The Anonymous Widower

Possible Destinations For An 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.

  • Avanti West Coast – Euston and Chester – 21 miles
  • Avanti West Coast – Euston and Shewsbury – 29.6 miles
  • Avanti West Coast – Euston and Wrexham General – 33 miles
  • Grand Central – Kings Cross and Sunderland – 47 miles
  • 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
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Sunderland – 47 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 Avanti West Coast, Grand Central, GWR and LNER have plans for other destinations.

A Battery Electric Train With A Range of 56 Miles

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train is deescribed in this infographic.

The battery range is given as 90 kilometres or 56 miles.

This battery range would mean that of the fifteen destinations I proposed, the following could could be achieved on a full battery.

  • Chester
  • Shewsbury
  • Wrexham General
  • Bedwyn
  • Bristol Temple Meads
  • Cheltenham
  • Oxford
  • Swansea
  • Hull
  • Harrogate
  • Huddersfield
  • Lincoln
  • Middlesbrough

Of these a return trip could probably be achieved without charging to Chester, Shrewsbury, Bedwyn, Bristol Temple Meads, Oxford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Lincoln and Middlesbrough.

  • 86.7 % of destinations could be reached, if the train started with a full battery
  • 60 % of destinations could be reached on an out and back basis, without charging at the destination.

Only just over a quarter of the routes would need, the trains to be charged at the destination.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Hitachi have done some analysis to determine the best battery size. But that is obviously to be expected.

 

 

 

December 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train Between Paddington And Bedwyn

This is probably one of the easiest services for GWR to run using a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification.

Consider.

  • The route is fully electrified between London Paddington and Newbury.
  • It is 13.3 miles between Bedwyn and Newbury, with two intermediate stations.
  • There is under thirty miles without electrification in a round trip between Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • There is a turnback siding at Bedwyn, that could be fitted with a charger if required.
  • Current trains take 17 minutes for between Bedwyn and Newbury, which is an average speed of 47 mph.
  • The trains would run at up to 125 mph between Paddington and Reading.
  • If the Great Western Main Line gets full in-cab digital ERTMS digital signalling, they will be able to take advantage and run at up to 140 mph between Reading and Paddington.

If it could be shown to be able to run the route reliably, I feel that a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train with a mix of diesel engines and battery packs might be the ideal train.

  • Large amounts of power would not be needed to maintain an average speed of 47 mph between Newbury and Bedwyn, which from my helicopter appears to be a fairly level railway by the side of the Kennett and Avon Canal.
  • Except in emergencies, I doubt that diesel running would be needed.

On my list of possible services for these trains, they would also be able to work GWR services between Paddington and Oxford or any other station with a less than thirty mile round trip away from the electrification

December 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Station Stop Performance Of The Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Hitachi have stated that the their Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains will not use their diesel engines in stations and to leave the station.

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.

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 am always being told by drivers of electric cars, trains and buses, that they have sparkling performance and my experience of riding in battery electric trains, indicates to me, that if the battery packs are well-engineered, then it is likely that performance in battery mode could be similar to electric mode, although acceleration and operating speed my be reduced to enable a longer range.

If this is the case, then the following times for a station call with a 75 mph operating speed are possible.

  • Electric mode – 50 + 60 + 100  = 210 seconds
  • Diesel mode – 50 + 60 + 140  = 250 seconds
  • Battery mode – 50 + 60 + 100  = 210 seconds

Note.

  1. The three figures for each mode are deceleration time, station dwell time and acceleration time.
  2. Times are measured from the start of deceleration from 75 mph, until the train accelerates back to 75 mph.
  3. I have assumed the train is in the station for one minute.

I suspect with a stop from 100 mph, that there are greater savings to be made than the forty seconds at 75 mph, due to the reduced acceleration in diesel mode past 100 kph.

Savings Between London Paddington And Penzance

There are fifteen stops between London Paddington and Penzance, which could mean over ten minutes could be saved on the journey.

This may not seem that significant, but it should be born in mind, that the fastest journey times between London and Penzance are between five hours and eight minutes and five hours and fourteen minutes.

So these small savings could bring a London Paddington and Penzance journey much closer to five hours.

Savings Between London Kings Cross And Inverness

There are probably not as great savings to be made on this route.

  • The electrification runs as far as Stirling.
  • There are only five intermediate stops between Stirling and Inverness
  • Stirling and Inverness are 151 miles apart.

On the other hand, the route has a lot of gradients, which may give opportunities to use the batteries to boost power on climbs and save fuel and emissions.

Conclusion

Replacing one or more of the diesel engines on a Class 800, 802, 805 or 810 train, on a route, where the full complement of diesel engines is not required, may well result in time savings on the journey, simply by reducing the time taken to accelerate back to operating speed.

I have indicated two routes, where savings can be made, but there may be other routes, where savings are possible.

December 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Greater Anglia Amends Class 720 Order From Bombardier To Increase Flexibility

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

Greater Anglia is changing its order for Class 720 trains from a mixed fleet of 22 x ten-car and 89 x five-car to one of 133 x five-car.

The order is still 665 carriages in total.

In Why Do Some Train Operators Still Buy Half-Trains?, I tried to answer the question in the title of the post.

There have also been articles in railway magazines, questioning the practice of buying short trains and doubling them up.

In the UK, the following companies are running new trains in pairs.

  • Great Western Railway – Class 800 and Class 802
  • LNER – Class 800
  • London Overground – Class 710

The only creditable explanation I have heard was from a driver, who said that if one train in a pair fails, you can still run a short train.

Abd now Greater Anglia say it’s for increased flexibility!

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

GWR Buys Vehicles Outright In HST Fleet Expansion

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Despite concerns over future passenger numbers, the Department for Transport has given permission for Great Western Railway to procure three more shortened HST diesel trainsets, branded as the Castle Class by the franchisee.

These pictures show some of the Castle Class trains.

They must be profitable and/or popular with passengers.

If I have a problem with these trains, it is with the Class 43 diesel power cars.

  • Each train has two power cars.
  • It would appear that there are about 150 of the Class 43 power cars in regular service.
  • Each is powered by a modern MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engine, that is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The engines are generally less than a dozen years old.
  • They will be emitting a lot of carbon dioxide.

As the trains are now only half as long as they used to be, I would suspect, that the engines won’t be working as hard, as they can.

Hopefully, this will mean less emissions.

The article says this about use of the fleet.

With its fleet now increasing to 14, GWR expects to use 12 each day on services across the west of England. Currently the fleet is deployed on the Cardiff – Bristol – Penzance corridor, but the company is still evaluating how the additional sets will be used.

It also says, that they are acquiring rolling stock from other sources. Some of which will be cannibalised for spares.

Are First Rail Holdings Cutting Carbon Emissions?

First Rail Holdings, who are GWR’s parent, have announced in recent months three innovative and lower-carbon fleets from Hitachi, for their subsidiary companies.

Hitachi have also announced a collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to provide battery packs to replace diesel engines, that could be used on Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

First Rail Holdings have these Class 800/802 fleets.

  • GWR – 36 x five-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 21 x nine-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 22 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • GWR – 14 x nine-car Class 802 trains
  • TransPennine Express – 19 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • Hull Trains – 5 x five-car Class 802 trains

Note.

  1. That is a total of 117 trains.
  2. As five-car trains have three diesel engines and nine-car trains have five diesel engines, that is a total of 357 engines.
  3. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Hull Trains’s Services?, I showed that Hull Trains could run their services with a Fast Charging system in Hull station.
  4. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?, I concluded that Class 802 trains equipped with batteries could handle all their routes without diesel and some strategically-placed charging stations.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, there is a section called Powertrain, where this is said.

According to Modern Railways magazine, the limited space available for the GUs has made them prone to overheating. It claims that, on one day in summer 2018, “half the diagrammed units were out of action as engines shut down through overheating.

So would replacing some diesel engines with battery packs, also reduce this problem, in addition to cutting carbon emissions?

It does appear to me, that First Rail Holdings could be cutting carbon emissions in their large fleet of Hitachi Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

The Class 43 power cars could become a marketing nightmare for the company?

Could Class 43 Power Cars Be Decarbonised?

Consider.

  • Class 43 power cars are forty-five years old.
  • They have been rebuilt with new MTU engines in the last dozen years or so.
  • I suspect MTU and GWR know everything there is to know about the traction system of a Class 43 power car.
  • There is bags of space in the rear section of the power car.
  • MTU are part of Rolls-Royce, who because of the downturn in aviation aren’t performing very well!

But perhaps more importantly, the power cars are iconic, so anybody, who decarbonises these fabulous beasts, gets the right sort of high-class publicity.

I would also feel, if you could decarbonise these power cars, the hundreds of diesel locomotives around the world powered by similar diesel engines could be a useful market.

What methods could be used?

Biodiesel

Running the trains on biodiesel would be a simple solution.

  • It could be used short-term or long-term.
  • MTU has probably run the engines on biodiesel to see how they perform.
  • Biodiesel could also be used in GWR’s smaller diesel multiple units, like Class 150, 158, 165 and 166 trains.

Some environmentalists think biodiesel is cheating as it isn’t zero-carbon.

But it’s my view, that for a lot of applications it is a good interim solution, especially, as companies like Altalto, will be making biodiesel and aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, which would otherwise be incinerated or go to landfill.

The Addition Of Batteries

This page on the Hitachi Rail Ltd web site shows this image of the V-Train 2.

This is the introduction to the research program, which was based on a High Speed Train, fotmed of two Class 43 power cars and four Mark 3 carriages.

The V-Train 2 was a demonstration train designed in order to demonstrate our skills and expertise while bidding for the Intercity Express Programme project.

The page  is claiming, that a 20 % fuel saving could be possible.

This paragraph talks about performance.

The V-Train 2 looked to power the train away from the platform using batteries – which would in turn be topped up by regenerative braking when a train slowed down to stop at a station. Acceleration would be quicker and diesel saved for the cruising part of the journey.

A similar arrangement to that Hitachi produced in 2005 could be ideal.

  • Technology has moved on significantly in the intervening years.
  • The performance would be adequate for a train that just trundles around the West Country at 90 mph.
  • The space in the rear of the power car could hold a lot of batteries.
  • The power car would be quiet and emission-free in stations.
  • There would be nothing to stop the diesel engine running on biodiesel.

This might be the sort of project, that Hitachi’s partner in the Regional Battery Train; Hyperdrive Innovation. would probably be capable of undertaking.

MTU Hybrid PowerPack

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that MTU have a drop-in solution for the current 6V4000 R41R diesel engine, that includes a significant amount of batteries.

This must be a serious possibility.

Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW Generator

In Our Sustainability Journey, I talk about rail applications of Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator, that has been developed to provide power for electric flight.

In the post, I discuss fitting the generator into a Class 43 power car and running it on aviation biofuel.

I conclude the section with this.

It should also be noted, that more-efficient and less-polluting MTU engines were fitted in Class 43s from 2005, so as MTU is now part of Rolls-Royce, I suspect that Rolls-Royce have access to all the drawings and engineers notes, if not the engineers themselves

But it would be more about publicity for future sales around the world, with headlines like.

Iconic UK Diesel Passenger Trains To Receive Green Roll-Royce Jet Power!

COVID-19 has given Rolls-Royce’s aviation business a real hammering, so perhaps they can open up a new revenue stream by replacing the engines of diesel locomotives,

I find this an intriguing possibility. Especially, if it were to be fitted with a battery pack.

Answering My Original Question

In answering my original question, I feel that there could be several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a Class 43 power car.

It should also be noted that other operators are users of Class 43 power cars.

  • ScotRail – 56
  • CrossCountry – 12
  • East Midlands Railway – 39
  • Network Rail – 3

Note.

  1. ScotRail’s use of the power cars, is very similar to that of GWR.
  2. CrossCountry’s routes would need a lot of reorganisation to be run by say Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.
  3. East Midlands Railway are replacing their Inter-City 125s with new Class 810 trains.

The picture shows the power car of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train.

These may well be the most difficult to decarbonise, as I suspect they need to run at 125 mph on some routes, which do not have electrification and there are no 125 mph self-powered locomotives. After the Stonehaven crash, there may be more tests to do and a second train may be needed by Network Rail.

Why Are GWR Increasing Their Castle Class Fleet?

These are possible reasons.

GWR Want To Increase Services

This is the obvious explanation, as more services will need more trains.

GWR Want To Update The Fleet

There may be something that they need to do to all the fleet, so having a few extra trains would enable them to update the trains without cutting services.

GWR Want To Partially Or Fully Decarbonise The Power Cars

As with updating the fleet,  extra power cars would help, as they could be modified first and then given a thorough testing before entering passenger service.

GWR Have Been Made An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Suppose Rolls-Royce, MTU or another locomotive power plant manufacturer has a novel idea, they want to test.

Over the years, train operating companies have often tested modified trains and locomotives for manufacturers.

So has a manufacturer, asked GWR to test something in main line service?

Are Other Train Operators Thinking Of Using Introducing More Short-Formed InterCity 125 Trains?

This question has to be asked, as I feel there could be routes, that would be suitable for a net-zero carbon version of a train, like a GWR Castle or a ScotRail Inter7City.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains is now run by the Department for Transport and has surely the most suitable route in the UK for a shorted-formed InterCity 125 train – Leeds and Carlisle via the Settle and Carlisle Line.

Northern Trains may have other routes.

Transport for Wales Rail Services

Transport for Wales Rail Services already run services between Cardiff Central and Holyhead using diesel locomotive hauled services and long distance services between South Wales and Manchester using diesel multiple units.

Would an iconic lower-carbon train be a better way of providing some services and attract more visitors to the Principality?

Conclusion

GWR must have a plan, but there are few clues to what it is.

The fact that the trains have been purchased rather than leased could be significant and suggests to me that because there is no leasing company involved to consult, GWR are going to do major experimental modifications to the trains.

They may be being paid, by someone like an established or new locomotive engine manufacturer.

It could also be part of a large government innovation and decarbonisation project.

My hunch says that as First Rail Holdings appear to be going for a lower-carbon fleet, that it is about decarbonising the Class 43 power cars.

The plan would be something like this.

  • Update the three new trains to the new specification.
  • Give them a good testing, before certifying them for service.
  • Check them out in passenger service.
  • Update all the trains.

The three extra trains would give flexibility and mean that there would always be enough trains for a full service.

Which Methods Could Be Used To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of The Class 43 Power Cars?

These must be the front runners.

  • A Hitachi/Hyperdrive Innovation specialist battery pack.
  • An MTU Hybrid PowerPack.
  • A Rolls-Royce MTU solution based on the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator with batteries.

All would appear to be viable solutions.

 

 

 

 

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

High Speed Train Seats Used To Deliver Fresh Fish

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

East Japan Railway is testing the use of high speed passenger trains to move fresh fish from Sendai to Tokyo.

The last paragraph explains the title.

These services do not use passenger accommodation, unlike JR East’s latest test programme where the No 1 car is closed to passengers so that the seats can be used to transport the containers of fish.

But then the idea isn’t new as Great Western Railway ran a trial in 2015, with the fish travelling in the back of the locomotive on an Intercity 125. That story is also in Railway Gazette.

August 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Magor And Undy Walkway Station

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

I actually covered this proposal before in ‘Walkway’ Rail Station Plan For Magor As M4 Relief Road Scrapped,

I’ll repeat the start of that post.

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

A village heavily affected by the decision to scrap the planned M4 relief road is bidding for help to build a £7m railway station there.

Residents of Magor in Monmouthshire have the mainline rail service to London running through the village, but no station.

They want to create a “walkway” station – one with no car parking that travellers will walk or cycle to.

The original Magor station was shut in the Beeching cuts in November 1964.

The Villages Of Magor And Undy

This Google Map shows the villages of Magor and Undy and their relationship to the roads and railway in the area.

Note.

  1. The Northern motorway is the M48, which leads to the original Severn Bridge.
  2. The Southern motorway is the M4, which leads to the newer Second Severn Crossing.
  3. Between the two lies the South Wales Main Line, with the two stations; Severn Tunnel Junction and Caldicot.
  4. At the Western end of the map, the railway runs between the two villages of Magor and Undy.

This second Google Map shows the villages.

Note.

  1. The M4 running East-West to the North of Magor.
  2. Magor services is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. The South Wales Main Line running through the villages.

There certainly seems to be a lot of housing to provide passengers for the new station.

The Location Of Magor And Undy Station

On this web page on Rail Future, which is entitled Magor, this is said.

The station site is where the B4245 road passes closest to the railway line. The Monmouthshire County Council traffic survey shows that some 11 – 12,000 cars a day pass along this road through the middle of the villages. The shift from car to train use is primarily aimed at capturing those who at present are not prepared to drive the two and half miles to the east just to catch the train at Severn Tunnel Junction to travel the two and a half miles back passing their homes for the seven and a half mile journey into Newport, and hence at present use their car for the whole journey instead. The site also has the advantage of direct integration with the buses as the bus services pass the entrance to the site of the proposed Station and Community centre every half an hour.

This Google Map shows the B4245 road and the railway.

Note.

  1. The B4245 curving across the map.
  2. There are already two bus stops, which are marked by blue dots.
  3. There is a footbridge over the railway, which doesn’t appear to be step-free.

As Rail Future is probably correct, the position of the station is fairly obvious.

Various documents on the Internet talk about the station being built on the Three Field Site, which the local council bought for community purposes some years ago. Could the triangle of land between the B4245 and the railway, be this site?

Thoughts On The Station

Reading the web page on Rail Future, the following seems to be stated.

  • The platforms will be on the two outside tracks of the four through the station. These are the Relief Lines.
  • The two Fast Lines will be in the centre.
  • Existing crossovers will allow trains from the Fast Lines to call in the station.

Unlike at other proposed stations to the West of Newport, the tracks will not need major works to slew them to accommodate the new platforms.

I would also do the following.

Incorporate Wide Platforms

This picture was taken of the new platform at Stevenage station.

If the station gets busy, a wide platform will ease loading and unloading.

As Magor and Undy station, will be one that encourages passengers to cycle to the station, would a wide platform make it easier for passengers, who are travelling with bicycles?

Step-Free Between Train And Platform

Greater Anglia are using similar trains to South Wales and the Stadler Flirts in East Anglia offer step-free access between train and platform, as this picture shows.

South Wales should offer a similar standard of step-free access. as it eases access and cuts train delays.

A Step-Free Footbridge

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Magor and Undy station?

  • The bridge can be sized to fit any gap.
  • If the platforms were wide enough, I think it would be possible.
  • It can have lifts that can take bicycles.
  • A bridge like this would also reduce the cost.

So the station can have a stylish, affordable, fully step-free footbridge.

A Walkway Along The Railway

It strikes me that a walkway on the Southern side of the railway to connect the communities South of the railway to the station could be very useful.

Electrification

The South Wales Main Line is electrified between London and Cardiff and Great Western Railway’s Class 802 trains between London and Swansea, change between electricity and diesel at Cardiff Central station.

All four lines at Severn Tunnel Junction appear to be electrified, so will all four lines at Magor and Undy station be electrified?

They certainly should be, to improve the reliability of electric services between London and South Wales.

Train Services

I suspect that the calling pattern of train will be similar to that at Severn Tunnel Junction, which is the next station to the East. The Wikipedia entry for Severn Tunnel Junction says this about services at that station.

The station is served by two main routes – Transport for Wales’ Cheltenham Spa to Cardiff Central and Maesteg via Chepstow local service and Great Western Railway’s Cardiff to Taunton via Bristol line. Both run hourly on weekdays & Saturdays, albeit with some two-hour gaps on the Chepstow line. In the weekday peaks, certain Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour also stop here, whilst there is a daily train to Fishguard Harbour. CrossCountry also provides very limited services to/from Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol and to Nottingham via Gloucester and Birmingham New Street.

On Sundays, the Bristol to Cardiff service is once again hourly (and runs to/from Portsmouth) whist the Cheltenham service is two-hourly.

I think that this could result in these train frequencies in trains per hour (tph), from Magor station.

  • Caldicot – 2 tph
  • Cardiff Central – 4 tph
  • Cjeltenham – 1 tph
  • Chepstow – 2 tph
  • Gloucester – 1 tph
  • Newport – 4 tph
  • Severn Tunnel Junction – 4 tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the CrossCountry services don’t stop.
  2. As there seem to be proposals to add extra stations between Newport and Cardiff Central, these new stations could also get a service with a frequency of between two and four tph.

Working on rules that apply in Liverpool and London, and may apply to the South Wales Metro, I think that a Turn-Up-And-Go service of a train every fifteen minutes is needed between Magor and Undy station and the important Newport and Cardiff stations.

Battery Electric Trains Along The South Wales Main Line

The railways are being decarbonised and plans will have to be made to run all secondary services on the South Wales Main Line without diesel.

Hitachi have already played their cards, with the announcement of a Regional Battery Train, which will be created by replacing some of the numerous diesel engines on a Class 802 train with battery packs.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the train.

The range of ninety kilometres or fifty-six miles is interesting.

  • Cardiff Central and Swansea are 46 miles apart, so with a charging facility at Swansea, Great Western Railway could run diesel-free between London Paddington and Swansea.
  • I suspect too, that destinations to the West of Swansea could also be served with intelligent placing of a second charging facility at perhaps Carmarthen.

But it’s not just Hitachi, who have made plans for battery electric trains.

  • Transport for Wales have ordered twenty-four Stadler Class 756 trains, which are tri-mode and can run on electrification, diesel or battery power.
  • Transport for Wales have also ordered eleven Stadler Class 231 trains, which are only bi-mode.
  • Both these fleets seem very similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which Stadler have said can be converted to 100 mph tri-mode operation, with perhaps a forty mile range on battery power.
  • I have ridden several times in Class 755 trains and without doubt, they are one of the best diesel-powered trains, I have used in the UK.

So I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that Transport for Wales have the capability to run battery electric services with the fleet they have ordered given a few simple upgrades, that may already be planned for Greater Anglia.

But will the Welsh train builder; CAF, be happy with Hitachi and Stadler running their battery electric trains at high speed past their factory and onward to England and West Wales?

I doubt it and CAF have already made a response.

In Northern’s Battery Plans, I said this about CAF’s plans to create a battery electric Class 331 train for Northern.

It appears that CAF will convert some three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • A three-car Class 331 train has a formation of DMSOL+PTS+DMSO.
  • A fourth car with batteries will be inserted into the train.
  • Batteries will also be added to the PTS car.

I suspect that CAF  would be happy to convert some of Transport for Wales order for diesel Class 197 trains into one for suitable battery electric trains.

I believe some of the services that are planned to be run by these diesel trains into Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, appear to be ideal routes for battery electric trains.

These diesel trains will still be serviceable in 2060, which will be long past the cut-off date for diesel trains in the UK.

So why not replace them before they are built?

  • The CAF Civity train is modular, so I doubt it would make much difference to CAF’s manufacturing process.
  • The diesel version of the Civity has a noisy transmission compared to the electric version.

It would surely, be better for CAF’s marketing.

Could the various routes through Magor be operated by battery electric trains?

These are my thoughts on the various routes.

Maesteg And Cheltenham Spa

This service is hourly and run by Transport for Wales.

  • Currently, the service seems to be running to Gloucester.
  • Maesteg and Cardiff Central is not electrified and 28.5 miles long.
  • Trains seem to take over 8-9 minutes to turn back at Maesteg.
  • Cardiff Central and Severn Tunnel Junction is electrified.
  • Severn Tunnel Junction and Gloucester is not electrified and is 35 miles long.
  • Trains seem to take over 25 minutes to turn back at Gloucester.

It certainly looks that with charging facilities at Maesteg and Gloucester, this service could be run by a battery electric train with a range of forty miles on battery power.

Fishguard And Gloucester

This service is occasional and run by Transport for Wales.

The problem with this service will be to the West of Swansea.

But if Great Western Railway and Transport for Wales put their heads and services together, I feel there is a cunning plan to run battery electric trains to Fishguard, with perhaps charging facilities at Fishguard, Carmarthen and Swansea.

Cardiff And Bristol Temple Meads

This service is two tph and run by Great Western Railway.

On the Welsh side of the Severn Tunnel, this could be an electric service.

On the English side, there is only ten miles of line without electrification between the South Wales Main Line and Bristol Temple Meads station.

This service in wales can be considered an electric service, as it is only onwards from Bristol Temple Meads to Taunton and Portsmouth Harbour, that charging facilities will be needed.

Conclusion

I like this scheme and as it looks like the trains will be running on electric power, through Magor and Undy station, it could be a very good one.

 

 

August 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Goodrington and Churston Stations

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

I wrote about a similar project, that had been proposed by the Association of Train Operating Companies in Between Exeter And Paignton. after I visited Devon, three years ago.

The basic idea is described in a section called Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Riviera Line, where this is said.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies identified Brixham as one of fourteen towns for which the provision of a new railway service would have a positive benefit-cost ratio. This would be an extension of the Great Western Railway service beyond Paignton to Churston station on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, which would then act as a railhead for Brixham. It would also serve other housing developments in the area since the opening of the steam railway, and may require the doubling of that line between Paignton and Goodrington Sands.

This Google Map shows between Paignton and Goodrington Sands stations.

Note.

  1. Paignton station is marked by a station sign towards the top of the map.
  2. Goodrington Sands station is towards the bottom of the map.

The two stations seem well placed to serve the serve the town of Paignton and its beaches.

This second Google Map shows the Goodrington Sands and Churston stations in relation to Brixham and Berry Head.

Note.

  1. Goodrington Sands station is at the top of the map.
  2. Two other stations on the Dartmouth Steam Railway are shown; Greenway Halt and Churston.
  3. Churston station is the most Northerly of the pair.

Churston station looks well-placed for Brixham.

These are my thoughts.

The Current Train Service

The train service between Paignton and Exeter St. Davids is run by Great Western Railway.

There are basically two services,

  1. A two train per hour (tph) service between Paignton and Exmouth via Torquay and Exeter St. Davids. I have used it and it is a useful local service for commuters, shoppers and visitors, although it could do with some modern trains.
  2. Occasional trains during the day to London Paddington.

There are also some CrossCountry trains going to and from Manchester Piccadilly.

The Dartmouth Steam Railway also runs trains between Paignton and via Goodrington Sands and Churston.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This train is described in this infographic from Hitachi.

I believe it will revolutionise rail travel in the South West of England, as shorter lengths of electrification, will enable this train based on current Class 800 and Class 802 trains to run all-electric services between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids, Newquay, Paignton, Penzance and Plymouth.

Exeter St. Davids As A Hub For Battery Electric Trains

Exeter St. Davids station could become a major hub for battery electric trains.

These are distances to various stations.

  • Barnstaple – 39 miles
  • Exmouth – 11 miles
  • Paignton – 28 miles
  • Plymouth – 52 miles
  • Taunton – 32 miles
  • Yeovil Junction – 49 miles

All of these would be in range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train or any battery electric train with sufficient range, that was fully-charged at Exeter St. Davids station.

The station has plenty of space and several long platforms, so I believe it would make an ideal hub for battery electric trains.

Could Battery Electric Trains Work The Riviera Line?

The Riviera Line was designed by Brunel for atmospheric power. Perhaps, he had observed the weather and felt the massive seas would make it difficult for for the steam locomotives of the day?

As an Electrical Engineer, I certainly couldn’t recommend electrifying through Dawlish with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

I took the picture from an InterCity 125 in 2011 and the seas seem to have got worse. Remember, that the line was washed away at Dawlish in February 2014.

But Hitachi’s Class 802 trains, seem to be handling the route on diesel power, without too much trouble.

I would expect that if one or more of the diesel engines are swapped for battery packs that the performance in heavy seas will not be worse.

But the biggest advantage of battery electric trains on the Riviera Line would surely be one of marketing.

And not just of the environmentally-friendly train service by Great Western Railway and CrossCountry, but by Hitachi in the marketing of their trains all over the world.

The only minor problem, I can see, could be the provision of charging at Paignton, as a 28 mile journey twice might be on the limit of the range of a battery electric train. Unless of course, bigger batteries were fitted!

A Splash-and-Dash At Newton Abbott

Newton Abbott station is roughly halfway between Plymouth and Exeter St. Davids and might be needed to give a Splash-and-Dash to trains between Devon’s two cities.

Some trains terminate at the station and others seem to take a leisurely stop at the station, so it could be a valuable calling point in a discontinuous electrification strategy.

Edginswell Station

Wikipedia has an entry for a new Edginswell station.

This is said.

Edginswell railway station is a proposed station in the Edginswell area of Torquay, Devon. The station would be located on the Riviera Line between Newton Abbot and Torre stations. Edginswell will be the location of employment and housing development and the new station will support this development. The station would also serve Torbay Hospital, The Willows retail park and the Torquay Gateway development area.

Plans for the station are being developed by Network Rail and Devon County Council.

This Google Map shows the area, where I think the station could be built.

Note.

  1. The large red dot indicates Edginswell.
  2. The main road across the map, was built on the North side of the Riviera Line.
  3. The Willows retail park lies to the North of the Hospital on the other side of the road and the railway.
  4. Torbay Hospital lies in the bend of the road and the railway.

This second Google Map shows an enlargement of the area to the North of the large red dot in the previous map.

Note.

  1. The A380 or South Devon Expressway leaving the map to the North-West. This road connects Torquay and the neighbouring towns and villages to the A38 and M5, which connect to the rest of the UK Motorway network.
  2. The Riviera Line passing across the North-East corner of the map.

Could this be the position to build a large Park-and-Ride station?

  • It is a sizeable site, with good rail and road connections.
  • I would estimate that the distance between Edginswell and Churston is under ten miles.
  • Frequent electric shuttle buses could take people to the hospital and the nearby retail parks.
  • Battery electric shuttle trains with a frequency of up to four tph could run between Exeter St. Davids and Paignton or another suitable terminal.
  • Shuttle trains could charge at Edginswell and probably manage two round trips in an hour.
  • This article on DevonLive is entitled Gridlocked Devon: Pollution – The Invisible Killer On Devon’s Roads, says a lot in the title.
  • Long distance trains run by Great Western Railway or CrossCountry could call.
  • Could some heritage trains terminate at Edginswell station?
  • Would a Park-and-Ride station allow some of the land taken up by car parking along the coast, to be released for other purposes, more in tune with today’s mood?

It would be very interesting to see what would happen, if Edginswell station was built as a Park-and-Ride station with a Turn-Up-and-Go service to Torquay and Paignton and their beaches.

Paignton Station

This Google Map shows Paignton station.

Note.

  1. The station has three National Rail platforms and one heritage platform for the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
  2. There is also a level crossing at the Northern end of the station, where Torbay Road crosses the railway.

Obviously, I don’t know the definitive answer, but would fitting a Fast Charge system to charge battery trains into the station be difficult because of the lack of space.

Goodrington Sands Station

This Google Map shows Goodrington Sands station.

Note.

  1. Goodrington Sands station has two platforms.
  2. There is a comprehensive track layout between Paignton and Goodrington Sands stations.
  3. South of Goodrington Sands station, the line becomes single-track
  4. Goodrington Sands station appears to be surrounded by car parks.
  5. The only bridge across the railway appears to be at the North end of the station.

I think that a well-designed Goodrington Sands station could feature the following.

  • Charging for battery trains.
  • There might be a bay platform to turn and charge trains.
  • A step-free bridge across the tracks.
  • Easy walking routes to the nearby attractions.
  • At least four tph to and from Edginswell, if that is built as a Park-and-Ride station.

Churston Station

This Google Map shows Churston station.

Note.

  1. Churston station is towards the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The station has two platforms.

Until I see the station, I am inclined to think, that the site would be a difficult one, in which to fit a Fast Charge system.

Conclusion

I can see the addition of Goodrington Sands and Churston turning the Riviera Line into a Coastal Metro between Exmouth and Churston.

I do think, the following would make it the ultimate rail line for the area.

  • A Park-and-Ride station at Edginswell.
  • Battery electric operation.
  • A Turn-Up-and-Go frequency of four tph, between Exeter St. Davids and Churston.
  • Two tph between Exmouth and Churston.
  • One tph between London Paddington and Churston.
  • One tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Churston.

It may be that some trains will turn back at Paignton or Goodrington Sands.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

August 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Mid-Cornwall Metro

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This is a strange project, as I can’t find a detailed description of what it entails.

All I can think, is that it is a general project to run all the local lines in Cornwall as a unified whole.

Great Western Railway runs these services in Cornwall.

  • Cornish Main Line – London Paddington and Penzance – One train per two hours (tp2h) – Calling at Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne and St Erth
  • Cornish Main Line – Exeter St. Davids and Penzance – One train per hour (tph) – Calling at Newton Abbot, Totnes, Ivybridge, Plymouth, Devonport, Dockyard, Keyham, St Budeaux Ferry Road, Saltash, St Germans, Menheniot, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, Hayle and St Erth
  • Looe Valley Line – Liskeard and Looe – One tph – Calling at Coombe Junction Halt, St Keyne Wishing, Well Halt, Causeland and Sandplace.
  • Atlantic Coast Line – Par and Newquay – One tp2h – Calling at Luxulyan, Bugle, Roche, St Columb Road and Quintrell Downs
  • Maritime Line – Truro and Falmouth Docks – Two tph – Calling at Perranwell (1tph), Penryn, Penmere and Falmouth Town
  • St. Ives Bay Line – St. Erth and St. Ives – Two tph – Calling at Lelant Saltings, Lelant and Carbis Bay

Could frequencies and connectivities be improved?

Other Beeching Reversal projects are also aiming to improve the railways in Cornwall.

Transforming the Newquay Line
Reinstatement of Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway and associated works
Increased service provision Bodmin General-Bodmin Parkway

I think the first might increase frequencies on the Newquay to one tph or even two tph and the Bodmin General station improvements should create a useful new platform.

Wikipedia mentions this project.

Reopening The Lostwithiel And Fowey Railway To Passengers

Are there any other lines, stations or platforms, that could be reopened, given a passenger service or or an increase in frequency?

Conclusion

Someone must have a plan somewhere! So can they please disclose it?

 

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Shepton Mallet (Mendip Vale)

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This article on Rail Technology News is entitled Shepton Mallet Railway Station And Services Could Be Restored Under New Vision.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

National rail services could be restored to a Somerset town after the local authority unveiled a new vision for the rail route.

Shepton Mallet’s current nearest mainline station is Castle Cary which is over seven miles away, but new stations and a bypass have been proposed in a business case from Mendip District Council for major new transport projects.

In the Wikipedia entry for the East Somerset Railway, this is said.

On 25 March 2007, the East Somerset Railway announced that it had received a £7,500 grant from Shepton 21 Group, a local organisation, set up to regenerate the area around Shepton Mallet. The money was to be spent on conducting a feasibility study into extending the line towards Shepton Mallet, with a possible new terminus at Cannards Grave, on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet

This Google Map shows the South-Eastern edge of Shepton Mallet.

Note.

  1. The scar of the disused railway passing East-West through the town.
  2. Mendip Vale station on the East Somerset Railway on the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The Cannard’s Grave area of the town, with what appears to be a new road system.

Would it be possible to extend the East Somerset Railway to a new Parkway station in the Cannard’s Grave area?

It certainly looks the most likely plan.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route of the railway.

The railway may be only 2.5 miles long, but it does provide a connection for the important Merehead Quarry to the UK rail network.

The tracks to the Quarry and Shepton Mallet join up to the South West of the quarry before joining the Heart of Wessex Line, that connects Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth stations via Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Frome. Castle Cary and Yeovil.

Passenger Train Services

This Google Map shows East Somerset Junction, where the branch line joins the Heart of Wessex Line.

Note.

  1. Frome, Westbury, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads are to the North East.
  2. The double-track railway going South-West is the Heart of Wessex Line to Castle Cary, Yeovil and Weymouth.
  3. The East Somerset Railway is the single-track joining from the West.

There is no direct access to and from the branch from the South-West. But then all of the quarry traffic needs to go to and from via the junction at Westbury.

In Westbury Station – 30th July 2020, I discussed the development of Westbury station.

This was my conclusion.

Could Westbury station develop into a zero-carbon rail transport hub for Wiltshire?

    1. It has an hourly train service between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids.
    2. It has an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
    3. There are hourly services to stations like Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham, Dorchester, Frome, Swindon, Taunton, Trowbridge and Yeovil

It could be electrified to charge battery electric trains as they pass through.

Perhaps, an hourly service between Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations could be added to the services?

  • I estimate that Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations are about 13.5 miles apart
  • With an intermediate stop at Frome, I estimate that it would be a twenty minute journey.
  • A shuttle would need just one train and could run a passenger-friendly clock-face timetable.
  • A two-car diesel multiple unit would probably be good enough to open the service.
  • The service could be fully-integrated with all the other services passing through Westbury.

It would also be a shuttle service, that could be run using a battery electric train charging at Westbury station.

Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro

The route could be ideal for Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro.

  • It is 27 miles for a round trip.
  • I’m sure space could be found for charging at either Shepton Mallet or Westbury.
  • A two-car train would be large enough.

it could be an extension to the Transwilts local system.

Conclusion

I like this proposal.

  • The only infrastructure required is the Park-and-Ride station at Shepton Mallet Parkway.
  • Much of the route is currently used by heavy freight trains.
  • I doubt that the East Somerset Railway will object.
  • I’m sure, that a diesel multiple unit could be found for the shuttle.
  • The passenger services will have good connections at Westbury station.

In a future zero-carbon world, it could be run by battery electric trains, charging at Westbury station.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments