The Anonymous Widower

A Pair Of Class 90 Locomotives Working Through Stratford

I spotted this pair of Class 90 locomotives at Stratford hauling a long but lightly loaded freight train.

Note.

  1. I was surprised to see the locomotives working as a pair.
  2. Was it an experiment, testing or driver training?
  3. The locomotives were still in the Greater Anglian white livery.
  4. They still had their names.

I was a bit slow to get my camera out.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Wentloog

I am looking at this trip in detail, to see how a Class 93 locomotive could change this journey.

Where Is Wentloog?

Wentloog is a Rail Freight Interchange, run by Freightliner, a few miles to the East of Cardiff.

This Google Map shows the interchange.

Note the electrified Great Western Main Line between London and Cardiff giving rail access to freight trains.

Sections Of The Route

The route can be divided into these sections.

  • Port of Felixstowe and Trimley – 2.3 miles – 7 minutes – 19.7 mph –  Not Electrified
  • Trimley and Ipswich – 14 miles – 60 minutes -14 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ipswich and Stratford – 64.6 miles – 77 minutes – 50.3 mph – Electrified
  • Stratford and Acton Wells Junction – 12.5 miles – 72 minutes – 10.4 mph – Electrified
  • Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line – 0.7 miles – 3 minutes -14 mph – Possibly Electrified
  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog – 134.3 miles – 249 minutes -32.4 mph – Electrified

Note.

  1. Nearly, all the route is electrified.
  2. I am not sure if between Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line is electrified.

The journey takes nearly eight hours.

These are my thoughts on how the various sections would be handled.

Port of Felixstowe And Trimley

As I stated in Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe, I would electrify the short section between the Port of Felixstowe And Trimley. This would do the following.

  • Charge the batteries on trains entering the Port, so they could operate in the Port without using diesel.
  • Charge batteries on trains leaving the Port, so that they could have a power boost to Ipswich.
  • The trains could be accelerated to operating speed using the electrification.

There would also be no use of diesel to the East of Trimley, which I’m sure the residents of Felixstowe would like.

Trimley and Ipswich

This section would be on diesel, with any energy left in the battery used to cut diesel running through Ipswich.

Ipswich And Stratford

Consider

  • Ipswich and Stratford is a 100 mph fully-electrified line.
  • A passenger train can do the route in an hour.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between Ipswich and Liverpool Street are 100 mph electrically-hauled trains.

Stratford and Acton Wells Junction

The North London Line is getting increasingly busy and as it goes through the middle of residential areas, there will be increasing pressure for all trains to be electric, to cut noise and pollution.

In A North London Line With Digital Signalling, I wrote about the benefits of adding digital signalling on the North London Line.

I suspect in a few years time all freight trains using the North London Line will be electrically-hauled and will use digital ERTMS signalling, so that more trains can be squeezed onto the North London Line, so that increasing numbers of freight trains can travel between Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury in the East and Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Scotland and other destinations in the North and West.

Locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive will become an increasingly common sight on the line.

Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line

This connection between the North London Line and the Great Western Main Line will surely, be electrified, if it has not been done already, so that electric freight trains can go between the two routes.

Acton Main Line and Wentloog

Consider

  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog is a fully-electrified line.
  • The operating speed is up to 125 mph
  • A passenger train can do the route in just under 100 minutes.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between London and Cardiff are electrically-hauled trains, capable of upwards of 100 mph.

Conclusion

There would be very worthwhile time and diesel savings, by running the Felixstowe and Wentloog service using a Class 93 locomotive.

How many other services to and from Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury would be improved by being hauled by a Class 93 locomotive?

I suspect, it’s not a small number, that can be counted on your fingers and toes.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A 1500 Tonne Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Nuneaton

I am writing this post to show how I believe the new Class 93 locomotive would haul a freight train between the Port of Felixstowe and Nuneaton, where it would join the West Coast Main Line for Liverpool, Manchester mor Scotland.

Why 1500 Tonnes?

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled, Re-Engineering Rail Freight, gives a few more details about the operation of the Class 93 locomotives.

This is said about performance.

As a result, the 86-tonne Class 93 is capable of hauling 1,500 tonnes on non-electrified routes and 2,500 tonnes on electrified routes. With a route availability (RA) of seven, it can be used on most of the rail network.

So as I’m talking about non-electrified routes, I’ll use 1500 tonnes.

Sections Of The Route

The route can be divided into these sections.

  • Port of Felixstowe and Trimley – 2.3 miles – 7 minutes – 19.7 mph –  Not Electrified
  • Trimley and Ipswich Europa Junction – 13.5 miles – 43 minutes -18.8 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ipswich Europa Junction and Haughley Junction – 12.1 miles – 24 minutes -30.2 mph – Electrified
  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38.3 miles – 77 minutes -29.8 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – 58 minutes -31.6 mph – Not Electrified
  • Peterborough and Werrington Junction – 3.1 miles – 5 minutes -37.2 mph – Electrified
  • Werrington Junction and Leicester – 49.1 miles – 97 minutes -30.4 mph – Not Electrified
  • Leicester and Nuneaton – 18.8 miles – 27 minutes -41.8 mph – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The train only averages around 40 mph on two sections.
  2. There is electrification at between Europa Junction and Haughley Junction, at Ely and Peterborough, that could be used to fully charge the batteries.
  3. In Trimode Class 93 Locomotives Ordered By Rail Operations (UK), I calculated that the 80 kWh batteries in a Class 93 locomotive hauling a 1500 tonne load can accelerate the train to 40 mph.

I can see some innovative junctions being created, where electrification starts and finishes, so that batteries are fully charged as the trains pass through.

  • There must be tremendous possibilities at Ely, Haughley and Werrington to take trains smartly through the junctions and send, them on their way with full batteries.
  • All have modern electrification, hopefully with a strong power supply, so how far could the electrification be continued on the lines without electrification?
  • Given that the pantographs on the Class 93 locomotives, will have all the alacrity and speed to go up and down like a whore’s drawers, I’m sure there will be many places on the UK rail network to top up the batteries.

Consider going between Ely and Peterborough.

  • Leaving Ely, the train will have a battery containing enough energy to get them to forty mph.
  • Once rolling along at forty, the Cat would take them to the East Coast Main Line, where they would arrive with an almost flat battery.
  • It would then be a case of pan up and on to Peterborough.

These are my ideas for how the various sections would be handled.

Port of Felixstowe And Trimley

As I stated in Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe, I would electrify the short section between the Port of Felixstowe And Trimley. This would do the following.

  • Charge the batteries on trains entering the Port, so they could operate in the Port without using diesel.
  • Charge batteries on trains leaving the Port, so that they could have a power boost to Ipswich.
  • The trains could be accelerated to operating speed using the electrification.

There would also be no use of diesel to the East of Trimley, which I’m sure the residents of Felixstowe would like.

Trimley and Ipswich Europa Junction

This section would be on diesel, with any energy left in the battery used to cut diesel running through Ipswich.

Ipswich Europa Junction and Haughley Junction

Consider.

  • This is a 100 mph line.
  • It is fully-electrified.
  • All the passenger trains will be running at this speed.

If the freight ran at that speed, up to 17 minutes could be saved.

Haughley Junction And Ely

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

There are also plans to improve Haughley Junction, which I wrote about in Haughley Junction Improvements.

One possibility would be to extend the electrification from Haughley Junction a few miles to the West, to cut down diesel use in both Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains and any freight trains hauled by Class 93 locomotives.

As there are plans for an A14 Parkway station at Chippenham Junction, which is 25 miles to the West of Haughley Junction, it might be sensible to electrify around Chippenham Junction.

Ely and Peterborough

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

It should also be noted that the tracks at Ely are to be remodelled.

  • Would it not be sensible to have sufficient electrification at the station, so that a Class 93 locomotive leaves the area with full batteries?
  • Acceleration to operating speed would be on battery power, thus further reducing diesel use.

It probably wouldn’t be the most difficult of projects at Peterborough to electrify between Peterborough East Junction and Werrington Junction on the Stamford Lines used by the freight trains.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that the route between Ely and Peterborough should be an early electrification project.

  • It would give a second electrified route between London and Peterborough, which could be a valuable diversion route.
  • It would allow bi-mode trains to work easier to and from Peterborough.
  • It would be a great help to Class 93 locomotives hauling freight out of Felixstowe.

As the Ely-Peterborough Line has a 75 mph operating speed, it would Class 73 locomotive-hauled freights would save around thirty ,inutes.

Peterborough and Werrington Junction

This section looks to be being electrified during the building of the Werrington Dive Under.

Werrington Junction and Leicester

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

Leicester and Nuneaton

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries,

As there is full electrification at Nuneaton, this electrification could be extended for a few miles towards Leicester.

Conclusion

This has only been a rough analysis, but it does show that Class 93 locomotives can offer advantages in running freight trains between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.

But selective lengths of electrification would bring time and diesel savings.

January 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe

This Google Map shows the Port of Felixstowe.

Note.

  1. Trimley station is at the top edge of the map.
  2. One rail line curves down from Trimley to the Southern side of the Port.
  3. Another rail line connects Trimley to the Northern side of the Port.
  4. A few miles of the route between Trimley and Ipswich, has recently been double-tracked and improved.

I will now describe the important parts of the rail network to and from the Port.

Trimley Station

This Google Map shows Trimley station.

Note.

  1. Trimley station has two platforms. although only the Northern one, which is numbered 1 is in use.
  2. There are two tracks through the station.
  3. There is a footbridge over the tracks.
  4. Most people cross the lines on the level crossing.

The track through Trimley station has been improved and the improved is described in the Wikipedia entry for the Felixstowe Branch Line, where this is said.

In October 2017 final approval was given for a £60.4m project which includes doubling between Trimley station and Grimston Lane foot crossing. Work started on 7 April 2018 and was predicted to end in Autumn 2019.[29] However, the work was completed by May 2019 and saw changes to the infrastructure at Trimley station where trains from the Felixstowe direction could now access the disused platform road and the establishment of a double track as far as a new junction called Gun Lane Junction just over a mile west of Trimley station. Both lines can be worked bi-directionally and with the increase in freight traffic that resulted from the additional capacity a number of level crossings were either abolished or upgraded to improve safety.

This Google Map shows the section of line, that has now been dualed.

Note.

  1. Grimston Lane is the triangle of roads in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Trimley station is in the South-East corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the track layout East of Trimley station.

Note.

  1. Trimley station is at the top of the map.
  2. There is a junction to the South-East of Trimley station.
  3. The Northern track goes straight on to Felixstowe station and the Southern Terminal at the Port of Felixstowe.
  4. The Southern track curves South to the North Terminal at the Port of Felixstowe.
  5. Both branches are single track.

It would appear that all trains going to and from the South Terminal at the Port, take the Northern track through Trimley station and those going to and from the North Terminal at the Port, take the Southern track.

Southern Access To The Port

This Google Map shows how the trains go between Trimley station and the Southern entry to the Port.

Note.

  1. Felixstowe station is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The single track from Trimley station splits into two in the North West corner of the map.
  3. One branch allows an hourly service between Ipswich and Felixstowe stations.
  4. The second branch goes South to the Port.
  5. The junction used to be a full triangular junction to allow trains to go between the two Felixstowe stations.

Do the residents of some houses in Felixstowe, get plagued by noise, pollution, smell and the diesel smoke of Class 66 locomotives going to and from the Southern access to the Port?

Felixstowe Beach Station

There used to be a Felixstowe Beach station on the railway to the Port.

This Google Map shows the location.

The station was to the North-East of the level crossing.

These pictures show the area as it was a year or so ago.

Is there a need for a new Felixstowe Beach station to allow workers and visitors to the Port to avoid the crowded roads?

Future Passenger Services Between Ipswich and Felixstowe

The passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe has for many years been a bine of contention between the Port of Felixstowe and passenger train operators.

The Port would like to see the passenger service discontinued, so that they could run more freight trains.

However, to increase both freight and passenger capacity, the East-West Rail consortium has proposed running a tram-train between Felixstowe and Ipswich.

  • It would run through the streets of Ipswich to the forecourt of Ipswich station.
  • It would serve important points in Ipswich, like the Hospital, Town Centre and Portman Road.
  • It would have a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

I wrote about the proposal in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

The Southern area of Felixstowe, along the beach is run down and needs improvement.

So why not run the tram-train all the way along the sea-front to Landguard Point?

This Google Map shows Landguard Point.

A tram-train going to Landguard Point would do the following.

  • Provide a direct passenger rail service between the Port and Ipswich.
  • Provide access to the Harwich ferry.
  • Improve the economic prospects of the Southern part of Felixstowe.
  • Bring visitors to the beach without using their cars.

But the main thing it would do is create decent access to the historic Landguard Fort.

Landguard Fort was the site of the last invasion of the UK, when the Dutch were repelled on the 2nd of July 1667, at the Battle of Landguard Fort.

The Southern Terminal At The Port Of Felixstowe

This Google Map shows the Southern terminal of the Port.

This second Google Map shows where the rail line enters the Southern terminal.

Note how the rail link enters in the North-East corner of the and curves towards the quays before it splits into two.

One branch goes straight on, past some sidings and gives a connection to the Trinity Terminal.

The second branch turns South to several sidings.

This Google Map shows these sidings.

Note that the sidings are towards the right of the image and run North-South.

Northern Access To The Port

This Google Map shows the route taken by the rail access to the Trinity Terminal.

Note.

  1. The route branches off South just to the East of Trimley station.
  2. It curves its way South to the South-West corner of the map, where it enters the Port.
  3. It is single track.

This second Google Map shows where it enters the Port.

Note.

  1. The track enters from the North-West corner of the map.
  2. It then splits into two branches.
  3. One branch goes West to the Trinity Terminal.
  4. The second branch goes South into a set of sidings.

It looks to be a well-designed access, to the Felixstowe Branch Line at Trimley station.

The Trinity Terminal At The Port Of Felixstowe

This Google Map shows the Trinity terminal.

Note the rail sidings and the link to the East, which links to the previous map.

This Google Map shows the rail sidings in detail.

I hope the pictures give a clear impression of the size of the port, which in the next few years will probably need more trains to the rest of the country.

There is also a yard that appears to be connected to both the North and South train entrances to the Port.

This yard is shown in this Google Map.

Note, the cranes to lift containers on and off.

Electrification In The Port

Note that there is no electrification in the Port or on the access links from Trimley station.

I once spent half-an-hour with a fellow Ipswich supporter before an away match. He turned out to be a crane driver at the Port of Felixstowe and we got to talking about why the trains weren’t electrified.

He told me that accidents to happen and that you you don’t want high voltage wires about, when you’re swinging containers on and off trains.

Especially, when the trains are close together, as they are in the previous image.

Class 73 Locomotives And The Port Of Felixstowe

The first Class 73 locomotives have now been ordered by Rail Operations Group (UK), and I wrote about the order in Trimode Class 93 Locomotives Ordered By Rail Operations (UK).

What surprised me about the order was that it was for thirty locomotives, whereas only ten were talked about two years ago. I know, that Rail Operations (UK) have received a big capital injection, as was reported in this article on Rail Advent, which is entitled Rail Operations Group Acquired By STAR Capital Partnership. but they must have ambitious plans for thirty locomotives.

Could it be that the specification of these locomotives is geared to operating out of ports like Felixstowe?

Consider.

  • A locomotive probably needs a self-powdered capability to take a heavy train in or out of the Port of Felixstowe.
  • Would a Class 73 locomotive have sufficient range and power to take the average train out of the port using bi-mode diesel and battery power until it arrived at the electrification of the Great Eastern Main Line?
  • How would these locomotives handle a gap like Haughley Junction and Ely?
  • A Class 73 locomotive could probably handle these container trains at 100 mph to and from London on the Great Eastern Main Line, which would keep them out of the way of Greater Anglia’s express trains.
  • What speed would these locomotives be able to achieve under electric power on the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines?
  • The two single-track access links between Trimley station and the Port could be electrified to charge the batteries both ways and to accelerate the train fast out of the Port.

I also feel that other ports would benefit.

Conclusion

I very much feel, that the specification of the Class 93 locomotive with its trimode capability is ideal for working to and from ports and freight terminals.

 

 

 

 

January 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

BNSF and Wabtec Commence Battery-Electric Locomotive Pilot Test In California

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) and Wabtec’s (NYSE: WAB) exploration of the future potential of battery-electric locomotives crosses another significant milestone this week as they begin testing the technology in revenue service between Barstow and Stockton, California. As BNSF seeks ways to further reduce its environmental impact, the advancement of battery technology offers some possible solutions.

“We’ve got everything in place and we’re ready to see how this next-generation locomotive performs in revenue service,” said John Lovenburg, BNSF vice president, Environmental. “BNSF is focused on continuing to reduce our environmental impact, and we’re committed to doing our part to test and assess the commercial viability of emerging technologies that reduce emissions.”

They have also released this video.

It certainly seems to work.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Construction Of Europe’s Largest Rail Intermodal Terminal Starts On Hungary-Ukraine Border

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The construction of Europe’s largest railway intermodal combi terminal East-West Gate (EWG) has begun near the Hungarian-Ukrainian border.

This paragraph sums up the benefits of the new terminal.

‘Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, the EWG intermodal terminal, as the western gateway to the New Silk Road, offers a faster alternative route to Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Germany for freight traffic from Asia than the current land and maritime routes, reads the article.

It is planned to be completed in 2022.

Vlad The Poisoner won’t like it!

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Fuel Cell Enabling Technologies, Inc. Announces First Major Customer, Signs Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Purchase of Fuel Cells for Locomotives

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Fuel Cell Enabling Technologies, Inc. (FCET), a start-up energy technology company that has developed a novel, low-cost solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system, has announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NextGenPropulsion, LLC (NGP) indicating NGP’s intent to purchase FCET fuel cells for NGP light-rail trains and freight locomotives. In addition to fuel cell orders, this would mean engineering collaboration between the two firms, each bringing its specific and considerable expertise to these projects.

I have been saying that hydrogen freight locomotives are certain to be ordered in a few years.

Hydrogen-powered freight locomotives, are in my opinion, the logical way of decarbonising rail freight.

January 5, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shooter Urges Caution On Hydrogen Hubris

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

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter has urges caution about the widespread enthusiasm for hydrogen technology. In his keynote speech to the Golden Spanner Awards on 27 November, Mr. Shooter said the process to create ‘green hydrogen’ by electrolysis is ‘a wasteful use of electricity’ and was skeptical about using electricity to create hydrogen to then use a fuel cell to power a train, rather than charging batteries to power a train. ‘What you will discover is that a hydrogen train uses 3.5 times as much electricity because of inefficiencies in the electrolysis process and also in the fuel cells’ said Mr. Shooter. He also noted the energy density of hydrogen at 350 bar is only one-tenth of a similar quantity of diesel fuel, severely limiting the range of a hydrogen-powered train between refuelling.

Mr. Shooter then made the following points.

  • The complexity of delivering hydrogen to the railway depots.
  • The shorter range available from the amount of hydrogen that can be stored on a train compared to the range of a diesel train.
  • He points out limitations with the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

This is the last paragraph.

Whilst this may have seemed like a challenge designed purely to promote the battery alternatives that Vivarail is developing, and which he believes to be more efficient, Mr. Shooter explained: ‘I think that hydrogen fuel cell trains could work in this country, but people just need to remember that there are downsides. I’m sure we’ll see some, and in fact we should because competition improves the breed.’

i think Mr. Shooter may have made several good points.

These are my thoughts.

Creating Green Hydrogen

I haven’t done an analysis of the costs of creating green hydrogen from electrolysis, but I have a feeling, that electrolysis won’t be the only way to create large amounts of carbon-free hydrogen, in a few years.

These methods are currently available or under development or construction.

  • The hydrogen tram-buses in Pau have a personal electrolyser, that provides hydrogen at 350 bar.
  • London’s hydrogen buses will be provided with hydrogen from an electrolyser at Herne Bay by truck. Will the trucks be hydrogen-powered?

Some industrial processes like the Castner-Kellner process create hydrogen as a by-product.

In Shell Process To Make Blue Hydrogen Production Affordable, I describe the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which appears to be a way of making massive amounts of carbon-free hydrogen for processes like steel-making and cement production. Surely some could be piped or transported by truck to the rail depot.

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I describe how ITM Power and Ørsted plan to create the hydrogen off shore and bring it by pipeline to the shore.

Note.

  1. The last two methods could offer savings in the cost of production of carbon-free hydrogen.
  2. Surely, the delivery trucks if used, must be hydrogen-powered.
  3. The Shell Blue Hydrogen Process uses natural gas as a feedstock and converts it to hydrogen using a newly-developed catalyst. The carbon-dioxide is captured and used or stored.
  4. If the local gas network has been converted to hydrogen, the hydrogen can be delivered to the depot or filling station through that gas network.

I very much feel that affordable hydrogen can be supplied to bus, train, tram or transport depot. For remote or difficult locations. personal electrolysers, powered by renewable electricity, can be used, as at Pau.

Hydrogen Storage On Trains

Liquid hydrogen could be the answer and Airbus are developing methods of storing large quantities on aircraft.

In What Size Of Hydrogen Tank Will Be Needed On A ZEROe Turbofan?, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed for this ZEROe Turbofan.

I calculate that to carry the equivalent amount of fuel to an Airbus A320neo would need a liquid hydrogen tank with a near 100 cubic metre capacity. This sized tank would fit in the rear fuselage.

I feel that in a few years, a hydrogen train will be able to carry enough liquid hydrogen in a fuel tank, but the fuel tank will be large.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed to provide the same amount of energy as that carried in a full diesel tank on a Class 68 locomotive.

The locomotive would need 19,147 litres or 19.15 cubic metres of liquid hydrogen, which could be contained in a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 2 metres and a length of 6 metres.

Hydrogen Locomotives Or Multiple Units?

We have only seen first generation hydrogen trains so far.

This picture shows the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is a conversion of a Coradia Lint.

It is a so-so train and works reasonably well, but the design means there is a lot of transmission noise.

This is a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze or Class 600 train.

Note that the front half of the first car of the train, is taken up with a large hydrogen tank. It will be the same at the other end of the train.

As Mr. Shooter said, Alstom are converting a three-car train into a two-car train. Not all conversions live up to the hype of their proposers.

I would hope that the next generation of a hydrogen train designed from scratch, will be a better design.

I haven’t done any calculations, but I wonder if a lighter weight vehicle may be better.

Hydrogen Locomotives

I do wonder, if hydrogen locomotives are a better bet and easier to design!

  • There is a great need all over the world for zero-carbon locomotives to haul freight trains.
  • Powerful small gas-turbine engines, that can run on liquid hydrogen are becoming available.
  • Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW gas-turbine generator, that is the size of a beer-keg.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I wondered if the Rolls-Royce generator could power a locomotive, the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that there are several routes to a hydrogen-powered railway locomotive and all the components could be fitted into the body of a diesel locomotive the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

Consider.

  • Decarbonising railway locomotives and ships could be a large market.
  • It offers the opportunities of substantial carbon reductions.
  • The small size of the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator must offer advantages.
  • Some current diesel-electric locomotives might be convertible to hydrogen power.

I very much feel that companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins (and Caterpillar!), will move in and attempt to claim this lucrative worldwide market.

In the UK, it might be possible to convert some existing locomotives to zero-carbon, using either liquid hydrogen, biodiesel or aviation biofuel.

Perhaps, hydrogen locomotives could replace Chiltern Railways eight Class 68 locomotives.

  • A refuelling strategy would need to be developed.
  • Emissions and noise, would be reduced in Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations.
  • The rakes of carriages would not need any modifications to use existing stations.

It could be a way to decarbonise Chiltern Railways without full electrification.

It looks to me that a hydrogen-powered locomotive has several advantages over a hydrogen-powered multiple unit.

  • It can carry more fuel.
  • It can be as powerful as required.
  • Locomotives could work in pairs for more power.
  • It is probably easier to accommodate the hydrogen tank.
  • Passenger capacity can be increased, if required by adding more coaches.

It should also be noted that both hydrogen locomotives and multiple units can build heavily on technology being developed for zero-carbon aviation.

The Upward Curve Of Battery Power

Sparking A Revolution is the title an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is mainly an interview with  Andrew Barr of Hitachi Rail.

The article contains a box, called Costs And Power, where this is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2030 and £47/kWh in 3030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) are predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1400 Wh/l in 2-35, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

These are impressive improvements that can only increase the performance and reduce the cost of batteries in all applications.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This infographic gives the specification of Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which they are creating in partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation.

Note that Hitachi are promising a battery life of 8-10 years.

Financing Batteries

This paragraph is from this page on BuyaCar, which is entitled Electric Car Battery Leasing: Should I Lease Or Buy The Batteries?

When you finance or buy a petrol or diesel car it’s pretty simple; the car will be fitted with an engine. However, with some electric cars you have the choice to finance or buy the whole car, or to pay for the car and lease the batteries separately.

I suspect that battery train manufacturers, will offer similar finance models for their products.

This paragraph is from this page on the Hyperdrive Innovation web site.

With a standardised design, our modular product range provides a flexible and scalable battery energy storage solution. Combining a high-performance lithium-ion NMC battery pack with a built in Battery Management System (BMS) our intelligent systems are designed for rapid deployment and volume manufacture, supplying you with class leading energy density and performance.

I can envisage that as a battery train ages, every few years or so, the batteries will get bigger electrically, but still be the same physical size, due to the improvements in battery technology, design and manufacture.

I have been involved in the finance industry both as a part-owner of a small finance company and as a modeller of the dynamics of their lending. It looks to me, that train batteries could be a very suitable asset for financing by a fund. But given the success of energy storage funds like Gore Street and Gresham House, this is not surprising.

I can envisage that battery electric trains will be very operator friendly, as they are likely to get better with age and they will be very finance-friendly.

Charging Battery Trains

I must say something about the charging of battery trains.

Battery trains will need to be charged and various methods are emerging.

Using Existing Electrification

This will probably be one of the most common methods used, as many battery electric services will be run on partly on electrified routes.

Take a typical route for a battery electric train like London Paddington and Oxford.

  • The route is electrified between London Paddington and Didcot Junction.
  • There is no electrification on the 10.4 miles of track between Didcot Junction and Oxford.

If a full battery on the train has sufficient charge to take the train from Didcot Junction to Oxford and back, charging on the main line between London Paddington and Didcot Junction, will be all that will be needed to run the service.

I would expect that in the UK, we’ll be seeing battery trains using both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

Short Lengths Of New Strategic Electrification

I think that Great Western Railway would like to run either of Hitachi’s two proposed battery electric trains to Swansea.

As there is 45.7 miles pf track without .electrification, some form of charging in Swansea station, will probably be necessary.

The easiest way would probably be to electrify Swansea station and perhaps for a short distance to the North.

This Google Map shows Swansea station and the railway leading North.

Note.

  1. There is a Hitachi Rail Depot at the Northern edge of the map.
  2. Swansea station is in South-West corner of the map.
  3. Swansea station has four platforms.

Swansea station would probably make an excellent battery train hub, as trains typically spend enough time in the station to fully charge the batteries before continuing.

There are other tracks and stations of the UK, that I would electrify to enable the running of battery electric trains.

  • Leeds and York, which would enable carbon-free London and Edinburgh services via Leeds and help TransPennine services. This is partially underway.
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – These two sections would enable EMR InterCity services to go battery electric.
  • Sheffield and Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley Dearne Valley and the Wakefield Line, which would enable four trains per hour (tph) between Sheffield and Leeds and an extension of EMR InterCity services to Leeds.
  • Hull and Brough, would enable battery electric services to Hull and Beverley.
  • Scarborough and Seamer, would enable electric services services to Scarborough and between Hull and Scarborough.
  • Middlesbrough and Redcar, would enable electric services services to Teesside.
  • Crewe and Chester and around Llandudno Junction station – These two sections would enable Avanti West Coast service to Holyhead to go battery electric.
  • Shrewsbury station – This could become a battery train hub, as I talked about for Swansea.
  • Taunton and Exeter and around Penzance, Plymouth and Westbury stations – These three sections would enable Great Western Railway to cut a substantial amount of carbon emissions.
  • Exeter, Yeovil Junction and Salisbury stations. – Electrifying these three stations would enable South Western Railway to run between London and Exeter using Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, as I wrote in Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints.

We will also need fast chargers for intermediate stations, so that a train can charge the batteries on a long route.

I know of two fast chargers under development.

I believe it should be possible to battery-electrify a route by doing the following.

  • Add short lengths of electrification and fast charging systems as required.
  • Improve the track, so that trains can use their full performance.
  • Add ERTMS signalling.
  • Add some suitable trains.

Note.

  1. I feel ERTMS  signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be used with automatic charging systems, to make station stops more efficient.
  2. In my view, there is no point in installing better modern trains, unless the track is up to their performance.

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

OptiFuel Systems Announces Natural Gas Freight Locomotive

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rail, marine and generator product supplier OptiFuel Systems has announced that it is ready to manufacture freight locomotives of 1 200 to 2 400 hp fuelled by biomethane and natural gas.

Other points from the article.

  • They are modifying a rail-certified Cummins engine, which has already been used in 12,000 trucks.
  • They are using a modular design, so different power outputs can be provided.
  • It appears they will provide kits to convert existing locomotives.
  • They have a US government grant to build a 4,400 hp or 3.3 MW main line locomotive that can run on renewable natural gas.

This is a quote from OptiFuel President; Scott Myers.

We think that in the next two years there will be a 50-state Low Carbon Fuel Standard programme that includes rail and an extension of the existing federal Alternative Fuel Credit program to include rail. These programmes, just as in trucking and aviation, will provide renewable natural gas to the railroads at a near zero cost and providing them the financial incentive to decarbonise their fleets over the next 15 years.

President Trump was not available for comment.

Renewable Natural Gas

This sounded to me, like the ultimate in greenwashing, when I saw it in this article. The Wikipedia entry for renewable natural gas defines it like this.

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), also known as Sustainable Natural Gas (SNG) or Biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater.

Wikipedia also says this about the creation of renewable natural gas.

The UK National Grid believes that at least 15% of all gas consumed could be made from matter such as sewage, food waste such as food thrown away by supermarkets and restaurants and organic waste created by businesses such as breweries. In the United States, analysis conducted in 2011 by the Gas Technology Institute determined that renewable gas from waste biomass including agricultural waste has the potential to add up to 2.5 quadrillion Btu annually, being enough to meet the natural gas needs of 50% of American homes.

In combination with power-to-gas, whereby the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide fraction of biogas are converted to methane using electrolyzed hydrogen, the renewable gas potential of raw biogas is approximately doubled.

Because of the carbon in the gas and its source, it would appear that it is net zero carbon, rather than the zero carbon of hydrogen. But it does appear, that it would be cheaper to produce than hydrogen.

Conclusion

The United States seems to be researching a route, that will allow them to decarbonise their rail-freight industry.

Application To The United Kingdom

Shown is a Class 66 locomotive.

They are a mainstay of freight in the UK, that are powered by a 3,300 hp diesel engine.

Unfortunately, they are not the most neighbourly of locomotives, which throw out quantities of various pollutants.

Could OptiFuel Systems supply a solution for these locomotives?

December 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Is Sizewell The Ideal Site For A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?

As someone who spent forty years in project management, the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor or SMR could be a project manager’s dream.

Suppose you were putting a fleet of SMRs alongside Sizewell B.

This Google Map shows the current Sizewell site.

Sizewell A power station, with Sizewell B to its North, is on the coast.

This second Google Map shows the power stations to an enlarged scale.

Note the white dome in the middle of Sizewell B.

Sizewell A

Sizewell A power station was shut down at the end of 2006 and is still being decommissioned, according to this extract from Wikipedia.

The power station was shut down on 31 December 2006. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is responsible for placing contracts for the decommissioning of Sizewell A, at a budgeted cost of £1.2 billion. Defuelling and removal of most buildings is expected to take until 2034, followed by a care and maintenance phase from 2034 to 2092. Demolition of reactor buildings and final site clearance is planned for 2088 to 2098.

Only a few of those, reading this post, will be around to see the final end of Sizewell A.

Note that the size of the Sizewell A site is 245 acres.

It appears to me, that if any power station will be able to be built on the cleared site of Sizewell A, until the late 2080s or 2090s.

Sizewell B

Sizewell B power station opened in 1995 and was originally planned to close in 2035. The owner; EDF Energy, has applied for a twenty-year extension to 2055.

Sizewell C

Sizewell C power station is currently under discussion.

  • It will be built by the French, with the help of Chinese money.
  • It will have an output of 3260 MW or 3.26 GW.
  • It will cost £18 billion.
  • It will take twelve years to build.

This Google Map shows Sizewell B and the are to the North.

I would assume it will be built in this area.

 

A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

These are my thoughts on building a fleet of SMRs at Sizewell instead of the proposed Sizewell C.

Land Use

In Rolls-Royce signs MoU With Exelon For Compact Nuclear Power Stations, I gave these details of the Rolls-Royce design of SMR.

  • A Rolls-Royce SMR has an output of 440 MW.
  • The target cost is £1.8 billion for the fifth unit built
  • Each SMR will occupy 10 acres.
  • Eight SMRs would need to be built to match the output of Hinckley Point C, which will occupy 430 acres.

It looks on a simple calculation, that even if the SMRs needed fifteen acres, the amount of land needed would be a lot less.

Connection To The National Grid

The transmission line to the National Grid is already in place.

This Google Map shows the sub-station, which is to the South-West of Sizewell A.

From Sizewell, there is a massive twin overhead line to Ipswich.

This Google Map shows the overhead line as it crosses Junction 53 of the A14 to the West of Ipswich.

The pylons are in the centre of the map, with the wires going across.

The line has been built for a massive amount of nuclear power at Sizewell.

The Sizewell Railhead

This Google Map shows the railhead at Sizewell.

It can also be picked out in the South West corner of the first map.

  • The railhead is used to take out spent fuel for processing.
  • In the past, it brought in construction materials.
  • Wikipedia suggests if the Sizewell C is built, the might be a new railhead closer to the site.
  • If a fleet of SMRs were to be built, as the modules are transportable by truck, surely they could be move in by rail to avoid the roads in the area.
  • I am an advocate of reinstating the railway from Saxmundham to Aldeburgh, as this would be a way of doubling the frequency on the Southern section of the East Suffolk Line between Saxmundham and Ipswich stations.

I hope that whatever is built at Sizewell, that the rail lines in the area is developed to ease construction, get workers to the site and improve rail services on the East Suffolk Line.

Building A Fleet Of SMRs

One of the disadvantages of a large nuclear power station, is that you can’t get any power from the system until it is complete.

This of course applies to each of the individual units, but because they are smaller and created from a series of modules built in a factory, construction of each member of the fleet should be much quicker.

  • Rolls-Royce are aiming for a construction time of 500 days, from the fifth unit off the production line.
  • That would mean, that from Day 501, it could be producing power and earning money to pay for its siblings.
  • If the eight units were built in series, that would take eleven years to build a fleet of eight.

But as anybody, who has built anything even as humble as a garden shed knows, you build anything in a series of tasks, starting with the foundations.

I suspect that if a fleet were being built, that construction and assembly would overlap, so the total construction time could be reduced.

That’s one of the reasons, I said that building a fleet could be a project manager’s dream.

I suspect that if the project management was top-class, then a build time for a fleet of eight reactors could be nine years or less.

Resources are often a big problem in large projects.

But in a phased program, with the eight units assembled in turn over a number of years, I think things could be a lot easier.

Financing A Fleet Of SMRs

I think that this could be a big advantage of a fleet of SMRs over a large conventional large nuclear power station.

Consider

  • I said earlier, that as each unit was completed, it could be producing power and earning money to pay for its siblings.
  • Hinckley Point C is budgeted to cost £18 billion.
  • Eight Rolls-Royce SMRs could cost only £14.4 billion.

I very much feel that, as you would get a cash-flow from Day 500 and the fleet costs less, that the fleet of smaller stations is easier to finance.

Safety

SMRs will be built to the same safety standards as all the other UK reactors.

In this section on Wikipedia this is said about the Rolls-Royce SMR.

Rolls-Royce is preparing a close-coupled three-loop PWR design, sometimes called the UK SMR.

PWRs or pressurised water reactors are the most common nuclear reactors in the world and their regulation and safety is well-understood.

This is from the History section of their Wikipedia entry.

Several hundred PWRs are used for marine propulsion in aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and ice breakers. In the US, they were originally designed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for use as a nuclear submarine power plant with a fully operational submarine power plant located at the Idaho National Laboratory. Follow-on work was conducted by Westinghouse Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

Rolls-Royce have a long history of building PWRs, and Rolls-Royce PWRs have been installed in all the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines except the first. The Royal Navy’s second nuclear submarine; HMS Valiant, which entered service in 1966, was the first to be powered by a Rolls-Royce PWR.

How much of the design and experience of the nuclear submarine powerplant is carried over into the design of the Rolls-Royce SMR?

I don’t know much about the safety of nuclear power plants, but I would expect that if there was a very serious accident in a small reactor, it would be less serious than a similar accident in a large one.

Also, as the reactors in a fleet would probably be independent of each other, it is unlikely that a fault in one reactor should affect its siblings.

Local Reaction

I lived in the area, when Sizewell B was built and I also went over Sizewell A, whilst it was working.

From personal experience, I believe that many in Suffolk would welcome a fleet of SMRs.

  • Sizewell B brought a lot of employment to the area.
  • House prices rose!
  • Both Sizewell A and B have been well-run incident-free plants

Like me, some would doubt the wisdom of having a Chinese-funded Sizewell C.

Conclusion

Big nuclear has been out-performed by Rolls-Royce

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment