The Anonymous Widower

The Relaxed Pace Of German Commuter Stations

I am at Buxtehade station on the outskirts of Hamburg and the area looks like it could be a suburb typical of those around big cities all over the world. But it is so relaxed compared to others I’ve visited.

Note.

  1. The diesel-hauled commuter service running under wires.
  2. No-one and the trains don’t seem to be in a hurry despite it being around nine in the morning.
  3. Trains seem to wait several minutes at each station.
  4. Staff were not to be seen.

In addition, there was absolutely no information about the hydrogen trains, that I could find.

 

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Engine Change At Bad Bentheim

I’m on a train frim Amsterdam to Osnabruck. The train, which goes all the way to Berlin, is not very fast, but they’ve now stopped for ten minutes, whilst the Dutch engine is changed for a German one! Can’t both railway companies use the dame Euro-blighter and just have a change of drivers, as we do on Anglo-Scottish services.

Surely, these are the problems that the EU should solve. Or do German and Dutch rail unions make the RMT look like pussy-cats?

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Full-Barrier Level Crossing For Pedestrians And Cyclists At Bremervörde Station

I photographed this full-barrier level crossing For pedestrians and cyclists At Bremervörde station.

I watched the crossing for several minutes as my train waited for a green signal and pedestrians and cyclists crossed safely at times when the barriers were up. The barrier were also lowered, so that a train could proceed into the nearby depot.

Nobody seemed to disregard the barriers.

Perhaps, though the Germans are better than obeying orders than we are? Although, walking about Hamburg, I did feel that German pedestrians cross in more dangerous ways, than Londoners do.

Surely, if the Germans can put in this level crossing under the same European Health and Safety rules as we use, then we can do the same?

September 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

An Analysis Of The Route Between Buxtehude And Cuxhaven

Alstom have chosen the route between Buxtehude and Cuxhaven, as the launch route for their hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint train.

I’ll now look at the route.

Buxtehude Station

Buxtehude station is on the outskirts of Hamburg.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. There is a double-track electrified line through the station.
  2. There appears to be a West-facing bay platform, which conveniently has what looks to be a train in DB red, in the platform.

Services at Buxtehude include.

  1. Line S3 of the Hamburg S-Bahn between Pinneberg  and Stade. This line appears to be electrified with 15 KVAC overhead wires.
  2. Service RE 5 between Cuxhaven and Hamburg via Otterndorf, Stade and Buxtehude. This route is only electrified between Hamburg and Stade.
  3. Service RE 33 between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude via Bremerhaven and Bremervörde. This route is not electrified.

Service three is the one that from yesterday has been run by the Coradia iLint trains.

Between Buxtehude And Bremervörde

I followed this route in my helicopter and it is a single-track line through reasonably open country with in places trees along the line.

If this line was in the UK, it would be something like the Breckland Line or Great Eastern Main Line. through Norfolk, both of which have an operating speed of between 140-160 kph.

So I wouldn’t be surprised that the Coradia iLint could be almost at its maximum speed of 140 kph for long periods between stations.

Bremervörde Station

This Google Map shows Bremervörde station.

It would appear to be on a large site and there might even be a depot.

There’s certainly space to add a couple of large wind turbines to generate electricity, that could be used to create hydrogen through electrolysis.

Between Bremervörde And Bremerhafen HBf

As with the line to the East of Bremervörde, it is fairly straight across what appears to be fairly flat and through a mixture of open countryside and woodland.

This Google Map shows Bremerhafen Wulfdorf station.

The line from Buxtehude can be seen joining from the East.

The line is electrified to Bremerhafen HBf station.

So will the Coradia iLint trains change to overhead power at Bremerhafen Wulfdorf?

From Bremerhafen HBf To Cuxhaven

This Google Map shows Bremerhaven HBf station.

It looks to be a typical functional German station with four platforms, which are all electrified.

The electrification continues Northwards for a few kilometres, but once out of Bremerhaven, the line becomes single track without electrification.

I found this passing loop at the two-platform Dorum station, shown here on a Google Map.

Note how the tracks go either side of an island platform.

I suspect there are other places for trains to pass or they could easily be created.

The route ends at Cuxhaven station, shown in this Google Map.

In addition to the service to Buxtehude, there is also a another service on a shorter and more direct route to Hamburg along the estuary of the River Elbe.

Summing up this section of the route.

  • It is single-track with at least one passing loop.
  • There are just four stations.
  • It is electrified for a few miles at the Southern end.

I’ve also never seen a line with so many level crossings.

Services Between Cuxhaven And Buxtehude Via Bremerhaven HBf

The current service is hourly, with what looks to be these timings.

  • Buxtehude to Bremerhaven HBf  – 1:43 – Incldes 14 stops
  • Bremerhaven HBf to Buxtehude – 1:37
  • Bremerhaven HBf to Cuxhaven  0:51 – Includes 4 stops
  • Cuxhaven to Bremerhaven HBf – 0:44
  • Buxtehude to Cuxhaven – 2:34
  • Cuxhaven to Buxtehude – 2:21

Turnrounds are the following times.

Buxtehute – 28 minutes

Cuxhaven – 12 minutes

This gives a round trip of five hours and thirty-five minutes.

So it would appear that at least five Coradia Lint 41 trains are needed to provide the service.

Coradia Lint Trains

From what I can find on the Internet, the Coradia Lint trains are diesel-mechanical units, where the wheels are driven directly from the two diesel engines.

I’m not sure, but the engines may be mounted under the cabs!

Coradia iLint Trains

I suspect that the hydrogen-powered iLint trains could be driven by simply replacing the diesel engine, with a suitable traction motor.

What surprises me, is that there appears to be no plans to fit a pantograph  to the iLint, so that the intelligent brain on the train can use overhead electrification, when it exists.

This would mean that the range of the train on hydrogen would be increased, if the route was partially electrified.

Coradia iLint Trains Between Buxtehude to Cuxhaven

On the Buxtehude to Cuxhaven route, using electrification could be used to advantage to power the train and charge the batteries  through Bremerhaven, where about ten kilometres is electrified using 15 KVAC overhead wires.

Also, in Buxtehude station, which has 15 KVAC electrification on other lines, the bay platform that it appears will be used for the hydrogen-powered trains could be electrified to charge the batteries, during the  twenty-eight minutes, that the train is in the station. Perhaps, they could use a system such as I wrote about in Is This The Solution To A Charging Station For Battery Trains?

A similar system could be installed at Cuxhaven.

Surely, it is better to use the turnround times at each end of the route to charge the batteries, as this means less hydrogen will be consumed and the train’s range on a tankful will be increased!

There is an interesting comparison to be made here, with a route, I know well in the UK; Cambridge to Norwich.

  • Both routes are around 100 km.
  • Both routes are fairly flat and reasonably straight.
  • The operating speed of the UK line is 140 kph and I suspect the German line is about the same.
  • The UK line has six intermediate stops, whereas the German route has fourteen stops.
  • Both lines are run by diesel trains with similar operating speeds.

But the UK route is timed at one hour and nineteen minutes, as opposed to the two hours thirty-four minutes of the German one.

The German route does have twelve more stops, but even if two minutes is allowed for each stop, that doesn’t explain the difference.

The German route must be run at a slower speed than the UK one.

As the Germans improve the speed, journey times will surely reduce.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that Buxtehude to Cuxhaven route is an ideal route on which to test hydrogen-powered trains, but that as the trains develop, journey times will reduce substantially.

 

 

September 18, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tendering Begins For German Hydrogen Train Order

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the International Railway Journal.

This is the first paragraph.

 Rhine-Main Vehicle Management (Fahma), a subsidiary of Rhine-Main Transport Authority (RMV), published a tender notice in the Official Journal of the European Union on April 20 for a contract to supply a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell multiple units for regional services on non-electrified lines in the Taunus area of Hessen.

But then the Germans seem to be much easier to use gases of various types to solve problems, than other countries.

I’ve spoken about hydrogen trains to people in Germany and the UK and the Germans are more enthusiastic, whereas the Brits just question hydrogen’s ability to catch fire.

Perhaps, Gemans teach chemistry better?

Who knows? But the orders for hydrogen trains keep coming.

 

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Do We Buy More Trains Than The Germans?

I ask this question with respect to the Germans, but I could ask the question with respect to the French, Italians or Spanish.

On my recent trip to Germany, the frequiency seemed to be less than I could expect in a similar route in the UK.

A a simple example, the frequency on the S-Bahn across Berlin, appeared to be very much inferior to London Overground’s East London Line.

There are possible reasons.

  • Our signalling systems have a higher capacity.
  • Train dwell times at stations are less.
  • We have more trains on the route.
  • Politics between Deutsche Bahn and the Local Authority get in the way.

Trains certainly don’t appear to be as frequent in Germany.

March 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | | 2 Comments

Gluten Not Optional

I spent last night in the Ibis hotel at Karlsruhe and had a very good supper in Baden-Baden.

This morning, I’m on my way to Stuttgart, so I thought I’d pick up something at the station.

Usually, on German stations, I can find something like fruit, but here there were nothing gluten-free except a bag of McDonald’s fries, coffee etc and water.

I assume all German coeliacs are stick-thib, as they aren’t allowed to collect snacks on the run!

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment

Germany’s Next Top Model

I found this advert in several cities I visited in Germany.

I’m nopt bothered but, would an advert like this be allowed in the UK?

February 11, 2018 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

Gibb Report – Depot Issues

The Gibb Report, looks in detail at GTR’s depot capacity and especially the stabling for Thameslink.

The section on depots starts like this.

The way in which the train fleet has expanded in recent years has resulted in a shortage of stabling facilities. New facilities have been located away from train crew depots (e.g. Hove from Brighton) and are less efficient, involving driver time in taxis. Siemens new depot at Three Bridges is now the main centre for the Thameslink fleet, and overall the depot capacity on Southern is just about sufficient from what I have seen, although it is inflexible and inefficient.

It then goes on to list problems at specific locations.

Ashford

Perhaps the late choice of Maidstone East station, as a terminus, has meant that a site hasn’t really been found for a depot at Ashford.

Bedford

The depot is unsuitable for 12-car fixed formation Class 700 trains, which block the entrance.

Cambridge

The facility is currently unsuitable for 12 car fixed formation trains and the current trains have to be uncoupled to be accommodated.

North Kent

The original plan was to increase stabling facilities at Slade Green, but this has now been established to cost £72m and too expensive. An alternative is urgently needed.

The report sums up the depot issues like this.

All of the above issues need to be finalised before the driver recruitment plans can be commenced, as the driver recruitment strategy must be decided around the stabling locations of the trains, and driver depot facilities, including parking, must be included in the scheme
implementation.

It also goes on to say, that more trains may need to be ordered to increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line and that a new depot will be needed.

Bombardier’s Class 345 Trains For Crossrail

Before I add my fourpennyworth on depot issues, I will look at some of the features of Bombardier’s Class 345 trains.

All Trains Are The Same Length

It is intended that all trains will be the same nine-car length, although at the present time, the trains under test in East London are a couple of cars short of a full train.

This is mainly because the platforms in Liverpool Street, are not long enough for a full train and won’t be lengthened until a year or so.

I suspect too, it enables Bombardier to build the trains in a more efficient manner and test out each type of coach fully.

One of the advantages in having all trains of the same length, is that you maximise the capacity in a depot and as on both routes, the manufacturer pays for the main depots, a correctly-sized depot will reduce costs.

Note that Thameslink’s main depots don’t seem to have issues, so can we assume they were well-designed?

The Class 345 Trains Have No Toilets

There was a bit of a fuss, when this was announced, as I wrote about  in Do Crossrail Trains Need Toilets?.

But given that many Crossrail stations have toilets on the platforms and trains are every ten minutes, no toilets on the train gives advantages.

  • There is no toilet on the train that needs regular cleaning and fails occasionally.
  • Overnight servicing of the train does not need the toilet to be emptied.

I also suspect that the modular nature of the Class 345 train would allow one to be fitted if required.

Class 345 Trains Are Designed For Remote Wake-Up

Remote wake-up is discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?.

So imagine a Class 345 train finishes its last journey of the day in a platform at Shenfield station or a convenient stabling siding.

  • The driver checks the train for sleeping bankers, locks up and goes home.
  • The train reports to Ilford, that a couple of light bulbs have failed.
  • The servicing and cleaning team arrive and get the train pristine for the morning.
  • The train shuts down fully and all power is switched off to the overhead wires, so trespassers won’t be electrocuted.
  • At an appropriate time, the train is signalled to come to life and warms up ready for the day, using battery power.
  • The driver arrives and when signalled joins the main line, raises the pantograph and takes the train on its way.

When I once described this process to a driver from Northern going to pick up a Class 156 train in Halifax, he had a big smile.

In some ways, it’s a bit like parking your car out on the street.

  • Except that for trains, you need a convenient piece of track.
  • As power will be needed to warm the train up in the morning and you don’t want 25 KVAC  live wires about, the only source of power possible is a battery.
  • If the train had a toilet, it would be a more complicated process.

What will the devious Derbians think of next?

Solving GTR’s Depot Problems

In my view there is one big difference between Thameslink and Crossrail.

With Crossrail, which was in part a new railway line, every component was designed so it fitted together like a giant three-dimensional jigsaw.

But Thameslink was designed by different teams over a series of decades.

As we can’t go back to square one on Thameslink we have to make the best of what we’ve been left with.

Bombardier’s remote wake-up concept is a straight steal from some upmarket road vehicles, so why haven’t Siemens stolen it? Especially, as the Derby Telegraph article dates from June 2011. Perhaps, their press cuttings agency doesn’t read that newspaper?

If they had developed the technology, it would certainly help with remote stabling of trains, as you can have a much simpler facility.

The Problem Of Cambridge

I discuss this in Cambridge Depot

The Problem Of North Kent

Chris Gibb suggest creating a new depot at Hoo Junction, which I discuss in Hoo Junction Depot

Thameslink’s Mixed Length Fleet

Thameslink also have a curious mix of eight-car and twelve-car trains, whereas Crossrail have sensibly opted for a common length, which as I said, must be much easier to store.

Intriguingly, both Greater Anglia and South Western Railway have ordered mixed fleets of five and ten-car Aventras. But most six-year-olds can tell you that 5+5=10.

The decision to buy a mixed length fleet of twelve and eight-car trains for Thameslink has caused a lot of these depot and a few other problems.

I wrote more about the problem in Has Thameslink Got The Wrong Length Of Train?.

I think in the end, Thameslink will lengthen the eight-car trains to twelve-cars and then lengthen the short platforms on the Sutton loop Line and a few other places.

This would create sixteen per-cent more capacity through the central tunnel, by making all trains twelve-cars.

But that is an expensive way to solve the problem created by not designing Thameslink as a continuous twelve-car railway.

Conclusion

It’s a bloody-great mess.

If you compare depot philosophies at  Crossrail, Greater Anglia and Thameslink, the first two companies seem to have developed a comprehensive purchase and maintenance solution for all their new trains, whereas Thameslink have worked on the basis that it will be alright in the end.

These factors don’t help Thameslink.

  • The choice of a mix of eight- and twelve-car trains.
  • The inability to join two short trains together to make a long train.
  • The design of a Class 700 train, which appears to be geared more towards a traditional depot.

I will be accused of being patriotic, but having ridden in both Class 700 and Class 345 trains, I’m coming to the conclusion, that Thameslink should have bought Aventras.

I would also have to ask, if Krefeld in Germany is a better place than Derby, for decision makers to visit.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hybrid Trains In The Former East Germany

In my travels from Göttingen, most of the local trains were diesel multiple units as local lines like the South Harz Railway are not electrified. On the other hand, the main lines through Göttingen, are all electrified.

In September 2016, I wrote German Trains With Batteries, which indicated a project in Germany to create hybrid trans, based at technical universities in Chemnitz and Dresden.

As some of the journeys I took in diesel trains, were under electrification, it would certainly appear that the German’s approach is sensible.

There would also appear to be lots of lines without electrification and diesel passenger services all over the area.

If the universities can come up with an economic and practical solution, there are certainly a lot of places to use these hybrid trains.

I think it is interesting to compare the German approach with that of Porterbrook/Northern with their development of the Class 319 Flex train.

  • The Germans are starting with a diesel Desiro Classic, whereas the British are starting with an electric Class 319 train.
  • Batteries are an important part of the German solution, but may not be part of the British one.
  • The German trains are nowhere near as old as the thirty-years-old British ones.

But the objectives of the two projects are to improve passenger services without doing a lot of expensive electrification.

 

 

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment