The Anonymous Widower

Railfreight Goes Back To Diesel As Electricity Costs Soar

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

This is the first paragraph.

Some rail freight operators have abandoned electric traction, at least for now, because the price of electricity has been rising sharply. The electricity tariffs include a 40 per cent renewable energy tax, and following the latest rises diesel traction is now cheaper. The drivers’ union ASLEF is calling for the government to intervene, but Freightliner has already taken action.

This quote from the article is from ASLEF General Secretary; Mick Whelan.

Moving freight by rail rather than road is, inherently, a carbon-efficient mode of transport and an environmentally-friendly way of doing business. Electric-hauled freight services reduce emissions by 99 per cent; even moving goods by diesel traction reduces emissions by 76 per cent.

It looks to me, that a reputable and trusted environmental economist could come up with a compromise price and possibly a solution to improve the situation.

Possible solutions could include.

  • Use of Biodiesel or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil
  • More energy storage.

Surely, though, the long term solution is hydrogen-powered locomotives. or dual-fuel locomotives, as I wrote about in Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

 

October 20, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wagons Roll For Freightliner UK

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

This is the first paragraph.

UK operator Freightliner has taken delivery of the first batch of new FFA-G wagons for UK operations. The forty wagons have arrived in the UK from Poland, adding to the intermodal fleet of the operator. The entire order, for 230 wagons will be delivered by the end of November 2021.

The wagons have been designed for efficiency and being able to take a forty foot container anywhere on the UK’s network with a loading gauge of W10.

 

 

October 20, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Freight On The East West Main Line

This page on the East West Main Line Partnership web site, describes their ambitions towards freight.

This is said.

The freight and logistics sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Greater use of rail for freight and logistics provides additional resilience for the business community, while also acting on the need to achieve net zero.

Whilst not part of East West Rail, removing the bottlenecks on the Felixstowe to Midlands
corridor remains an immediate strategic priority for three sub-national transport bodies (England’s Economic Heartland, Transport East and Midlands Connect wrote to the Chancellor in this regard in July 2020).

However, the design and operation of the East West Main Line should take into account and contribute to the delivery of the requirements of the national rail freight strategy. In due course Great British Railways will have a statutory duty to consider the needs of rail freight and to take those needs into account in planning the future of the rail network.

It is therefore important that the East West Main Line is designed and delivered with the capability of supporting rail freight services without the need for additional works. In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

I have my thoughts.

Cutting Carbon Emissions In The Freight Sector

The obvious way to do this, would be to electrify every line in the country and purchase a new fleet of electric freight locomotives.

But the problems with this are the expense, disruption and timescale, it would take to replace all the locomotives and put up electrification on every line that might possibly be used by freight trains and  locomotives.

A solution is needed now, not in ten years.

But there are already solutions being demonstrated or developed that will cut carbon emissions from locomotives.

  • Stadler bi-mode Class 88 locomotives are already hauling freight trains and cutting emissions by using electric power where possible. But there are only ten of these locomotives.
  • The thirty Stadler tri-mode Class 93 locomotives on order for Rail Operations Group could or well be a game-changer. It is already known, that they will be able to cruise at 100 mph using electrification, so they will be able to mix it with the expresses on the Great Eastern Main Line. I suspect that these locomotives have been designed to be able to haul freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe, by juggling the power sources.
  • In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, I describe how Clean Air Power are converting a Class 66 locomotive to run on both diesel and hydrogen. This could be a very fruitful route, especially, if the diesel-electric Class 66 locomotives could be fitted with a pantograph to use electrification where it exists.
  • I have been very impressed with the work Wabtec have done to convert a large American diesel-electric locomotive into a battery electric locomotive. I wrote about it in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh. In Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?, I concluded that it might be possible to convert Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives using Wabtec’s technology.
  • In Powered By HVO, I talk about DB Cargo’s use of HVO to cut carbon emissions.

I am also sure that there are probably other solutions to decarbonise freight locomotives under development.

I would hope that over the next few years the amount of diesel fuel used in the freight sector will decrease significantly.

Improved Freight Routes

Currently, freight trains to and from Felixstowe take one of these routes.

  1. Via London – Using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line or Gospel Oak and Barking Line, and the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Via Nuneaton – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Peterborough and Leicester before joining the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.
  3. Via Peterborough – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely and Peterborough before taking the East Coast Main Line or the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln.

The first two routes routes have capacity problems, whereas the third route has been improved by the use of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line.

Problems on the first two routes include

  • The Great Eastern Main Line is only dual-track.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London are at full capacity.
  • The route via Nuneaton does not have much electrification.

The East West Main Line will open up a new route directly across the country for some services, that currently go via the London or Nuneaton routes.

  • Felixstowe and Birmingham
  • Felixstowe and Glasgow
  • Felixstowe and Liverpool
  • Felixstowe and Manchester

These services could use the East West Main Line to connect with the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley, if the track were to be modified.

In addition services between Felixstowe and South Wales and the West Country could use the East West Main Line to Oxford and then join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot.

The East West Main Line could reduce the number of freight trains on these routes.

  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak and Barking Line
  • Peterborough and Leicester Line

The first three lines are certainly at capacity.

The Newmarket Problem

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common, I talked about previous plans of the East West Rail Consortium, who were the predecessor of the East West Main Line Partnership for the rail line between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge through Newmarket.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I have a feeling that if this plan were to be pursued, the Racing Industry in Newmarket wouldn’t be too keen on all the freight trains passing through the town.

Knowing the town and the racing industry and horses, as I do, I suspect that there will need to be serious noise mitigation measures through the town.

One would probably be a noise limit on the trains passing through, which might be very difficult for long freight trains, even if hauled by a much quieter battery-electric or hydrogen-powered locomotive.

Were the East West Main Line Partnership thinking of Newmarket, when they wrote the last sentence of the web page for freight.

In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

Newmarket is a unique town with a strong character and you shouldn’t take the town on lightly.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

Route Map Of The East West Main Line

 

 

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New 775m-Long Freight Trains Begin Operating On UK’s Rail Network

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on Global Railway Review.

This is the first paragraph.

DP World have announced that its two deep-water ports at Southampton and London Gateway have become the first in the UK capable of handling Freightliner’s new 775m-long intermodal container trains.

It appears from the article that Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds can also handle these longer trains.

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Construction Ramps Up At £260 Million Mossend International Railfreight Park In Scotland

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

This is the first paragraph.

The development of a major new low carbon, multi-modal rail freight facility located in the heart of Scotland has taken a significant step forward with the laying of a private rail track to facilitate construction. Once complete, Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP) will provide 2.2 million sq ft of logistics space and Scotland’s first 775-metre electric rail terminal.

This looks to be all good stuff.

But Glasgow has needed the capability to handle 775-metre electric freight trains for some time.

So what took politicians so long to decide to upgrade the MIRP, as surely the ability to handle the longest electric freight trains will surely encourage the following?

  • The movement of freight from road to rail.
  • A reduction in freight traffic on the roads of Scotland and to a lesser extend England.
  • The ability to run electric freight trains between Glasgow and Continental Europe.

If freight ramps up after the MIRP is completed, there’ll probably be a need for the following.

Some new highly capable locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive.

More than the proposed 16 trains per day (tpd).

They will certainly need the planned 24/7 operation.

This Google Map shows the site of the MIRP at the current time.

It will be interesting to see how the site grows.

 

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getlink And CargoBeamer Team Up To Launch The First Unaccompanied Cross-Channel Service By Rail

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Getlink.

This is the first paragraph and a half.

Eurotunnel and CargoBeamer have signed a partnership which will see the launch of a new, 100% unaccompanied rail freight transport service across the Short Straits, from Calais to Ashford.

The extension of the rolling motorway from Perpignan to Ashford is a logical step in developing a future international intermodal network between the Channel and the Mediterranean. A second route from Domodossola, in the Alps region, to Calais will also be extended to Ashford after its launch in early October.

These are other points from the press release.

  • Both new railway services will prevent 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
  • They will help to partially resolve the shortage of truck drivers in the UK and Europe.
  • They will relieve traffic congestion on motorways.

It sounds like it could be a worthwhile service with more than the obvious winners.

Who Is CargoBeamer?

This is their web site and it displays an introductory video and this mission statement.

The Road to Rail Sustainable Transport Solutions

CargoBeamer use specially designed rail wagons and this page, which is entitled The Unique CargoBeamer Technology, explains how it works.

This is a claim from the web site.

As soon as the train has arrived, all semi-trailers are transferred automatically and with the simple push of a button. It takes CargoBeamer just 20 minutes to unload 36 semi-trailers from an intermodal train and load the same number at the same time. Both steps simply happen simultaneously. By comparison, a conventional crane terminal needs around three to four hours to handle such a train.

That is certainly not slow.

This video gives a full explanation about how CargoBeamer works.

Note.

  1. They can carry all types of trailers.
  2. The video shows the terminal built on a straight single-track line, where freight trains enter, load and unload and leave.

I must admit I like the design of the terminals, which they describe as Compact2 and Compact3, which gives a clue as to their design.

Their first terminal has opened in Calais and is described in this Press Release, which is entitled CargoBeamer Opens Terminal In Calais.

What Routes Are CargoBeamer Planning?

According to their web site, CargoBeamer have opened or are planning terminals at the following places.

  • Ashford – UK
  • Calais – France
  • Domodossola – Italy
  • Duisburg – Germany
  • KaldenKirchen – Germany
  • Perpignan – France
  • Poznan – Poland

Routes opened or planned include.

  • Domodossola – Calais – Ashford
  • KaldenKirchen – Domodossola
  • Perpignan – Calais – Ashford
  • Poznan – Duisburg

You can certainly understand, why Calais is their first terminal.

Serving The UK 

 

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled CargoBeamer Network Extended To The UK.

This is a paragraph.

Eurotunnnel told Railway Gazette International the aim was to build up to operating whole trains through the tunnel as the market develops, and ultimately to run trains to destinations further inland.

That seems a clear statement of intent.

Ashford could be an easy terminal to develop and I suspect it could be between Ashford and Folkestone, where the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the M20 run close together. The compact size of the terminal would surely help.

The other sensible place for a terminal would be Barking, which can accept trains to the larger European gauge.

But it would be convenient, if trains could be run through the Channel Tunnel to places like Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland.

Gauge clearance of routes to the European size would be a challenging, expensive and disruptive process.

But in Gauge Improvements Across London, I indicated that an enhanced gauge of W12 could be possible through London on the Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines.

But seeing that CargoBeamer appear to be targeting the UK, perhaps they have an innovative wagon design for services to the UK, which could have a height limit for trucks.

September 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘Dramatically More Powerful’: World’s First Battery-Electric Freight Train Unveiled

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

It is a good article about Wabtec’s new FLXdrive battery train and is very positive about it coming from a typical Guardian direction.

The article is a must-read.

I am beginning to feel that what Wabtec has done is to create a practical and affordable solution, that will cut carbon emissions in a difficult area, that produces the figures and also is understandable by diverse groups, like journalists, politicians and environmentalists. And they are backing it with academic research from a good university.

I also believe that the technology can be applied to existing locomotives as I outlined in Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?.

Could this be another example of positive environmental change brought about by when the big beasts play their cards in the jungle?

Going green is a way of company survival! And Wabtec are going in that direction.

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

Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?

This picture shows a Freightliner Class 66 locomotive passing through Stratford with a multimodal freight train.

These are a few thoughts on converting some of the four hundred and eighty Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric trains.

An Estimate Of Performance Of A Battery Electric Class 66 Locomotive

In Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive, I said this about a UK-sized locomotive based on Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric technology.

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power, doing the sort of duties that Class 66 locomotives do!

So it would be able to take a multimodal container train out of the Port of Felixstowe to the electrification at Ipswich.

The Class 66 Locomotive Is Diesel-Electric

The Class 66 locomotive is a diesel-electric locomotive, where the diesel engine drives an alternator, which generates electricity, which then powers the six traction motors, which are arranged, so that there is one on each of the six axles.

This should make conversion easier, as the heavy lump of the engine and the alternator would be replaced with a large number of lithium-ion batteries.

Wabtec Has A Modular Battery System

This article on Railway Age gives a lot of detail and several pictures of the modular FLXdrive battery system.

  • Each module is a 4.9 kWh battery, that weighs 72.6 Kg.
  • Batteries are arranged into strings, which feed the traction motors.
  • There is a sophisticated control system, which ensures that a module failure doesn’t disable the locomotive.
  • The battery system is air-cooled.

I would expect that Wabtec could arrange a number of modules in the stripped out body of a Class 66 locomotive.

The FLXdrive Battery System Handles Regenerative Barking

The Railway Age article says this.

Battery charging while the FLXdrive is operating occurs through regenerative dynamic braking.

This will certainly improve efficiency.

Could A Pantograph Be Fitted To A Class 66 Locomotive?

This picture of a Class 66 locomotive was taken at Peterborough.

Note the 25 KVAC overhead electrification and the gap between the wires and the roof of the locomotive.

I don’t think it would the toughest job to design a pantograph for a Class 66 locomotive.

What Would Be The Use Of A Battery Electric Class 66 Locomotive With A Fifty Mile Range?

I believe that a surprising number of duties currently handled by Class 66 locomotives could be performed by a battery-electric Class 66 locomotive.

  • The locomotives would effectively be electric locomotives with a last fifty mile capability.
  • The number of possible duties will increase as electrification increases.
  • They would be ideal to support track maintenance activities.
  • They would be a zero-carbon locomotive with a low noise footprint.

As I said earlier, they would be able to haul a heavy intermodal train out of the Port of Felixstowe.

Conclusion

I am not a lover of the smelly, noisy and polluting diesel Class 66 locomotives, but it does look it could be possible to convert some into battery-electric locomotives.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wabtec convert some Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives.

I also believe, that conversion of Class 66 locomotives to battery-electric operation could be the most affordable way to decarbonise the rail freight.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Mining company Roy Hill has ordered a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric heavy-haul freight locomotive. This will replace one the four ES44ACi diesel-electric locos used to haul its 2 700 m long iron ore trains, and is expected to reduce fuel costs and emissions by ‘double digit’ percentages while also cutting maintenance costs.

The locomotive is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. It will have a capacity of 7 MWh, an upgrade from the 2·4 MWh prototype which Wabtec and BNSF tested in revenue service in California earlier this year.

Note.

  1. It will have a 7 MWh battery.
  2. 2700 metres is 1.6 miles.

It looks to me, that the three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive are arranged as a massive hybrid locomotive and I suspect that with sophisticated control systems, those double digit cuts in fuel costs and emissions would be possible.

A couple of years ago, I took this picture near Shenfield.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

  • The Class 90 locomotive has an TDM system for multiple working.
  • The Class 66 locomotive has an AAR system for multiple working.

So does this mean that the two locomotives can’t work together, which if it does begs the question of what is happening.

  • Had the Class 66 locomotive failed and Class 90 was acting as a Thunderbird?
  • Was the Class 66 locomotive being moved from one depot to another for maintenance or repair?
  • Was it an experiment to see if the two locomotives could work together?

I sometimes think that I didn’t see this unusual formation, but then the camera doesn’t lie.

But could we learn from what Wabtec are doing for Roy Hill in Australia?

The Class 93 Locomotive

Rail Operations Group have already ordered thirty Class 93 tri-mode locomotives from Stadler, which have following power ratings.

  • Electric – 4000 kW
  • Diesel – 900 kW
  • Hybrid – 1300 kW

If this locomotive is capable of hauling the heaviest intermodal freight trains out of Felixstowe, Southampton and other ports and freight terminals, it could contribute to substantial  reductions in the diesel fuel used and emissions.

As an example, I will use a freight train between Felixstowe North Terminal and Trafford Park Euro Terminal.

  • It is a route of 280 miles.
  • I will ignore that it goes along the North London Line through North London and along the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • There is fifteen miles without electrification at the  Felixstowe end.
  • There is under three miles without electrification at the  Manchester end.

On this service , it could be as much as 94 % of diesel and emissions are saved, if the Class 93 locomotive can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe. A few miles of strategically-placed electrification at the Ipswich end would help, if required.

It must also be born in mind, that the Class 93 locomotive is a 110 mph locomotive on electric power and could probably do the following.

  • Run at 100 mph on the busy Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Run at faster speeds on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Fit in well with the 100 mph passenger trains, that run on both routes.

So not only does it save diesel and carbon emissions, but it will save time and make the freight train easier to timetable on a route with lots of 100 mph passenger trains.

The Class 93 locomotive looks like it could be a game-changer for long-distance intermodal freight, especially, if there were short sections of strategically-placed electrification, added to the electrified network.

Emissions could also be reduced further by using some for of sustainable fuel.

The picture shows a Class 66 locomotive, which is powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil  or HVO.

I can see that all diesel-powered trains and locomotives will be powered by sustainable fuels by the end of this decade.

A Wabtec Battery-Electric Locomotive

Wabtec is building a battery-electric locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

This article on Railway Age talks about Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery locomotives and describes some features of the locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

It mentions pantographs and overhead wires to charge the batteries.

  • Wabtec’s prototype battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 2.4 MWh
  • The Roy Hill battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 7 MWh

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power.

I think this locomotive could handle these routes.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster via the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln, with some form of charging at halfway.
  • Felixstowe and Nuneaton, with some extra electrification at some point between Peterborough and Leicester.
  • Oxford and Birmingham, with possibly some extra electrification in the middle.

One option for charging electrification, would surely be to electrify passing loops.

I think a battery-electric locomtive based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology could be a very useful locomotive.

Could Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive Pair-Up With A Class 66 Locomotive?

Roy Hill will use their locomotive to form a consist of three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive to obtain double-digit savings of fuel and emissions, when hauling iron-ore trains that are 1.6 miles long on a route of 214 miles.

We don’t have massive iron-ore trains like this, but we do move huge quantities of segregates and stone around the country in trains generally hauled by Class 66 locomotives.

So could a Class 66 or another suitable locomotive be paired-up with a battery-electric locomotive to make savings of fuel and emissions?

I would suggest that if it works in Australia, the technology will probably work in the UK.

The biggest problem for Wabtec is that the heavy end of the market may well be a good one for hydrogen-powered locomotives. But Wabtec are going down that route too!

Conclusion

I am convinced that the two decarbonisation routes I have outlined here are viable for the UK.

But I also feel that locomotive manufacturers will produce hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Other companies like Alstom, Siemens and Talgo will also offer innovative solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Getlink Launches A New Innovative Unaccompanied Rail Freight Cross-Channel Service

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

From September 18, 2021, a new cross-Channel freight service will be open to all transporters, using an unaccompanied mode through the Channel Tunnel. The service will benefit of Getlink’s unique customs expertise for the passage through the border

The crossing will be managed by Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Freight and will operate 24 hours a day and six days per week. Departures will be from the Group’s two terminals in Calais or Folkestone. The capacity will be 8,300 trailers per year. The Eurotunnel Border Pass will allows transporters to speed up the border crossing by digitising their administrative exchanges with the border authorities.

The service is designed to compliment the decarbonisation plans of both the French and UK Governments.

It looks like this could be a sensible idea.

But 8,300 trailers per year only equates to around 26-27 trailers per day. So do they just fill up one train per day?

One article on the Getlink service says that DFDS have launched a rival service for unaccompanied trailers between Calais and Sheerness.

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