The Anonymous Widower

Are First Group Moving Towards Zero-Carbon?

My post, which was entitled Suppliers Sought For New Bi-Mode Locomotives For TransPennine Express And Great Western Railway, prompted me to ask the question in the title of this post.

This factsheet for First Bus says that all their buses will be zero-carbon by 2035.

This factsheet for First Rail says this about Decarbonising Rail Travel.

FirstGroup’s ambition is to be the partner of choice for low or zero emission transport. We recently became the first UK rail and bus operator to formally commit to setting an ambitious science-based target for reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

First Rail leads the sector in decarbonisation, including the introduction of bi-mode diesel and electric powered trains which allow us to make best use of electrified networks. We have signed up to the Government’s challenge to take all diesel-only trains out of service by 2040.

GWR has recently taken delivery of the UK’s first tri-mode train which can use overhead wires, third rail or diesel power. Sustainability is at the heart of the NRCs and both SWR and TPE will develop a decarbonisation policy and roadmap towards net zero emissions in accordance with this goal. New all-electric and bi-mode trains will be introduced by Avanti to replace diesel only trains in the current fleet.

Both these factsheets appear to have been written in 2021.

The zero-carbon status of each of First Group’s rail companies is as follows.

Avanti West Coast

The mainstay of Avanti West Coast are fifty-six Class 390 electric trains.

Twenty Class 221 diesel trains are being replaced by ten new Class 807 electric trains and thirteen new Class 805 bi-mode trains.

Great Western Railway

The mainstay of Great Western Railway are a mixture of ninety-three Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode trains.

They also have thirty-three Class 387 electric trains working London commuter routes.

There are a large assortment of ninety-four diesel trains of various classes working rural routes and local services in Bristol, Exeter, Oxford and Plymouth. There are a lot of these trains in the UK and I suspect that a nationwide solution will be developed.

There are thirty-five Class 43 diesel locomotives, that power the shortened InterCity 125 trains in the South-West. I wrote about converting these to hydrogen in Will We See Class 43 Power Cars Converted To Hydrogen?

Four Class 57 diesel locomotives that haul the Night Riviera are covered by the request for suppliers, that prompted me to write this post.

South Western Railway

The mainstay of South Western Railway are a mixture of around  three hundred electric trains.

There are also ten Class 158 diesel trains and thirty Class 159 diesel trains. There are a lot of these trains in the UK and I suspect that a nationwide solution will be developed.

TransPennine Express

The mainstay of TransPennine Express are nineteen Class 802 bi-mode trains and twelve Class 397 electric trains.

There are also fifty-one Class 185 diesel trains.

Fourteen Class 68 diesel locomotives that haul coaches are covered by the request for suppliers, that prompted me to write this post.

Hull Trains

Hull Trains have a fleet of five Class 802 bi-mode trains.

Lumo

Lumo have a fleet of five Class 803 electric trains.

The service is also sold on the basis of its low-carbon footprint.

Conclusion

First Group would appear top have a fair way to go towards full decarbonisation.

  • They have around a hundred-and-thirty Hitachi bi-mode trains. Research is ongoing to replace some diesel engines with batteries.
  • They have a lot of diesel trains and locomotives, that are still in front-line service.
  • They have the tricky problem of the Class 43 locomotives, which I suspect will result in a nationwide solution.

But at least they have started by requesting proposals to replace the other diesel locomotives.

January 23, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Suppliers Sought For New Bi-Mode Locomotives For TransPennine Express And Great Western Railway

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

These three paragraphs give a summary of the proposed fleet of locomotives required by First Group for their two operations.

TransPennine Express is looking for expressions of interest from suppliers for a fleet of at least 15 bi-mode locomotives for use on with its Mk5 carriages.

The provision released by First Group is for up to 30 bi-mode locomotives, with an additional 5 for use on Great Western Railway’s Sleeper Service.

The operators say that the new locomotives must have the capability to be powered by overhead wires as well as being able to operate with an alternate traction mode, IE Diesel or Battery, where routes are not yet electrified or for use as a contingency.

I have also read the detailed proposal, which can be downloaded from this page of the First Group web site.

  • The locomotives must be capable of hauling a train at 100 mph.
  • First Group are putting a high emphasis on environmental impact of the locomotives.
  • The locomotives must be compatible with the latest emission regulations.
  • The locomotives must be low-noise.
  • The locomotives must be capable of hauling seven coaches, including a driving van trailer.

Nothing in the request for proposals would appear to be too challenging.

I have some thoughts.

The Number Of Locomotives For TransPennine Express

Currently, TransPennine Express has a fleet of fourteen Class 68 locomotives and enough coaches and driving van trailers to create thirteen rakes of Mark 5A coaches.

So why do TransPennine Express talk of up to thirty locomotives?

  • Fifteen locomotives would handle the current services, so thirty could cover new services or more services on the current locomotive-hauled routes.
  • Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes and Manchester Piccadilly and Hull are run by Class 185 diesel  trains, which will need replacing at some future time.
  • First Group probably know the costs of running Class 802 trains and locomotives with rakes of coaches better than anyone , so are they thinking about swapping some Class 802 trains for locomotives with rakes of coaches?

The last point would be one for the accountants.

But I am led to the conclusion, that TransPennine Express could be expanding and also decarbonising the long routes still operated by Class 185 trains.

The Number Of Locomotives For Great Western Railway

Currently, Great Western Railway has a fleet of four Class 57 locomotives to haul the Night Riviera.

Five replacement locomotives would probably be enough.

Could A Battery-Electric Locomotive Handle The TransPennine Express Requirement?

Currently, there are gaps in the electrification of the TransPennine network.

  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 7.7 miles – Electrification in progress
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrification in progress
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.1 miles
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 – Electrification in progress
  • Northallerton and Redcar – 28.8 miles
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge – 7.5 miles
  • Leeds and Hull – 51.8 miles
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 72.1 miles
  • Scarborough and York – 42 miles
  • Doncaster and Sheffield – 18.7 miles
  • Sheffield and Stockport – 36.8 miles – Rumoured to be electrified

Note.

  1. Many gaps are quite small.
  2. The longest gaps are on easy routes.
  3. Sheffield will be electrified for the Midland Main Line.
  4. A length of electrification at Scunthorpe could ease Doncaster and Cleethorpes.

I feel that a battery-electric locomotive with a range of a hundred miles hauling seven coaches, would be able to handle all the TransPennine routes.

If the train could run the routes with an electricity consumption of 4 kWh per vehicle-mile, seven coaches would need 4 * 8 * 100 = 3.2 MWh of battery storage.

Note.

  1. A 3.2 MWh battery would weigh around 3.2 tonnes, which would be less than the diesel engine in a Class 68 locomotive.
  2. Regenerative braking to batteries could be used to improve range.
  3. In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?, I calculated that an InterCity 125 needs 1.81 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 100 mph.

I am fairly certain, that a well-designed efficient battery-electric locomotive would be able to handle all of the routes for TransPennine Express.

Could A Battery-Electric Locomotive Handle The Night Riviera?

I have just looked up the Southbound Night Riviera on Real Time Trains.

  • It leaves Paddington at 23:50.
  • It is typically eight coaches and a Class 57 locomotive.
  • The train is planned to run at 75 mph.
  • The first 53 miles between Paddington and Newbury are electrified.
  • There is a stop of one hour and 39 minutes at Exeter.
  • Newbury and Exeter is 120.4 miles
  • Exeter and Penzance is 130.8 miles

The Northbound Night Riviera only has a five minute stop at Exeter and two minutes stops at Totnes, Newton Abbott and Taunton.

A battery-electric locomotive would need a range of 140 miles hauling eight coaches.

  • Some stops like Plymouth may need to be lengthened by a few minutes to charge the batteries.
  • Extra stops of perhaps five minutes could be added to top-up the batteries.
  • The train would be limited to 75 mph, which would improve efficiency.
  • It might even be prudent to electrify the uphill track of some of the steeper parts of the route.

But think of the marketing advantages of a zero-carbon sleeper train!

 

Conclusion

When I saw First Group’s proposals, I thought that they were over ambitious.

But after doing a few simple calculations, I think they can decarbonise TransPennine Express services and the Night Riviera.

 

 

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Proposed Mid-Cornwall Metro

In the January 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is this description of the Mid-Cornwall Metro.

This would see an hourly service shuttling between the north and south coasts of the county and linking the main population centres at Newquay, St Austell, Truro and Falmouth. This would become the main service on the Newquay branch, and it would take over one of the twice-hourly services on the Falmouth branch, with the other service being a Truro to Falmouth shuttle as now.

Facilitating the Metro idea will be the latest phase of the modernisation of signalling in Cornwall, which will see the upgrade of a level crossing near Truro. Other infrastructure work required is a new passing loop on the Newquay branch at Tregoss Moor and restoration of a second platform face at the terminus at Newquay.

A business case was due to be submitted to the Department for Transport before Christmas 2021.

These are a few thoughts.

The Current Timings

If you look at the distances and timings of the various sections they are as follows.

  • Newquay and Par – Five stops – 20.8 miles – 49-52 minutes
  • Par and Truro – One stop – 19 miles – 22 minutes
  • Truro and Falmouth Docks – Four stops – 11.8 miles – 24 minutes

Note.

  1. It appears that the Newquay to Par service is three minutes quicker than the other way.
  2. There will be a reverse at Par, which could take three minutes.
  3. The Par and Truro times were either GWR Castles or Class 802 trains.

The total time is 98-101 minutes and the total distance is 51.6 miles

Possible Timing

Consider.

  • For the ease of timetabling and operation, it is probably best that a round trip between the two Newquay and Falmouth Docks takes an exact number of hours.
  • The operating speed between Par and Truro is 75 mph and it is only 50 mph elsewhere.
  • Turnround time at Newquay is five minutes.
  • Turnround time at Falmouth Docks is 4-6 minutes

For these reasons, I doubt that much improvement could be made on the fastest time of 98 minutes. Certainly, a round trip of three hours would appear impossible.

But a round trip time of four hours would be very sensible.

However, there would be a turnround time of between 19-22 minutes at each end of the route.

This time might seem overly long, but it would be ideal for charging a battery-electric train.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

As the round trip will be four hours and an hourly service is needed, there will be a need for four trains to run the service, with the addition of probably two extra trains to allow for one in maintenance and one covering for any breakdowns.

Could The Mid-Cornwall Metro Use Battery-Electric Trains?

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

Note

  1. The range of ninety kilometres is fifty-six miles and a longer distance than Newquay and Falmouth Docks.
  2. The operating speed of 90-100 mph is ideal.
  3. The time needed for a full charge at either end is within the timetable, I calculated earlier.

Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be ideal for working the Mid-Cornwall Metro with a full charge at both ends of the route.

I have used my virtual helicopter to explore the Cornish Main Line between Par and Truro.

If it was decided to electrify the Cornish Main Line between Truro and Par, this could be an alternative way to charge the trains.

  • The Mid-Cornish Metro trains should be able to do a return trip to Newquay and Falmouth Docks from the main line without charging at the two terminal stations.
  • The electrification would be able to charge battery-electric Class 802 trains between Plymouth and Penzance.

But the extra infrastructure works to raise nine road bridges and several footbridges might blow the budget.

Where Would The Trains Be Serviced?

Great Western Railway has depots at both Penzance and Plymouth and with perhaps a charger at Truro and/or Par stations, the trains should be able to get to either depot at the end of the day.

Trains To Newquay

Wikipedia says this about the services to Newquay station.

The service is irregular with typically one train around every two hours.

As well as the local service, the station handles a number of long-distance trains in the summer. These services include Great Western Railway trains from London Paddington and CrossCountry trains from the North of England and the Scottish Lowlands, which do not stop at intermediate stations between Par and Newquay. On Sundays, there are some local trains and a small number of intercity services. As well as the weekend through trains, in peak summer months there is also a Monday-Friday through Great Western Railway intercity service to and from London, but local trains continue on these days too. Traditionally, there was no Sunday service in the winter, even in the ‘golden age’ between both of the 20th century’s world wars, but the line has a service of three trains each way on Sundays from 11 December 2011.

The Mid-Cornwall Metro will at least come with an hourly service.

But this will mean, that to run other services to the station with the hourly Metro will mean that a second platform will be needed.

I discuss the improvements needed in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

This is a quirky video, which describes an architect’s plans for the station.

It is the sort of simple solution, that I like.

Conclusion

I believe that a small fleet of Hitachi Regional Battery Trains could create an iconic Metro for Cornwall, that would appeal to both visitors and tourists alike.

 

January 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

More Train Companies Are Advertising Now

At the end of October, I posted Hull Trains Are Mounting A Big Advertising Campaign.

Today LNER are also advertising in The Times and these follow other companies like Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Grand Central and Great Western Railway.

It looks like the Hull Trains campaign must have been successful.

January 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over 10,000 People Use Reopened Dartmoor Line In First Two Weeks

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

These are the first three paragraphs of the press release.

More than 10,000 people have travelled on the Dartmoor Line in the first two weeks since its reopening.

The line reopened for regular year-round, all-week passenger services on Saturday 20 November and demand for the trains linking Okehampton and Exeter has continued to remain high.

The reopening of the Dartmoor Line is the first of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway schemes, made possible thanks to over £40 million Government investment.

All concerned must be very pleased, especially as it was delivered £10 million under budget and within nine months, ahead of time.

I described my first use of the new route to Okehampton in A Few Hours In Okehampton, where I came to this conclusion.

Exeter and Okehampton is a well-thought out reopening, that will be welcomed in the South West of England.

It would appear the passenger numbers confirm my conclusion.

Since my visit to Okehampton, I have wondered, whether the apparent success of the Okehampton reopening, would have any other effects.

In the December 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled South West Seeks More Reopenings, with a sub-title of Okehampton Service Could Be A Precursor.

The article details a number of projects.

Marsh Barton Station

A new Marsh Barton station is under construction and has a December 2022 opening date.

Edginswell Station

A new Edginswell station is being planned to serve Torbay Hospital on the Riviera Line, with a possible opening of 2025.

Collumpton And Wellington Stations

The last budget chipped in five million, so that preferred options and a full business case can be developed for these two new stations.

  • Collumpton station will probably be developed at the site of the old station, which is close to Collumpton Services on the M5.
  • Wellington station will probably be on a new site at Longworth Farm, where five hundred houses are being developed.

The Modern Railways article also says this about housing.

Thousands of houses are expected to be built in both towns in the next decade, making provision of railway stations highly desirable to avoid soaring road congestion.

Network Rail and Great Western Railway also seem to be experimenting with different service patterns through the two stations.

  • Both hourly and two-hourly services have been tested.
  • In the December 2021 timetable there is now a two-hourly GWR Castle service over the Taunton and Exeter stretch, that will call at the two new stations, when they open.
  • To have an hourly service there will also be a Taunton and Exeter shuttle.

This service would provide access to education and employment in Exeter, Taunton and Bristol.

The cost benefit ratio is above the Government’s limit for backing of two.

Opening of the two new stations is pencilled in for 2025.

Barnstaple And Axminster

The Modern Railways article also says this.

As part of the Devon Metro concept, Devon County Council aspires to extend further eastwards the hourly Barnstaple services that currently terminate at Exeter Central, perhaps as far as Axminster.

This would need track improvements East of Pinhoe station.

The current timings of the two sections are as follows.

  • Exeter Central and Axminster – 37 minutes
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – 74 minutes

These timings probably mean that a round trip between Axminster and Barnstaple can be done in a convenient four hours, so an hourly service would need four trains.

From sometime next year, when the frequency of the Exeter Central and Okehampton service becomes hourly, the services along the route will be as follows.

  • Exeter St. Davids and Axminster – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Okehampton – Hourly

There is also a service, that runs every thirty minutes between Exmouth and Paignton via Exeter Central and Exeter St. Davids, Newton Abbot and Torquay.

The frequencies on the various sections would be as follows.

  • Barnstaple and Crediton – One tph
  • Okehampton and Crediton – One tph
  • Crediton and Exeter St. Davids – Two tph
  • Paignton and Exeter St. Davids – At least two tph
  • Exeter St. Davids and Exeter Central – Five tph
  • Exeter Central and Axminster – One tph
  • Exeter Central and Exmouth – Two tph

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. Other services run between Exeter St. Davids and Paignton stations.
  3. In recent years a new station at Cranbrook has opened between Exeter Central and Axminster.

Extending the Barnstaple and Exeter Central service to Axminster would double the frequency on the Exeter Central and Axminster section.

Axminster station is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. The station appears to have a bridge with lifts.
  3. The station has a good road connection and the parking could probably be extended.

Axminster station could certainly handle a fast train between London and Exeter, a stopping train to Barnstaple and all the passengers.

Devon Metro

It does appear that the services of the Devon Metro are coming together.

  • Paignton and Exmouth is already running.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central is already running.
  • Okehampton and Exeter Central has just started.
  • Exeter St. Davids and Taunton via new stations at Collumpton and Wellington is being planned.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central needs to be extended to Axminster.

How many other cities in the UK could benefit from a metro of this quality?

Bere Alston And Tavistock

The Modern Railways article also says this.

Meanwhile, further west on the former Southern network, restoration of services from Bere Alston to Tavistock has long been proposed, giving Tavistock a rail link to Plymouth. Christian Irwin, Network Rail’s Industry Programme Manager (South West), who oversaw the Okehampton reopening that came in early and underbudget, says he is keen to repeat the trick on the Tavistock route.

It is probably more difficult than at Okehampton.

  • The trackbed is mainly intact, but the track has been lifted.
  • The track to be laid is shorter than at Okehampton.
  • Two structures at the Southern end need to be replaced.
  • A new station needs to be built at Tavistock.

Devon County Council seems to be in control of the land needed.

Proposed services seem to be as follows.

  • Plymouth and Gunnislake via Bere Alston – One train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Plymouth and Tavistock via Bere Alston – One tph

Overall it looks like the Tavistock project will be more expensive than that at Okehampton, but there would appear to be more contributions from developers.

Devon County Council are hoping that the Tavistock link could be build in the next decade.

Tavistock And Okehampton

After the reconnection of Tavistock to the National Rail network, the council would hope to complete the link between Tavistock and Okehampton.

This would give the following benefits.

  • Improved public transport connectivity in West Devon and North Cornwall.
  • Improve revenue potential at Okehampton and Tavistock stations.
  • Create an easier freight route.
  • Create an alternative route, if the coastal route is closed.

It is a challenging project, but I feel it will be possible by perhaps 2035.

 

December 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

More On Batteries On Class 802 Trains

In the December 2021 Edition there’s an article called Battery Trial For TPE ‘802’.

Class 802 trains are now involved in two battery trials.

This article puts some flesh of the bones of the two trials.

It is hoped that replacing one diesel engine (generator unit) with a battery pack will enable the following.

  • Reduction of carbon emissions by at least 20 %.
  • Reduction of fuel consumption.
  • The ability to rely on battery power when entering and leaving stations to reduce noise pollution and emissions.

This paragraph explains a possible way the trains will be operated.

Another option is to use the battery to provide ‘classic’ hybridisation efficiency, allowing most diesel running to be done fuel-efficiently under two engines rather than three. In this case, the battery module would provide top-up power for peak demand and give regenerative braking capability when operating in diesel mode, which the trains currently do not have.

This is one of the aims of the GWR trial and I suspect anybody, who has owned and/or driven a hybrid car will understand Hitachi’s thinking.

The next paragraph is very revealing.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

It looks to me that Hyperdrive Innovation will earn their fees for the battery design and manufacture.

This picture shows the underneath of a Class 802 train.

Note.

  • The car is 26 metres long
  • The car is 2.75 metres wide.
  • The MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 802 train, each weigh around two tonnes.
  • The engines have a power output of 700 kW

I would think that the 6 x 2.2 m battery would fit under the car easily.

As an engineer, who has evaluated all sorts of weight and balance problems, I would make the battery similar in weight to the diesel engine. This would mean that the existing mountings for the diesel engine  should be able to support the battery pack. It would also probably mean that the handling of a car with a diesel engine and one with a battery pack should be nearer to being identical.

Tesla claim an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg for their batteries, which would mean a battery with the weight of one of the diesel engines could have a capacity of around 500 kWh.

As a Control Engineer, I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation have a tricky problem to get the algorithm right, so that the trains perform equally well under all conditions. But with a good simulation and lots of physical testing, getting the algorithm right is very much a solvable problem.

The article says this about the reliability of the diesel engines or generator units (GU) as Hitachi call them.

Whilst reliability of the generator units (GU) has improved, operators of the bi-mode sets still report frequent issues  which see sets ending their daily diagram with one out of use.

I wonder, if battery packs will improve reliability.

From statements in the article, it looks like Hitachi, MTU and the train operating companies are being cautious.

The article also says this about the design of the battery packs.

The battery pack has been designed so it is a like-for-like replacement for a GU, which can maintain or improve performance, without compromising on seats or capacity.

I have always said it would be plug-and-play and this would appear to confirm it.

How Will The Batteries Be Charged?

I showed this paragraph earlier.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

GWR and TPE run their Class 802 trains to several stations without electrification. and they will probably need some method of charging the battery before leaving the station.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Note.

  1. This infographic was published with the Hitachi press release announcing the development of the tri-mode train for GWR.
  2. One diesel engine has been replaced by a battery pack.
  3. Charging the battery can be under wires or 10-15 minutes whilst static.
  4. At some stations like Exeter St. Davids, Penzance, Plymouth or Swansea, heavily-laden services might need the assistance of batteries to get up to operating speed.

The infographic released with the Hitachi press release announcing the trials for TPE.

It is similar, but it says nothing about charging.

So how will these trains be charged in stations like Hull, Middlesbrough. Penzance, Scarborough and Swansea, so they leave on their return journey with a full battery?

Consider.

  • The formation of a five-car Class 802 train is DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF.
  • Pantographs appear to be on both driver cars.
  • The middle three cars have diesel engines.
  • Only the middle three cars have traction motors.
  • There is probably a high-capacity electrical bus running the length of the train, to enable electricity to power all the cars from either or both paragraphs, when running on an electrified line.

The simplest way to charge the batteries would probably be to install a short lengthy of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the station and then to charge the batteries the driver would just raise the pantograph and energise the electrical bus, which would then feed electricity to the batteries.

I wrote about Furrer + Frey’s Voltap charging system in Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested. This charging system would surely work with Hitachi’s designs as batteries can be charged from overhead electrification.

Conclusion

I suspect that Hitachi will achieve their objectives of saving fuel and cutting emissions.

But there is more than this project to just replacing one diesel engine with a battery pack  and seeing what the savings are.

It appears that the battery packs could have an effect on train reliability.

If the battery packs are truly like-for-like with the diesel engines, then what will be effect of replacing two and three diesel engines in a five-car Class 802 train with battery packs.

Will it be possible to develop an ability to setup the train according to the route? It’s only similar to the way Mercedes probably set up Lewis Hamilton’s car for each circuit.

But then the speed Formula One cars lap Silverstone is not that different to the maximum speed of a Hitachi Class 802 train.

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%

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

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • Batteries replacing an engine to cut fuel usage and reduce carbon emissions
  • First time a modern UK intercity train, in passenger service, will use alternative fuel
  • Tri-mode train can improve air quality and reduce noise across South West route’s non-electrified stations

They follow these with this introductory paragraph.

In a UK-first, Hitachi Rail and Eversholt Rail have signed an exclusive agreement aimed at bringing battery power – and fuel savings of more than 20% – to the modern Great Western Railway Intercity Express Trains that carry passengers between Penzance and London.

After a couple more paragraphs, the press return returns to the Penzance theme.

GWR’s Intercity Express Train fleet currently calls at 15 non-electrified stations on its journey between Penzance and London, all of which could benefit from trains running on battery-only power.

The press release then sets out their aims.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Penzance gets another mention, but the late 2040s for a fully electric-battery intercity train between Penzance and London, is not an ambitious target.

Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Hitachi have called the train the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train and the specification is shown in this infographic.

Note that fuel & carbon savings of at least 20 % are claimed.

Penzance To London In A Class 802 Train

It would appear that Penzance and London has been chosen as the trial route.

These figures were obtained from Real Time Trains figures for the 1015 from Penzance on the 14th December 2020.

  • Penzance to St. Erth – 5.65 miles – 8 mins – 42.4 mph – 1 mins stop
  • St. Erth to Camborne – 7.2 miles – 10 mins – 43.2 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Camborne to Redruth – 3.65 miles – 5 mins – 43.8 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Redruth to Truro – 9 miles – 10 mins – 54 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Truro to St. Austell  – 14.7 miles – 15 mins – 58.8 mph – 1 mins stop
  • St. Austell to Par – 4.5 miles – 6 mins – 45 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Par to Bodmin Parkway – 8 miles – 11 mins – 43.6 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Bodmin Parkway to Liskeard – 9.2 miles – 12 mins – 46 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Liskeard to Plymouth – 17.8 miles – 25 mins – 42.7 mph – 9 mins stop
  • Plymouth to Totnes – 23.1 miles – 25 mins – 55.4 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Totnes to Newton Abbot – 8.8 miles – 9 mins – 59.3 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Newton Abbot to Exeter St. Davids – 20.2 miles – 18 mins – 71.3 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Exeter St. Davids to Tiverton Parkway – 16.5 miles – 14 mins – 70.7 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Tiverton Parkway to Taunton – 14.2 miles – 11 mins – 77.4 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Taunton to Reading – 106.7 miles – 76 mins – 84.2 mph – 5 mins stop
  • Reading to Paddington – 36 miles – 25 mins – 86.4 mph

The route can be broken neatly into four very different sections.

  • Penzance and Plymouth – 79.5 miles – 112 mins – 42.5 mph – 75 mph operating speed
  • Plymouth and Exeter St. Davids – 52 miles – 57 mins – 54.7 mph – 100 mph operating speed
  • Exeter St. Davids and Newbury – 120.4 miles – 95 mins – 76 mph – 100 mph operating speed
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles – 36 mins – 88.3 mph – 100-125 mph operating speed

Note.

  1. The speed builds up gradually as the journey progresses.
  2. Only between Newbury and Paddington is electrified.

How does Penzance and Paddington stand up as a trial route?

  • Penzance and Plymouth has eight intermediate stops about every nine-ten miles.
  • The nine minute stop at Plymouth, is long enough to charge the batteries, should that be incorporated in the trial.
  • The Cornish Main Line is generally double track, with an operating speed of 75 mph.
  • Plymouth and Exeter includes the running by the sea, through Dawlish.
  • Exeter could be given an extended stop to charge the batteries.
  • Exeter and Newbury is a faster run and the batteries may help with performance.
  • The Reading and Taunton Line has an operating speed of 110 mph.
  • Remember the trains are designed for 140 mph and they achieve nothing like that on diesel.
  • At each of the fifteen stops, the performance, noise and customer reaction can be evaluated. Strange, but my experience of battery trains, says that they are very much quieter than similar electric trains.

The route has a good selection of the types of routes, that Great Western Railway has in its network.

It would appear to be a good route to sort out the good and bad points of the train.

I have a few thoughts.

Possible Destinations For A Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Currently, the following routes are run or are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802, 805 and 810 trains, where most of the route is electrified and sections do not have any electrification.

  • GWR – Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads- 24.5 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Cheltenham – 43.3 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Great Malvern – 76 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Oxford – 10.4 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Penzance – 252 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Swansea – 45.7 miles
  • Hull Trains – Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Harrogate – 18.5 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 21 miles

Note.

  1. The distance is the length of line on the route without electrification.
  2. Five of these routes are under twenty miles
  3. Many of these routes have very few stops on the section without electrification.

I suspect that GWR and LNER have plans for other destinations.

What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 802 Train At Various Speeds?

I will do my standard calculation.

  • Empty train weight – 243 tonnes (Wikipedia for Class 800 train!)
  • Passenger weight – 302 x 90 Kg (Includes baggage, bikes and buggies!)
  • Train weight – 270.18 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the kinetic energy at various speeds are.

  • 60 mph – 27 kWh
  • 75 mph – 42 kWh
  • 80 mph – 48 kWh
  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh
  • 110 mph – 91 kWh
  • 125 mph – 117 kWh – Normal cruise on electrified lines.
  • 140 mph – 147 kWh – Maximum cruise on electrified lines.

A battery must be large enough to capture this kinetic energy, which will be generated, when the train stops.

Acceleration And Deceleration Of A Five-Car Class 802 Train

The first Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains will be conversions of Class 802 trains.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train.

The data sheet shows the following for a five-car Class 802 train.

  • It can accelerate to 120 kph/75 mph in 100 seconds in electric mode.
  • It can accelerate to 160 kph/100 mph in 160 seconds in electric mode.
  • It can accelerate to 120 kph/75 mph in 140 seconds in diesel mode.
  • It can decelerate from 120 kph/75 mph in 50 seconds in electric mode.
  • It can decelerate from 160 kph/100 mph in 90 seconds in electric mode.

Note.

  1. 75 mph is the operating speed of the Cornish Main Line and possibly the Highland Main Line.
  2. 100 mph is the operating speed for a lot of routes in the UK.
  3. It would appear that trains accelerate to 75 mph forty second faster in electric mode, compared to diesel mode.
  4. In diesel mode acceleration slows markedly once 100 kph is attained.

Can we assume that performance in battery mode, will be the same as in electric mode? I will assume that this is valid.

Battery Use In A Station Stop

Suppose the train is travelling at 75 mph with a full load of passengers and makes a station stop, without the use of the diesel engines.

  • If the train is decelerating from 75 mph, there must be space for 42 kWh in the battery.
  • Because regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient, only perhaps 80 % would be stored in the battery. This is 33.6 kWh.
  • To accelerate the train to 75 mph, the battery must supply 42 kWh, as diesel power will not be used for this purpose.
  • The train will take 50 seconds to decelerate, 100 seconds to accelerate and perhaps 60 seconds in the station or 210 seconds in total.
  • Let’s say the battery will need to supply 2 kWh per minute per car for hotel power, that will be 35 kWh for the 210 seconds.

Adding and subtracting inputs and outputs to the battery gives this equation 33.6 – 35 – 42 = -43.4 kWh

The energy in the battery has been reduced by 43.4 kWh, at each 75 mph stop.

Repeating the calculation for a 100 mph stop, which takes 310 seconds, gives an equation of 60 -51.7 – 75 = -66.7 kWh.

Note that in this calculation, I have assumed that the efficiency of regenerative braking is 80 %. These are a selection of figures.

  • For 60 % efficiency, the stops would cost 51.8 kWh from 75 mph and 81.7 kWh from 100 mph.
  • For 80 % efficiency, the stops would cost 43.4 kWh from 75 mph and 66.7 kWh from 100 mph.
  • For 90 % efficiency, the stops would cost 39.2 kWh from 75 mph and 59.2 kWh from 100 mph.

So it is important to raise the efficiency of regenerative braking to as near to 100 % as possible.

It should also be noted that with an 80 % efficiency of regenerative braking, hotel power has an effect.

  • With 1 kWh per minute per car, the stops would cost 25.9 kWh from 75 mph and 40.8 kWh from 100 mph.
  • With 2 kWh per minute per car, the stops would cost 43.4 kWh from 75 mph and 66.7 kWh from 100 mph.
  • With 3 kWh per minute per car, the stops would cost 60.9 kWh from 75 mph and 92.6 kWh from 100 mph.

It is important to reduce the hotel power of the train, as low as possible.

With a 90 % regeneration efficiency and hotel power of 1 kWh per car per minute, the figures are 21.7 kWh from 75 mph and 33.3 kWh from 100 mph.

London Paddington And Penzance By Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Listing the stops between London Paddington and Penzance and their speeds gives the following.

  • St. Erth – 75 mph
  • Camborne – 75 mph
  • Redruth – 75 mph
  • Truro – 75 mph
  • St. Austell – 75 mph
  • Par – 75 mph
  • Bodmin Parkway – 75 mph
  • Liskeard – 75 mph
  • Plymouth – 75 mph
  • Totnes – 100 mph
  • Newton Abbot – 100 mph
  • Exeter St. Davids – 100 mph
  • Tiverton Parkway – 100 mph
  • Taunton – 100 mph
  • Reading – Electrified

This is nine stops from 75 mph, five from 100 mph and one where the electrification is used.

  • Each 75 mph stop needs 43.4 kWh from the battery.
  • Each 100 mph stop needs 66.7 kWh from the battery.

To achieve Hitachi’s aim of low noise and pollution-free station stops between London Paddington and Penzance will need 724.1 kWh of power from the battery.

With 80 % regeneration efficiency and hotel power of 2 kWh per minute per car gives a figure of 724.1 kWh.

With 90 % regeneration efficiency and hotel power of 1 kWh per minute per car gives a figure of 361.8 kWh.

The battery must also have sufficient capacity to handle the regenerative braking. I would suspect that provision will be made for a stop from 125 mph, which is 117 kWh.

So will the battery for the route be somewhere between 500 and 1000 kWh?

Note that each of the three MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 800 train, weigh around two tonnes and Tesla claim an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg for their batteries.

This would mean a battery the weight of one of the diesel engines would have a capacity of 500 kWh.

A train with a full 500 kWh battery at Newbury could arrive in Penzance with some juice in the battery, if regenerative braking could be efficient and the demands of the train to run internal systems were at a low level.

Hitachi’s Increasing Efficiency Of Class 80x Trains

The next variant of the Class 80x trains to come into service, should be the Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains.

  • These trains will be all-electric like LNER’s Class 801 trains.
  • They are designed for a four-hour limited-stop service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • They will be one-class and average single fares will be £25,

This sentence from Wikipedia, describes a big difference between Class 803 and Class 801 trains.

Unlike the Class 801, another non-bi-mode AT300 variant which despite being designed only for electrified routes carries a diesel engine per unit for emergency use, the new units will not be fitted with any, and so would not be able to propel themselves in the event of a power failure. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies would face a failure.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the Class 803 trains have been put on a diet to increase their acceleration to meet the demanding schedule, which has been promised by East Coast Trains.

Hitachi has also given out clues to other efficiency improvements.

  • Class 807 trains for Avanti West Coast, will have no diesel engines or batteries.
  • Class 810 trains for East Midlands Railway will have a revised nose and different headlights. Is this for better aerodynamics?
  • Class 810 trains, also have slots for four diesel engines. I can’t see why they would need all this power on the relatively-flat Midland Main Line. Will two of the slots be used by batteries to reduce fuel consumption and/or increase efficiency?

Hitachi are only doing, what all good engineers would do.

Low-Carbon Between Plymouth and Penzance

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimated that an all-electric Class 801 train needs around 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.

It will need less power to maintain the 75 mph of the Cornish Main Line. I would suspect that as air resistance is based on the square of the speed, that the energy consumption of the Class 802 train could be something under 2 kWh per vehicle. Or even less!

The Cornish Main Line is 79.5 miles between Plymouth and Penzance, but the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, will not be on diesel all the way.

  • At each station stop deceleration and acceleration, the train will not be using diesel. This could take a mile away for each station.
  • All braking will be regenerative to the battery.

I suspect that by using the gradients on the route to advantage and by using diesel in selected areas, that a good driver or a well-written driver assistance system giving advice could safely navigate an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train all the way to Penzance on a minimum amount of diesel.

It’s not as if the train will be stranded, as they would have two onboard diesel engines.

I have a suspicion, that with a top-up at Plymouth, if Hitachi can raise efficiencies to a maximum and power consumption to a minimum, that on one battery, the train might be able to run between Plymouth and Penzance for much of the way, without using diesel.

The question also has to be asked, as to what would be the performance of the train with two diesel engines replaced by batteries?

I suspect this is something else to be determined in the trial.

Will Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train And Regional Battery Train Have The Same Battery Packs?

The specification of Hitachi’s closely-related Regional Battery Train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

The Regional Battery Train is stated to have a battery range of 90 km/56 miles at 162 kph/100 mph.

Operating speed and battery range have not been disclosed yet for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train. I await them with great interest.

I would expect that it is likely, that Hitachi’s two battery trains and others that follow, will use identical battery packs for ease of manufacture, services and operation.

In their press release, which announced the Battery Regional Train, Hitachi said this.

Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients of the batteries for use in the UK, as well as installing them on new metro and intercity trains that will be needed in the coming years to replace ageing diesel fleets.

Battery trains produce no greenhouse gases, air pollution and are a far quieter, offering passengers cleaner air in stations, less noise disruption and a carbon-free way to travel. Installing batteries on to existing fleets can also extend their range and allow passengers to reach stations on non-electrified branch lines without having to change train.

They didn’t exactly say all battery packs will be the same, but they were close to it, by saying that they can already be fitted to 275 trains. I would read those paragraphs to say, that a series of trains would use the same technology for different purposes.

What Will Be The Battery Range Of A Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train?

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which says that a five-car Class 802 train has  an operating speed of 110 mph on diesel power.

According to Wikipedia and other sources, a Class 802 train has three diesel engines.

If the Regional Battery Train has replaced three diesel engines with battery packs in a five-car train like a Class 802 train to get the 90 km/56 mile range, would this mean?

  • Replacing one diesel engine with a battery pack, give a range of thirty kilometres or about nineteen miles.
  • Replacing two diesel engines with battery packs double the range to sixty kilometres or thirty-eight miles.

It looks like a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train with one of the same battery-packs should easily reach several of the destinations in my list.

But they would need charging before return or some assistance from the two remaining diesel engines.

I talk about charging the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train in Charging The Batteries On An Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Conclusion

It sounds like a worthwhile train to me and I await the results of the trial with interest.

 

 

 

 

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Few Hours In Okehampton

Today, I took a trip by train to Okehampton and spent a couple of hours in the town.

I took the 10:04 from Paddington and after changing at Exeter St. Davids, I arrived in Okehampton at 13:11

Coming back, I took the 15:24 from Okehampton and arrived in Paddington at 18:24.

So the journeys took about three hours.

These pictures show Okehampton station.

Note.

  1. The train was two Class 150 trains coupled together.
  2. I suspect the platform is long enough to take a GWR Castle train
  3. The bus in the pictures is the 118, of which more later.
  4. It looked like a buffet was under construction.
  5. The new train information displays.

I took the bus down to Okehampton, where I took these pictures, as I walked around.

Note, that the first three pictures show the museum and the cycle works cafe, where I had a coffee and a delicious gluten-free flapjack.

I have a few thoughts on my journey, both now and in the future.

The 118 Bus

The 118 bus runs between Tavistock and Okehampton station.

  • It serves the villages in between.
  • It meets the trains from Exeter and takes them to Okehampton Town Centre.
  • It picks people up from Okehampton Town Centre and takes them to the station just before the trains leave for Exeter.
  • It accepts contactless payment.

It is a well-designed bus route that links passengers with the trains to and from Exeter.

Many other towns could follow Okehampton’s lead.

Walking Between Station And The Town Centre

I could certainly walk down the hill, but one of the locals said that it rather a stiff walk up the hill that takes about fifteen minutes, if you’re up to it. He also felt a taxi would be about a fiver.

Could A Battery Train Work The Service between Exeter And Okehampton Station?

Consider.

  • It is 24.8 miles between Exeter St. David and Okehampton stations.
  • It is a rise of under 200 metres.
  • The Class 150 trains climbed the hill at around 30 mph, but in places it was lower.
  • Hitachi, Stadler and Vivarail are talking about battery-electric trains with a range of fifty miles.
  • I was talking to one of the Great Western Railway staff and he said in the days of steam, the trains used to roll down the hill into Exeter.
  • There is the 18 MW Den Brook Wind Farm close to Okehampton.
  • With regenerative braking rolling down would recharge the batteries.

I suspect, that designing a battery-electric train to climb the hill is possible.

My rough estimate says that a battery of around 500 KWh could be enough.

Are The People Of Devon Going To Use The Train?

I took these pictures as I joined the train back to Exeter.

The people were a mixture of those arriving from Exeter and those returning to Exeter, but most seats were taken on the way back.

I can see Great Western Railway running Castles, like the one in the picture, for services on this route in the Summer, both to attract passengers and to cope with their numbers.

Local Reaction

I talked to several local people and they were all pleased that the service has been reinstated.

The only complaint was that it should have happened sooner.

Is A Day Trip Possible?

Suppose you live in London and your mother or other close relative lives in Okehampton.

Would it be possible to be able to visit them on their birthday for a good lunch?

Consider.

  • At the present time, trains from London, connect to the Okehampton service about every two hours.
  • The first connecting service leaves Paddington at 08:04.
  • Trains take around three hours between Paddington and Okehampton.
  • From probably May 2022, there will be hourly connections to Okehampton.
  • The last London train leaves Exeter at 20:46.

If you wanted to be a real hero, you could always take the Night Riviera back to London, which leaves Exeter at 0100.

I would say that if they planned it properly, a day trip from London to Okehampton by train, is feasible for a special occasion.

Will Great Western Railway Ever Run Direct Trains Between London Paddington And Okehampton?

I doubt this would be a regular service but I do believe that it is technically feasible.

  • Trains would need to reverse at Exeter St. Davids.
  • Trains would probably be limited to five car Class 802 trains.
  • Okehampton station could probably accommodate a five-car Class 802 train.
  • I estimate that the journey time would be a few minutes under three hours.

It should be noted that Paignton gets around three trains per day (tpd) from Paddington.

It might be that if the demand was there, a few trains per day could be run to and from London, by splitting and joining with the Paignton service at Exeter St. Davids.

  • If both services were run by five-car trains, there would be a ten-car service to and from London.
  • It certainly looks that GWR wouldn’t have to spend a great deal to implement the service.
  • The extra capacity of the five-car train might help commuters into Exeter.

It  is likely that this service wouldn’t run until Okehampton Parkway station is opened, which would attract travellers from the West, who would arrive at the station along the A 30 dual-carriageway

I can certainly see a service leaving Okehampton at around seven in the morning and getting into London about ten, paired with a late afternoon/evening train home.

It should be noted, that First Group with their Lumo service between London and Edinburgh, seem to negotiate for paths that create revenue.

But I do wonder, if one of the reasons , that Great Western Railway, Network Rail, Devon County Council, the Department of Transport and the Government were all very much in favour of reopening this route, is that it creates a valid alternative route between London and Plymouth and all places to the West, should the main route via Dawlish be breached again by the sea.

Okehampton station and the future Okehampton Parkway station are both close to the A30 which would allow express coaches to Plymouth and all over West Devon and Cornwall to bypass the trouble.

Hopefully, because the alterative route has been enabled the worst won’t happen.

Conclusion

Exeter and Okehampton is a well-thought out reopening, that will be welcomed in the South West of England.

 

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Dartmoor Line Is Back: ‘I Can’t Imagine Why Anyone Would Want To Arrive On The Moor Any Other Way’

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

The article is in the travel section and describes what you might do if you took a train to Okehampton.

I wondered how many of the other Saturday papers and web sites have got articles about Okehampton and the railway.

So I searched and found these.

  • The Guardian talks of Devon joy and a financial boost for the town.
  • ITV says it will boost tourism and give access to education and work for local people.
  • Devon Live also talks of joy and a feat of engineering.
  • The Tavistock Times Gazette talks of a new bus service between Tavistock and the railway at Okehampton.

It’s a much more optimistic situation compared to that portrayed in this article in The Times from 2011, which was entitled Okehampton Workers Living On Food Parcels After Business Closures.

November 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Railway Restored: Regular Trains To Run On Dartmoor Line For First Time In 50 Years

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

These are the three main points of the press release.

  • First passenger train on the first Restoring Your Railway reopening will run on Wednesday 17 November, ahead of public services resuming on Saturday 20 November
  • Restored in just nine months, and delivered £10m under budget, transforming a mothballed former freight railway to regular services.
  • Reopening is the first of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway schemes to return to service, fulfilling a manifesto commitment.

This Network Rail picture shows the first train.

It’s good to see, GWR made a name plate.

Network Rail have set themselves a good precedent to open the line in nine months and £10 million under budget.

Let’s hope they repeat this performance on other reopened lines.

November 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments