pictures, you can see the following.

  • The two DMS (Driving Motored Standard) cars have large boxes underneath
  • The MS1(Motored Standard) car is fairly clear underneath. But this will probably not be there in a three-car train.
  • The PMS (Pantograph Motored Standard) car has some space underneath.

If more space needs to be created, I suspect that the cars can be lengthened, between the bogies. The Class 710 trains have twenty metre intermediate cars, whereas some versions have twenty-four metre cars.

I believe that Aventras have been designed, so that various power sources could be installed under the floor.

When the Aventra was designed, over ten years ago, these could have included.

  • A diesel generator and all the fuel tanks and cooling systems.
  • A battery or other energy storage system.

Since then two other suitable power sources have been developed.

  • Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and others have developed small and powerful gas-turbine generators.
  • Ballard Power Systems and others have developed hydrogen fuel cell generators.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Have Longer Cars?

I have been looking at pictures of Aventras on Wikipedia and in my own archive.

It appears that only Aventras with twenty-four metre carriages have five windows between the pair of double-doors in the intermediate carriages.

This picture shows the PMS car from a Class 710 train.

The PMS car is to the right and has four windows between the doors.

This is the side view of one of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.

It has twenty-four metre intermediate cars and five windows.

It looks to me that the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will have twenty-four metre cars.

This will give an extra four x 2.78 metres space under the train compared to a Class 710 train.

It would also appear that the Aventras with twenty-four metre cars also have an extra window in the driving cars, between the doors.

Does the four metre stretch make it possible to position tubular hydrogen tanks across the train to store a practical amount of hydrogen?

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Based On A Three-Car Class 730/0 Train?

I have just found this video of a three-car Class 730/0 under test.

And guess what! It has five windows between the doors.

But then it is a train with twenty-four metre cars.

It looks to me, that Alstom have looked at the current Aventra range and decided that the three-car Class 730/0 could be the one to convert into a useful train powered by hydrogen.

So if it is a Class 730/0 train with hydrogen gubbins under the floor, what other characteristics would carry over.

  • I suspect Aventras are agnostic about power and so long as they get the right quantity of volts, amps and watts, the train will roll along happily.
  • But it means that the train can probably use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, 750 VDC third-rail electrification, hydrogen or battery power.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if if could use 15 KVAC and 3KVDC overhead electrification for operation in other countries, with perhaps a change of power electronics or transformer.
  • The interior layout of the trains can probably be the same as that of the Class 730/0 trains.
  • The Class 730/0 trains have an operating speed of 90 mph and this could be good enough for hydrogen.

This could be a very capable train, that could find a lot of applications.

Could The Proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Considered To Be A Class 730/0 Train With A Hydrogen Extender?

It appears that the only difference between the two trains is that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra has a hydrogen propulsion system, that can be used when the electrification runs out.

The hydrogen fuel cell will convert hydrogen into electricity, which will either be used immediately or stored in a battery on the train.

The Class 730/0 trains have already been ordered to run services on Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Class 600 Breeze Train?

The Class 600 train, which is based on the British Rail-era Class 321 train seems to have gone cold.

If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped after the fourth round, if not before.

This Alstom visualisation shows the Class 600 train, which is also known as the Breeze.

I have a feeling that Alstom have done their marketing and everybody has said that the Class 600 train wouldn’t stand up to a modern train.

  • When you consider that each end of the train is a hydrogen tank, I wonder if possible passenger and driver reaction has not been overwhelmingly positive.
  • The project was announced in January 2021 and in the intervening time, hydrogen technology has improved at a fast pace.
  • There could even be a battery-electric version of the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  • The modern train could possibly be lengthened to a four or five car train.

It does strike me, that if Alstom are going to succeed with hydrogen trains, that to carry on with the Class 600 train without an order into the future is not a good idea.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Alstom Coradia iLint?

The Alstom Coradia iLint is the world’s first hydrogen train.

It is successfully in service in Germany.

These are some characteristics of the Coradia iLint from the Internet.

  • Seats – 180
  • Length – 54.27 metres
  • Width – 2.75 metres
  • Height – 4.31 metres
  • Operating Speed – 87 mph
  • Range – 370-500 miles
  • Electrification Use – No

The same figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra are as follows.

  • Seats – 164
  • Length – 72 metres
  • Width – 2.78 metres
  • Height – 3.76 metres
  • Operating Speed – 90 mph
  • Range – Unknown
  • Electrification Use – Unknown, but I would expect it is possible.

Note.

  1. I have taken figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra from the Class 730/0 train and other Aventras.
  2. The number of seats is my best estimate from using the seat density of a Class 710 train in a 24 metre long car.
  3. The width and height seem to be standard for most Aventras.
  4. Alstom have said nothing about the range on hydrogen.
  5. I am surprised that the Aventra is the wider train.

But what surprises me most, is how similar the two specifications are. Had the designer of the original Lint hoped to sell some in the UK?

What Is The Range Of The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra?

When they launched the Breeze, Alstom were talking about a range of a thousand kilometres or just over 620 miles.

I have talked to someone, who manages a large bus fleet and they feel with a hydrogen bus, you need a long range, as you might have to position the bus before it does a full day’s work.

Would similar positioning mean a hydrogen train needs a long range?

I suspect it would in some applications, but if the train could use electrification, as I suspect the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can, this must help with positioning and reduce the range needed and the amount of hydrogen used.

Would Alstom aim to make the range similar to the Coradia iLint? It’s probably a fair assumption.

Could the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Extended To Four Or Five Cars?

I don’t see why not, as Aventras are designed to be lengthened or shortened, by just adding or removing cars, just like their predecessors the Electrostars were.

I can certainly see routes, where a longer Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be needed and if Alstom have also decided that such a train could be needed, they will surely have investigated how to lengthen the train.

Applications In The UK

These are links to a few thoughts on applications of the trains in the UK.

There are probably a lot more and I will add to this list.

Applications Elsewhere

If the Coradia iLint has problems, they are these.

  • It can’t use overhead electrification, where it exists
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission, as it is a converted diesel multiple unit design.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can probably be modified to use electrification of any flavour and I can’t see why the train would be more noisy that say a Class 710 train.

I suspect Alstom will be putting the train forward for partially-electrified networks in countries other than the UK.

Conclusion

This modern hydrogen train from Alstom is what is needed.

It might also gain an initial order for Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, as it is a hydrogen version of the line’s Class 730/0 trains.

But having a hydrogen and an electric version, that are identical except for the hydrogen extender, could mean that the trains would be ideal for a partially-electrified network.

There could even be a compatible battery-electric version.

All trains would be identical to the passenger and probably the driver too. This would mean that mixed fleets could be run by an operator, with hydrogen or battery versions used on lines without electrification as appropriate.

 

 

 

 

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Prototype Revolution Very Light Rail Vehicle Ready For Testing

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

It is very much a complete article, which gives full information on the current status of the Revolution VLR very light rail prototype railcar.

  • The railcar is an eighteen metre long bi-directional vehicle.
  • It has capacity for 56 seated passengers and 40 standees. This is more than a double-deck bus load.
  • It has a Cummins diesel-electric power-train.
  • Maximum speed is 65 mph.
  • There is regenerative braking to a battery, which can be used for traction in built-up areas.

I must admit that I am surprised that Revolution VLR is not fully zero-carbon, but as this is a prototype, that is probably a sensible move, as it will be able to test the concept and show the railcar to potential customers.

However, as Cummins are a member of the consortium and they are now embracing hydrogen as an alternative fuel, a zero-carbon hydrogen power-train may be under development, that would be suitable for the Revolution VLR.

When the Revolution VLR consortium was in its early stages I wrote Very Light Rail Research On Track, based on a Railway Gazette article with the same title.

That earlier article did talk about a problem.

However, the drawback of a lightweight vehicle is that its lower crashworthiness could make it unsuitable for mixed traffic lines.

But the consortium felt that the limitation could be overcome by better traffic management and digital signalling.

Mixed traffic running was also flagged up as a problem by the tram-trains running in Sheffield, but touch wood, they seem to be working well!

Hopefully extensive testing of this prototype will identify any limitations of the concept.

August 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stonehenge Tunnel Campaigners Win Court Battle

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

This is the first part of the BBC article.

Campaigners have won a court battle to prevent the “scandalous” construction of a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

The £1.7bn Highways England project aimed to reduce A303 congestion but campaigners said it would detrimentally affect the world heritage site.

The government approved plans in 2020 for a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel to be created near the Wiltshire monument.

Mr Justice Holgate’s ruling means the order granted by transport secretary Grant Shapps has been quashed.

I obtained my driving licence in 1964 and since then the A303 past Stonehenge has been a worsening bottleneck.

I suspect that unreleased papers from successive governments since the 1960s would show that most Ministers of Transport hoped the problem of Stonehenge would be solved by the next Government of a different colour, which would hopefully lose them the next election.

If you read the whole of the BBC article you’ll see a large map from Highways England.

Note.

  1. The proposed tunnel is shown as a dotted red line to the South of Stonehenge, more or less following the line of the current A303.
  2. The Amesbury by-pass already exists in the East.
  3. A new Winterbourne Stoke by-pass will be built in the West.

Some feel that a longer tunnel might be the solution.

But it would probably need to start to the West of Winterbourne Stoke and be at least three times longer than the proposed tunnel.

So this short stretch of road would then probably cost around £5billion.

Can We Reduce The Traffic On This Road?

There are several ways that traffic might be reduced.

Universal Road Pricing

Every vehicle would be fitted with a meter, which charged drivers depending on the following.

  • The type of vehicle.
  • The congestion on the road.
  • The speed, at which the vehicle is travelling.

It might work, but any government introducing universal road pricing would lose the next General Election by a landslide.

Tolls On Parts Of The A303

Again it might work and push drivers to find other routes.

Improve Other Routes Like The M4

As capacity is increased on other routes, drivers could be lured away from the busy section of the A303 around Stonehenge.

Improve Rail Services Between Paddington And West Of Exeter

I know because of friends, who regularly go to Devon and \Cornwall for both weekends and longer holidays, that many people go to the far-South West by car and most will use the A303 route to and from London.

These services are run by Great Western Railway and the destinations in the South West are not as comprehensive as they could be.

  • GWR’s Class 802 trains can split and join efficiently, which could mean they could serve more destinations with the same number of trains.
  • GWR seem to be in favour of developing more direct services between London and Bodmin, Okehampton and other places.
  • GWR are adding stations to their network in the South-West.

But most importantly, GWR, Hitachi and the Eversholt Rail Group are developing the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which will lower carbon-emissions on the route. This Hitachi infographic describes the train.

These trains could attract numbers of car drivers to use the train, rather than drive.

Improve The Night Riviera Between Paddington And Penzance

Most other sleeper trains in Europe have renewed their fleet.

An improvement in the rolling stock could encourage more people to travel this way.

Improve Rail Services Between Waterloo And Exeter

The rail line between Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke and Salisbury runs within a dozen miles of Stonehenge.

  • The rolling stock is thirty-year-old British Rail diesel trains.
  • It is not electrified to the West of Basingstoke.
  • There are portions of single-track railway.

The Waterloo and Exeter line could be improved.

  • Remove some sections of single track.
  • Upgrade the operating speed to up to 100 mph in places.
  • Use a version of the latest Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train
  • Add some new stations.

I believe the quality, frequency and journey times of the service could all be improved.

Would this second fast route from the South-West encourage more to take the train?

Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station

Stonehenge may be the problem, but it can also be part of the solution.

In The Proposal For Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station, I write about an innovative proposal, that uses a car park at a new station to create a Park-And-Ride for both Stonehenge and Salisbury.

This could bring more visitors to Stonehenge without their cars.

Conclusion

None of these proposals will take vast amounts of pressure from the A303. But every little helps.

Some like the decarbonisation of rail services will have to be done anyway.

 

July 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Whisky Galore!

The Levenmouth Rail Link has carried freight in the past.

Mainly in the past, it was coal to the now-demolished Methil power station.

But it has been known to carry whisky for Diageo.

This Google map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The blue dot marking Sainsbury’s by the bew Leven station, by the mouth of the River Leven.
  2. The railway follows the river with Cameron Bridge station to the East of the A915 and the two Camero Bridge distilleries.
  3. The silver warehouses at the North side of the map are labelled Diageo Global Supply.

I wonder, if a siding can be provided for the distribution of products stored in the warehouses?

Companies are looking to lower their carbon-footprint and I wouldn’t be surprised, if Diageo were looking at rail distribution.

Modern Rail Freight Distribution

Companies are converting redundant electric multiple units into fast parcel delivery trains to replace diesel trucks.

  • Typically, four-car trains are used.
  • Trains have a 100 mph capability and can be 240 metres in length.
  • Eversholt Rail Group are proposing adding battery power. This would be ideal to reach Cameron Bridge over the Forth Bridge.

These trains would be ideal for the delivery of Scotch Whisky.

They might even be capable of exporting product through the Channel Tunnel.

I don’t think the capacity of the Levenmouth Rail Link would be a problem, as it is a double-track railway, that can probably handle over four trains per hour and there is plenty of capacity for a number of freight trains.

Conclusion

I think freight will play a use in the future of the Levenmouth Rail Link.

Related Posts

The New Leven Station On The Levenmouth Rail Link

The New Cameron Bridge Station On The Levenmouth Rail Link

North From Thornton Junction

Service Provision On The Levenmouth Rail Link

Trains On The Levenmouth Rail Link

July 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

H2 Green, Eversholt Rail To Jointly Develop Hydrogen Supply Solutions In The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

Their co-operation will be for the rail industry and based on green hydrogen, produced by electrolysis.

  • H2 Green is a Scottish company, that were recently taken over by Getech,
  • Eversholt Rail Group is a rolling stock leasing company, who are also backing hydrogen trains, that will be manufactured by Alstom.

This could be the kick up the backside, that hydrogen trains need in the UK.

July 6, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?

This article on Rail Advent is entitled Eversholt Rail Unveils First Swift Express Freight Train In Doncaster.

It is a full report on the first of a new breed of freight trains based on redundant 100 mph electric multiple units.

Three Rail Problems

The rail industry, its financiers and customers have a lot of problems, they’d like to solve, but these three seem to be coming together to create a whole new industry.

Rolling Stock Leasing Companies Have A Surplus Of Redundant Rolling Stock

 

Most of the released rolling stock has been made redundant because of the arrival of new trains.

What will be left will be a an assortment, which will contain a lot of trains with these characteristics.

  • Four cars
  • Can run in formations of 4, 8 and 12 cars
  • Electrically-powered.
  • Some trains are even dual voltage.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Good reliability.
  • Easy maintenance and modification if needed.

Many were even built over thirty years ago by British Rail Engineering Ltd.

As someone, who used to part-own a company that leased trucks to operators, I know that to maximise cash-flow and ultimately profits, you don’t want them sitting in a yard or a siding.

Conversion to zero carbon is one option.

  • Porterbrook have said they will convert the Class 350 trains, that they own to battery-electric operation.
  • Porterbrook have also converted some Class 319 trains to electro-diesel Class 769 trains.
  • Porterbrook have also converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen operation.
  • Eversholt Rail Group and Alstom are converting Class 321 trains to hydrogen operation.

I also believe that the redundant Class 379 trains will also be converted to battery-electric operation.

But there will still be a substantial number of quality trains, that need a second life.

The Growth Of Parcel Freight

Parcel freight traffic driven by on-line shopping, has boomed in the pandemic.

This type of traffic often originates from outside of the UK and enters the country at places like London Gateway or East Midlands Airport.

Much of it is currently distributed to large cities by truck, which in this day and age is not a green option, or even an option at all.

Rail Operations Group have leased ten Class 769 trains and 9 Class 319 trains with the intention of running parcel services under the Orion brand. I wrote about this proposal in A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

Road Congestion

Road congestion is getting worse and there is bir much point in having product stuck on the motorway, when it can be running along at a 100 mph on an electrified rail line.

The Need For Just-In-Time Deliveries

Many factories these days work on the Just-In-Time principle, with product delivered just as its needed.

As an example Toyota build their cars at Burnaston near Derby, but the engines are built in North Wales. I suspect that they go across the country by truck.

Looking at maps, the engine plant could be rail connected and I feel one could be arranged at Burnaston.

Do they keep a good stock of engines at Burnaston?

I can see several situations like this needing a regular company train.

Fast Food

Because of Brexit we will need to be growing more of our own food.

Traditionally, the Class 43 power cars of InterCity 125 trains carried flowers and fish up from Cornwall.

So will we see rail provide an alternative.

Conclusion

Put these problems together and you can see a fair number of four-car electric multiple units being converted to short 100 mph electric freight trains.

Eversholt Rail Group‘s Swift Express Freight Train is very much a demonstrator for their ideas and it has some expected and unexpected features.

Based On A Class 321 train

The train is based on a four-car Class 321 train.

I rode one recently and I timed it at over 90 mph on the way to Southend.

Trolley Cages

Pictures in the Rail Advent article show a stripped-bare interior with a steel floor, with another picture showing three supermarket trolley cages arranged across the train.

One estimate in the article says that each coach can handle over fifty of these cages and up to nine-and-a-half tonnes of cargo.

Four Seats And A Toilet

Eversholt feel that some of the trains could be used in a Travelling Post Office mode and there may be a need for sorting en route, so two first-class seats, two second-class seats and a toilet are provided.

This train would enable an Anglo-Scottish parcel service.

  • It might stop several times en route.
  • At each stop parcels would be rolled out and in, perhaps with the help of a Harrington Hump.
  • The on-train staff would sort the incoming parcels and put them in the required trolley for offloading.

I don’t think though, they’ll be delivering postal orders.

A Last Mile Capability

The article also disclosed that Eversholt were thinking of fitting a Last-Mile capability to the Swift Express Freight Train.

Batteries were mentioned and they would obviously work.

But one development recently is Porterbrook’s HydroFlex train, which has converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen power.

  • The conversion was done by Birmingham University.
  • It appears that all the hydrogen gubbins is underneath the floor, so cargo capacity would not be reduced.

I suspect underfloor hydrogen power could be very viable in an express freight train.

Fleet Size

The article talks of a fleet size of twenty and also says that the first train has been leased to an unnamed parcel distributor in the UK.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Design, Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments