The Anonymous Widower

Greater Anglia Shows Off First Aventra Carriages

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

This is said.

Greater Anglia said the trains’ underfloor heating and air conditioning units will do away with the need for heating vents and create more legroom for passengers.

It does appear that Bombardier are trying very hard to create a more efficient and extremely passenger-friendly train.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Comparing Greater Anglia’s Old And New Electric Multiple Units

Currently, Greater Anglia has the following electric multiple units, which will be replaces by new Class 720 trains.

Class 317 Train

  • 68 x 4 car trains
  • Length 79.32 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.55 metre per second²
  • No regenerative braking
  • Capacity – 260/290 seats.
  • First Class section

Note the acceleration seems to be standard for all BR EMUs

Class 321 Train

  • 104 x 4 car trains
  • Length 79.8 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.55 metre per second²
  • Regenerative braking can be fitted.
  • Capacity – 309 seats.
  • First Class section

Thirty trains are being upgraded to the Class 321 Renatus

Class 360 Train

  • 21 x 4 car trains
  • Length 81.36 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.98 metre per second²
  • Regenerative braking.
  • Capacity – 280 seats.
  • First Class section

These are the specifications of the two lengths of new Class 720 trains.

Class 720 Train – Five Car

89 x 5-car trains

Length 122 metres

Capacity – 544 seats and 145 standing.

Class 720 Train – Ten Car

22 x 10-car trains

Length 243 metres

Capacity – 1145 seats and 290 standing.

All trains will have the following.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 1 metre per second²
  • Regenerative Braking (Using batteries?)
  • No First Class section.

Also, these trains are modern trains will all the features passengers, staff and train operators need and desire.

How Do Old And New Trains Compare?

Ten-Car Class 720 Trains

Note that these trains are just over 240 metres long, which is conveniently the length of three Class 321 or Class 360 trains.

When the order for the Class 720 trains was announced, this was said to have been a design criteria.

So will the twenty-one Class 360 trains, which regularly run as twelve-car trains be replaced by seven Class 720 trains?

  • There will be 1145 seats in the new trains, as opposed to 840 in the old.
  • There will be a Universal Access Toilet and three other toilets in the new trains, as opposed to a Universal Access Toilet in each train.
  • The new trains won’t have any First Class.
  • The new trains will be walk-through, with no intermediate cabs.
  • Operating speed and acceleration appears to be almost the same.
  • The new trains will have a lot more of the things passengers need.

It appears, that everybody could be a winner.

  • Passengers have 36 % more seats and better facilities.
  • On-board staff can handle the whole train without needing to get off to reach the other trains.
  • Network Rail won’t need to do much work to prepare for the new trains, as they fit the current platforms.
  • Maintenance of one train instead of three must be easier and less costly.

Most of these arguments also apply to replacing a three-train formation of Class 321 trains, which would give a capacity increase of 24 % more seats.

But there is one big difference.

The acceleration of Class 720 trains is nearly twice that of a Class 321 train, so there could be time savings on routes like Southend and ones with a higher number of stopss.

Destinations which the new ten-car trains from Liverpool Street station could serve include, with current frequencies in train per hour (tph)

  • Bishop’s Stortford
  • Cambridge – One tph
  • Cambridge North – One tph
  • Clacton – One tph
  • Colchester
  • Ipswich – One tph
  • Norwich
  • Southend – Three tph

With the current services and the timetable improvements, the new trains would bring could mean the following trains would be needed for

  • Cambridge – 2 trains for 1 tph
  • Cambridge North – 3 trains for 1 tph
  • Clacton – 3 trains for 1 tph
  • Ipswich – 2 trains for 1 tph
  • Southend – 8 trains for 4 tph

This is a total of eighteen trains, which would mean ideas like extending some of the Ipswich services to Norwich are possible.

One of the beauties of modern train design, is that lengthening and shortening trains is a relatively easy process, that was invented by Lego and refined by Microsoft with Plug-and-Play!

Five-Car Class 720 Trains Replacing The Current Eight-Car Services

Some destinations like Braintree, Colchester Town, Harwich, Kings Lynn and Walton-on-the-Naze can’t accommodate the current twelve car trains, so they can’t be served by new ten-car Class 720 trains.

So how does a five-car Class 720 train compare with two Class 321 or 360 trains working as an eight-car train.

  • There will be 544 seats and 146 standees in a five-car Class 720 train.
  • There will be 560 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 360 trains.
  • There will be 618 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 321 trains.
  • There will be about 440 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 317 trains
  • The new trains are 122 metres long, whereas the current eight-car trains are 160 metres long.
  • All trains have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The Class 720 and 360 trains have an acceleration of around 1 metre per second², whereas the acceleration of a Class 321 train is only 0.55 metre per second².

Given that the Class 720 is a modern train, designed with passengers, staff and operators in mind, I can’t see any problems with replacing the current eight-car trains with a five-car Class 720 train.

I also suspect that if required, an extra car could be added to make six-car trains with a length of 146 metres, that would be shorter than an eight-car Class 321 train.

Five-Car Class 720 Trains Replacing The Current Four-Car Services

There is only one electric service on Greater Anglia, that needs to be run using a four-car train and that is the service between Wickford to Southminster stations on the Crouch Valley Line.

Under Infrastructure in the |Wikipedia entry for the Crouch Valley Line, this is said.

Only Wickford and South Woodham Ferrers have platforms long enough to accommodate 12-coach trains, while each of the other stations on the line can accommodate eight coaches, though services on the line are typically only formed of four carriages due to the short terminus platforms at Wickford being able to only accommodate one four car unit.

So it would appear that the platform at Wickford station needs to be lengthened!

Or does it?

I’ve read that Greater Anglia plan to run four tph between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations, so trains will pass through Wickford station in both directions every fifteen minutes.

Helpfully, both services seem curently to be in the station at the same time.

So if this happens after the fourth train is added to the schedule, there will be a fifteen minute window, where there is no train movements at Wickford station.

So instead of using the current platform, a five-car Class 720 train could stop in one of the main platforms to discharge and pick-up passengers.

Hopefully, the better acceleration of the Class 720 trains could be able to run along the branch in well under thirty minutes to allow a genuine two tph service, as opposed to the current difficult timetable of a train every forty minutes.

Greater Anglia does run other four-car trains at times, but surely running a five-car train wouldn’t really matter and it may attract more passengers.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia seem to have made a good choice of train size.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Northumberland Park Station – 24th August 2018

Northumberland Park station is progressing.

It must have some of the longest pedestrian ramps in the UK.

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

How Removing Level Crossings Can Get Complicated And Expensive

This article in the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled Multi-Million Pound Lift Could Boost Rail Link From Sudbury To Colchester.

Greater Anglia intend to improve the service on the Gainsborough Line by running direct services between Sudbury and Colchester Town stations.

One of the reasons for doing this, is that the increasing number of passengers travelling between Sudbury and Colchester will avoid changing trains at Marks Tey station.

This Google Map shows Marks Tey station.

Note.

  • The two platforms on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The single platform for the Gainsborough Line.
  • The footbridge over the main line.

As can be seen, the only step-free interchange with the Gainsborough Line is to and from trains going North to Colchester and Ipswich.

These pictures show the frootbridge and the Gainsborough Line platform.

It is not an ideal interchange for passengers other than the unencumbered, fit and healthy.

I suspect some passengers from Sudbury to London might even take a train to Colchester first and then use the lifts to change to a London train.

And then there’s the Car Parking!

Note in the Google Map, that the station has two car parks, one on each side of the line. So most using the car parks will have to cross the line on the footbridge.

Also note, that the car park on the Northern side of the station, is connected to the station using a pedestrian crossing over the single track rail line, that connects the Gainsborough Line to the Great Eastern Main Line.

According to the East Anglian article, this rail line is used twice a day. But when the Sudbury to Colchester Town service starts, it will be used twice an hour. Anf if this service is successful, I can see Greater Anglia wanting to run the service with a frequency of two trains per hour (tph), which would mean four tph going over the pedestrian crossing.

Understandably, Network Rail want to remove the pedestrian crossing.

This is a paragraph from the East Anglian article.

The national fund has £300m available – and Mr Burles said he estimated that the cost of the work at Marks Tey would be between £4m and £5m. It is at the top of Greater Anglia’s “wish list,” but political support would be necessary if the money was to be released.

As to the political support, the Gainsborough Line and Marks Tey are in a total of five constituencies; all of which are Conservative.

I suspect, Chris Grayling could be under severe pressure from this one.

Although you have to remember that to many civil servants in the Department of Transport, Suffolk is just an area, you pass through on the way to your weekend cottage in Norfolk.

 

 

August 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Greater Anglia Fit Batteries To Their Class 755 Trains?

Greater Anglia have ordered the following Class 755 trains.

  • 14 x three-car trains with two diesel engines in the power-pack
  • 24 x four-car trains with four diesel engines in the power-pack

The power-pack would appear to have four slots, each of which could take.

  • A V8 16-litre Deutz diesel that can produce 478 kW and weighs 1.3 tonnes.
  • A battery of about 120 kWh, which would probably weigh about 1.2 tonnes.

I estimated the battery size , by using typical battery energy densities for a battery of similar weight to the diesel engine.

The KeolisAmey Wales Tri-Mode Flirts

The Tri-Mode Flirts ordered by KeolisAmey Wales can use either electric, diesel or battery power.

From the pictures it appears that these trains have the same basic structure as the Class 755 trains.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the Stadler Tri-Mode Flirts on the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

So does this mean that these Flirts have just one Deutz diesel engine of 478 kW and three batteries in the four slots of the power-pack?

These trains will run between Penarth and Rhymney stations.

  • I estimate about half the route will be electrified.
  • Penarth to the electrification at Cardiff is under ten miles.
  • The trains will work on battery power from Ystrad Mynach to Rhymney, which is ten miles up the hill.
  • Coming down from Rhymney, Newton’s friend will give assistance.

This seems a challenging task, but it must be possible, even after an important rugby match in Cardiff.

I think it is true to say, that these Tri-Mode Flirts are no wimps.

Greater Anglia’s Flirts And Batteries

Four-Car Flirts

The four-car Class 755 trains don’t have a spare slot, as they have four engines.

I also suspect the four-car trains will tend to serve the longer routes or those with more passengers.

  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Stansted Airport and Norwich
  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Lowestoft and London via Ipswich
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth

Consider.

  • These routes are partially-electrified.
  • These routes don’t have challenging terrain.
  • Except for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, all end stations are electrified.
  • A short length of electrification could be installed at Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations.

I wonder if one of the diesel engines were to be replaced with a battery, by capturing and reusing the regenerative braking energy, this could improve the economics of running the services.

In Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, I estimated the following.

  • A four-car Tri-Mode Flirt will weigh around 150 tonnes.
  • I will assume 250 passengers at 90 Kg. each with all their baggage, which gives a weight of 22.5 tonnes.
  • This gives a total rain weight  of 172.5 tonnes.
  • The train is running at 100 mph.

This gives a kinetic energy of 48 kWh.

This would mean that a single 120 kWh battery could easily handle the regenerative braking and use the energy for the following purposes.

  • Hotel power, which includes the power to run passenger and train systems.
  • Traction power on sections, where low noise is important.
  • Traction power, if there is overhead electrification failure.
  • Short movements in depots and sidings.

I think that once Stadler have got their Tri-Mode Flirts working, that replacing one diesel with a battery in four-car Class 755 trains may be a sensible decision.

Lowestoft And London Via Ipswich

When the Class 755 trains are running services, there will be four direct trains per day from Lowestoft to London via Ipswich.

I will assume the following.

  • There will also be four trains in both directions.
  • An hourly service operates between Lowestoft and Ipswich
  • Lowestoft to Ipswich will take the current 90 minutes.
  • Greater Anglia will meet their promise of Ipswich to London in 60 minutes.
  • The first train currently leaves Lowestoft just after five in the morning.
  • The last train currently arrives at Lowestoft just before midnight.

For one train to do four round trips between five in the morning and midnight would need a round trip of around four hours and thirty minutes, which would mean that a time of around seventy minutes is needed between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

That is extraordinarily challenging.

But I think that could be Greater Anglia’s ultimate aim.

  • There must be savings of a minute or two at each of the nine stations between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
  • Some trains could be limited stop.
  • The current maximum speed on the East Suffolk Line is just 55 mph and could probably be increased in places.
  • The 100 mph Class 755 trains are quicker and probably accelerate and stop faster, than the current 75 mph Class 150 trains.
  • Trains turn at Liverpool Street in under five minutes.

If it can be done, then the four trains per day between Lowestoft and London can be run with just one train.

Would batteries help the achievement of this aim?

They might do! But they would certainly improve the electrical efficiency and cut the amount of running of the diesel engines.

Three-Car Flirts

The three-car Class 755 trains have two spare slots, as they have two engines.

I would expect that the three-car trains would be used on the shorter routes and those with less passengers.

  • Colchester Town and Sudbury
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • Norwich and Sheringham via Cromer

To my mind the first two routes stand out for battery operation.

Ipswich and Felixstowe

Consider the following about the service between Ipswich and Felixstowe stations.

  • The Felixstowe Branch is just over twelve miles long.
  • There is one train per hour (tph) each way.
  • It takes the current trains abut 26-29 minutes to do the journey.
  • Currently, one train can provide the service.

In The New Trimley Freight Loop And Trimley Station, I talk about how a 1.4 km loop is being built to allow more freight trains to use the branch.

I also feel that there could be a second path in each hour for passenger trains, which would help reliability

But it also might make it possible to run a two tph service with two trains.

I also think, that if it was felt worthwhile, that this route could be run on battery power, charging at Ipswich and possibly with a short length of electrification in Felixstowe.

The advantages would be

  • Diesel-free running.
  • Less noise.
  • The environmentally friendly trains may attract new passengers.

As with the trains on the South Wales Metro, they’d probably have one diesel engine and three large batteries.

Knowing the bicycle-friendly contours of the centre of Ipswich and Felixstowe as I do, the trains would probably need adequate capacity for bikes.

Colchester Town And Sudbury

I am sure that this new route between Colchester Town and Sudbury stations has been designed for a battery train.

Consider.

  • A direct run between Colchester Town and Sudbury would probably take 45 minutes.
  • Over half the route would be electrified.
  • The Gainsborough Line is just eleven miles long.
  • A silent battery train would be ideal for the rural route.

A Class 755 train could leave the Great Eastern Main Line at Marks Tey with full batteries, go both ways on the branch and then return to Colchester Town using the electrification.

Norwich And Sheringham Via Cromer

At thirty miles, the Bittern Line is probably too long for running totally on batteries.

But one battery handling regenerative braking would make the train more environmentally friendly.

Conclusion

Batteries would make the Class 755 trains more economical and environmentally-friendly to run, but with the exception of the Felixstowe and Sudbury branches, I suspect that the routes are too long for pure battery power.

I do believe that Greater Anglia knew about Stadler’s concept for fitting batteries on Class 755 trains before they ordered the trains.

As this opens up possibilities for the future and the ability to be more environmentally-friendly and fiscally efficient, I suspect it was a factor in their decision to buy the trains.

 

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July 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Water At Ipswich Station

I hope this is the shape of things to come.

Greater Anglia give more details on this page on their web site.

 

 

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Intelligent Bi-Mode Train

In the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Stadler Bi-Modes Taking Shape.

It gives a deep insight into the philosophy of how the trains was designed and how they operates.

Abbreviations Used

Low-Floor Design

This is said.

Both the BMUs and EMUs will have a low-floor design enabling level boarding at every passenger door, with retractable steps bridging the gap between the train and the platform edge.

How simple is that?

This picture show’s a Flirt in Italy.

Surely, every train should have level boarding!

Passive Provision For Digital Signalling

The cabling is already installed and rack space has been left.

Sensible!

But I suspect there will be a new train fleet delivered, in the next couple of years, where the trains are not future-proofed.

Drivers Helped Design The Cabs

Consultation was about both hardware and software.

Lots Of Cameras

This is said.

Extensive video surveillance and bodyside cameras will allow drivers to control the opening and closing of doors.

Surely, more cameras means better safety and security, so why are the RMT against these new trains?

Perhaps, RMT members didn’t get free trips to Switzerland?

Twelve-Car Trains Are Possible

This is said.

Up to three BMU sets can operate in multiple, allowing a 12-car formation to run should this ever be required.

Why would Greater Anglia need a twelve-car BMU?

Problems do occur and suppose one of the London-Norwich EMUs had a serious problem, that meant it would be in the workshop for several weeks.

During this time, three four-car BMUs could be run as a twelve-car formation to cover for the missing EMU.

  • Performance would be the same.
  • Both trains carry around 700 passengers.
  • The BMUs would be on electric power all the way.

The only disadvantage would be that the BMUs have no buffet and First Class seats.

In my regular travelling on the Great Eastern Main Line in the last thirty years, I have been involved in two incidents where all trains stopped because of weather or a derailment. If the track, electrification and trains are the best, then there will still be the occasional closure.

But a twelve-car BMU would still be able to use the alternative route via Cambridge!

Do Greater Anglia see the BMUs as a means of getting passengers to their destimation, in circumstances, which interrupt normal service?

They’ve obviously done their sums and is it cheaper to have a couple of BMUs spare to cover for problems, than have passengers wait until everything is fixed?

I think, t is more likely that eight-car trains will be used.

Could for instance two four-car trains start from Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds in the morning and then join at Ipswich for a fast run to London for commuters?

Or would eight-car trains be used on Cambridge-Ipswich and Cambridge-Norwich, when there are important football matches?

The BMU train lengths of three and four cars, would also allow train capacity to be geared to the route.

Will we see other train companies buying this type of flexible capacity?

Flexible Power Source

This is said.

Stadler says the bi-mode Flirts are EMUs with a power pack in between just to generate power, adding that the power pack can be removed later to create an EMU or the equipment in the power module exchanged for batteries or other power sources.

Stadler says this flexibility will be important in the train’s lifespan of between 30 to 35 years.

All End Cars Are The Same

Both the BMUs and EMUs have the same end cars.

Except for a switch box to change power source in the BMU.

The four-car BMUs have two extra cars, both of which have a pantograph, whereas the three-car BMUs have just a single extra car.

It has been said, that three-car trains can be converted to four-cars, by just adding another car.

This picture, clipped from Wikipedia, shows the layouts of both trains.

What does a design like this save in manufacture, operation, driver training and maintenance?

Environmentally-Friendly

It goes without saying that the trains comply with the latest emission and noise regulations.

Changing Power Source

This is said.

Drivers of BMUs will be able to switch between electric and diesel modes whilst on the move if agreement is reached with Network Rail.

As a Control Engineer by training, I would feel that if a BMU can’t switch between modes on the move, then it is a very poor design of BMU.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking is fitted and it works in diesel mode as well as electric, but it is not stored on the train in a battery and is just burned off in a brake-resistor, if it can’t be returned through the overhead line.

I would expect, that at some point in the future batteries will be added to the power module to capture and resuse this energy, which is now wasted.

Intelligent Engine Management

This is said.

When the output of all the engines is not required one or more can be shut down to save fuel, with the engine management system ensuring this is shared across all engines over a period of time to balance maintenance schedules.

Sensible.

But, I worked for ICI in the 1970s and some of the early computerised chemical plants used optimisations like this to improve efficiency!

Bicycle Spaces

East Anglian trains, especially those starting or finishing in Cambridge, carry a lot of bicycles.

All the BMUs have provision for six bicycles! Is that enough?

Conclusion

The Class 745 and Class 755 trains are an interesting dual-solution to the problem of East Anglia’s railways, which have a dual electric spine from London to Norwich and Cambridge and a plethora of connecting routes without wires.

Other franchises must be looking seriously at a similar solution.

It should also be noted that Stadler have delivered Flirt EMUs with a 125 mph operating speed to Norway and Sweden.

So could we see 125 mph BMUs operating on lines, like the Midland Main and West Coast Main Line?

It could be that the weight of the power module means that the 100 mph of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains is the maximum possible speed on diesel.

In which case could we see a Flirt with 125 mph on electric power and 100 mph on diesel?

 

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Trains Herald New Steam Age

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on nearly half of Page 4 of today’s Sunday Times.

When I saw the article with its large graphic showing the working of a hydrogen train, the train seemed rather familiar.

The leaning back front of the train with its two windows and the corrugated roof looked like a Class 321 train.

The large orange area on the roof is the hydrogen tank and the smaller one is the hydrogen fuel cell.

This is a paragraph from the article.

Alstom revealed this weekend that it planned to convert the Class 321 diesel trains, which date to 1988 and are used on the Greater Anglia network between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich. The units will be switched to other lines once converted to hydrogen power.

I suspect Mark Hookham, who wrote the article, has already been told by ninety percent of the train enthusiasts in this country, that Class 321 trains are electric multiple units.

This picture shows the first car of a Class 321 train in the sidings at Ipswich.

Note all the space, under the train, which would be an ideal place for the batteries and traction control, that are shown in that position, in pink, in the Sunday Times graphic.

But there are other reasons, why Class 321 trains may be ideal to convert to hydrogen power.

  • Although they are thirty years old, they are a modern train, which meet all the latest regulations.
  • They have a 100 mph operating speed on electricity.
  • They operate on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • There are a hundred and seventeen four-car trains.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing over a hundred Class 321 trains, with new Class 720 trains in the next two years.
  • A number of Greater Anglia’s trains have been upgraded to Class 321 Renatus. These trains are a substantial upgrade over the standard train..
  • Greater Anglia’s trains appear to be in good condition.
  • Designs have been tested to upgrade the traction motors and drive systems of the trains.

But most importantly, the trains are based on the Mark 3 coach, which gives the following advantages.

  • An excellent ride and superb brakes.
  • Bodies with a legendary strength and toughness.
  • There is a vast amount of knowledge in the UK rail industry, that enables the trains to be kept at peak performance.

I doubt, that you could find a better fleet of a hundred trains to convert to hydrogen power anywhere in the world.

The article says or indicates the following.

  • Hydrogen tanks will be mounted on the roof.
  • An Alstom spokesman is quoted as saying. “We have now started work on the development of a specific hydrogen train to launch the technology here in the UK.”
  • He also said that the trains would be super quiet, super smooth and much more accelerative. I assume that is compared to diesel.
  • Conversion will take place in fleets of up to 15 trains a time at Alstom’s factory in Widnes.
  • The first train could be ready by 2021.
  • Eventually, all Class 321 trains could be converted.
  • Initial routes could be on the Tees Valley Line and between Liverpool and Widnes.
  • Range on a tank of hydrogen will be 620 miles.
  • Top speed would be about 87 mph.

The article finishes with a quote from Alstom’s spokesman. “The initial capital costs of hydrogen trains were higher than diesel ones, but the “total life cost” of running them for 40 years was lower.”

I have my thoughts on various things said and not said in the article.

Alstom’s Widnes Factory

Alstom’s Widnes factory has just upgraded, Virgin Trains, fleet of Class 390 trains, so it does seem capable of handling heavy work on a number of trains at one time.

Train Certification

All trains have to be certified, as to being safe and compatible to run on the UK rail network.

Converting an existing train, must make this process a lot easier, especially as many of the hydrogen components and batteries have been used on trains in the EU.

The Proposed Routes

The routes named in the article are in the North East and North West of England, where hydrogen could be readily available from the petrochemical works, so fuelling the trains may not be a problem.

Power Supply

Class 321 trains were only built to work on lines with 25 KVAC overhead wires, but I suspect the parts exist to enable them to run on 750 VDC third-rail lines, if needed.

INEOS

INEOS is a very large multi-national petrochemical company, with a multi-billion pound turnover, which is sixty percent owned by Jim Ratcliffe, who has just been named the UK’s richest man.

So why would a company like that be involved in hydrogen-powered trains?

This news item from Reuters, is entitled AFC In Hydrogen Power Generation Deal With INEOS.

This is the first two paragraphs.

British budget fuel cell maker AFC Energy has signed a deal with British petrochemicals company INEOS to produce electricity using the hydrogen given off in chlorine manufacturing.

AFC said the project with INEOS ChlorVinyls would use surplus hydrogen from the chemical firm’s Runcorn facility in north-west England to supplement the plant’s energy needs.

I used to know the Runcorn plant well, when I worked there for ICI in the 1960s.

The hydrogen was produced when brine was electrolysed to produce chlorine.

So does Jim Ratcliffe, who is a qualified Chemical Engineer, see an opportunity to sell the by-product as train fuel to his neighbour; Alstom, on the other side of the Mersey?

Obviously, I don’t know what Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are thinking.

But consider.

  • The Sunday Times article says that the North West and the North East of England are two promising areas for hydrogen-powered trains.
  • INEOS has large petrochemical plants on the Mersey and Teeside.
  • I wonder how many plants owned by INEOS around the world have a surplus of hydrogen.
  • Alstom would probably like to sell hydrogen-powered trains everywhere.
  • A well-respected chemical engineer, once told me, that the only things that should go out of an integrated petrochemical plant is product that someone pays for, air and water.

As the other place in the UK, where INEOS have a large petrochemical plant is Grangemouth in Central Scotland, I wonder, if we’ll see hydrogen-powered trains North of the Border.

Availability of Hydrogen

This article on Process Engineering, which is entitled INEOS project reduces energy bill by £3m, starts with these three paragraphs.

INEOS Chlor is one of the major chlor-alkali and chlorine derivative producers in Europe. Its Runcorn site in north west England has two large chlorine plants: the original J Unit that uses a mercury cell electrolysis process route, and the more recently opened Genesis Membrane Chlorine Plant (MCP).

Continuous improvement of the manufacturing processes has taken the Runcorn site to a ’best in class’ cost base and environmental performance, and as part of this improvement programme the company wanted to minimise vented hydrogen and maximise the value of this resource at both plants.

Without a significant change in market demand for hydrogen, it was not possible to increase sales to existing customers. The only alternative was to increase the amount used as fuel to power on-site boilers, thereby reducing costs for purchased natural gas.

Burning the hydrogen in on-site boilers.obviously helps to reduce the energy bill, but surely, if the hydrogen could be sold to a local customer, that could be more profitable.

You certainly want to minimise the vented hydrogen!

A few days ago I wrote The Liverpool Manchester Hydrogen Clusters Project, which is a project to create a hydrogen network in the Liverpool Manchester area.

Surplus hydrogen from Runcorn and other placed would be piped around the area to augment the natural gas supply.

This network could supply Alstom’s new hydrogen-powered trains and INEOS have a new market for their surplus hydrogen.

I don’t know the petrochemical industry in the North East, but there are a lot of petrochemical plants and some are owned by INEOS.

Is there a surplus of hydrogen, that could profitably sold as fuel for Alstom’s hydrogen-powered trains. I don’t know!

And then there’s Grangemouth in Scotland! My Scottish agent in the Borderlands, used to work at the INEOS plant in Grangemouth and that had a hydrogen surplus.

Even, if we can’t pipe hydrogen to the various depots for the trains around the country, surely it can be transported by rail!

I think that we may be short of some things in this country, but hydrogen might not be one of them.

Given that Alstom have moved so quickly to start planning conversion of the Class 321 trains, they have probably identified sources of enough hydrogen to power the fleet, even if all are converted, as they hinted at in the Sunday Times article.

Eversholt Rail Group’s Involvement

All the trains are leased from the Eversholt Rail Group, who would probably like to see their assets continue to earn the best return possible.

A few days ago, I wrote Eversholt Joins Very Light Rail Consortium.

These two projects may be at both ends of the rail industry, but I believe, they show the willingness of Eversholt to invest in innovation, rather than allow an asset to drift towards the scrapyard.

The Class 321 Renatus

This page on their web site describes the Class 321 Renatus, which was an upgrade developed by Eversholt in conjunction with Greater Anglia, to improve the trains, whilst waiting for Greater Anglia’s new fleet to be delivered.

These are the listed improvements.

  • New air-conditioning and heating systems.
  • New, safer seating throughout
  • Larger vestibules for improved boarding and alighting
  • Wi-Fi enabled for passengers and operator
  • Improved space allocation for buggies, bicycles and luggage
  • Passenger power sockets throughout
  • New, energy efficient lighting
  • One PRM compliant toilet and a second controlled emission toilet on each unit
  • Complete renewal and remodelling of all interior surfaces.

It would be a better interior than most British Rail-era trains.

Comparison With The Class 769 Train

The proposed hydrogen-powered Class 321 train, will inevitably be compared with Porterbrook‘s Class 769 train, which is a bi-mode upgrade of the Class 319 train.

Looking at operating speed on electricity and alternative fuel we find.

  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on lines with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 769 train can also operate at 100 mph on lines with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • According to the Sunday Times article, the Class 321 Hydrogen train can operate at about 87 mph on hydrogen.
  • According to this article in Rail Magazine, the Class 769 train can operate at 91-92 mph on diesel.

So in terms of operating speed, the trains are more of less comparable, but emissions will be better with the hydrogen-powered train.

When it comes to interiors, as both trains are Mark 3-based, designed around the same time, train operating companies will have what their budget allows.

In the end the choice will come down to cost, which will surely be higher for the Class 321 Hydrogen, as this will require more expensive modifications and additional infrastructure for refuelling the train.

Could Any Other Trains Be Converted?

There are various other classes of electric multiple unit based on the Mark 3 coach.

I think there could be good reasons to only convert trains with the following characteristics.

  • Four-cars or more.
  • 100 mph capability
  • Perhaps fifty or more trains to convert.

These rules would leave us with only the seventy-two Class 317 trains, many of which have been refurbished and are in very good condition.

Conclusion

I’m drawn to the conclusion, that Alstom and Eversholt are serious about producing hydrogen-powered trains for the UK.

I also think, they’ve identified enough hydrogen to power the whole fleet, if it’s converted.

 

 

May 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains Seem To Have Bags Of Grunt

This article on Rail Magazine, is entitled IN PICTURES: Greater Anglia Unveils First New Stadler Bi-Mode Train In Switzerland.

The text with the excellent and numerous pictures is informative, with other details of the Class 755 trains.

Dynamic Testing

This starts in July and involves.

  • Sixteen trains.
  • Eight teams.
  • Seven locations across Europe including the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Romania and Switzerland.

No-one can say that Stadler are not being thorough.

Entry Into Service

The bi-modes will enter service in Summer 2019, when Greater Anglia hope to have twenty trains in service.

The first Class 755 train will be delivered to Norwich Crown Point depot in October.

Articulated Trains

The trains are articulated and the article has a good image of two carriages showing the join.

Power Car And Car Lengths

The article says that the engines will be located in a power car. There is also an image looking through the power car.

I’m still unsure, whether the length of the train, includes the power car!

There are two versions.

  • Three-car Class 755/3 trains.
  • Four-car Class 755/4 trains.

This clipped image from Wikipedia shows the train formats.

It looks like the four-car Class 755/4 trains, a three-car train with an extra passenger car.

The Class 755/4 train would appear to consist of the following

  • Two full-length drive cars, with passenger accommodation.
  • A half-length power car.
  • Two  full-length passenger car.

The three-car Class 755/3 car train would not have the extra full-length passenger car.

So in terms of full-length passenger cars, train lengths could be as follows

  • Class 755/3 trains – 3 cars
  • Class 755/4 trains – 4 cars

Wikipedia says that each train has the following number of seats

  • Class 755/3 trains – 166 seats
  • Class 755/4 trains – 224 seats

Calculating the seats per car, gives the following.

  • Class 755/3 trains – 55.3 seats/car.
  • Class 755/4 trains – 56 seats/car.

This suggests to me, that the interior of a passenger car is very similar to that of a driver car, which must mean manufacturing cost savings.

Diesel Engines

Both trains are fitted with  16 litre V8 engines supplied by Deutz which produce 478 kW.

The power cars have the following numbers of engines

  • Class 755/3 trains – 2 engines – 956 kW – 319 kW per car
  • Class 755/4 trains – 4 engines – 1912 kW – 478 kW per car.

I suspect that a fifth car could be added to a Class 755 train. This would have 1912 kW and 382 kW per car.

Add a sixth car and this would have 1912 kW and 319 kW per car.

Comparison With A Class 170 Train

Compare these figures with a diesel Class 170 train, which has 315 kW per car.

Both trains are 100 mph trains, built from aluminium, so I suspect that the performance of three-car Class 755/3 and Class 170 trains are roughly the same.

But the four-car Class 755/4 trains have fifty percent more power per car, than the Class 170 train, so these will be no sedate rural trundlers.

Looking at the power figures for five-car and six-car units, they would still have at least as much power per car as a Class 170 train.

Other Possible Routes For Class 755 Trains

Could Class 755 trains be a replacement for routes like the following?

  •  Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury
  • Basingstoke to Exeter – Stadler are doing third-rail in Liverpool
  • Birmingham to Stansted Airport
  • Cardiff to Holyhead
  • Cardiff to Shrewsbury
  • Holyhead to Liverpool via Halton Curve
  • Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Liverpool to Norwich
  • Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Swansea to Shrewsbury

Trains could be any suitable length from three to six cars.

Note that electric FLIRTs can attain 125 mph, so could we see a train with the following characteristics?

  • 125 mph on electrified lines, where operating speeds allow.
  • 100 mph on lines with no electrification.

This performance is not far off Hitachi’s Class 802 train.

The other major competition could be Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra, that I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

The winners will be the train operating companies and their passengers.

A Video

Greater Anglia have put a video on YouTube.

Conclusion

The Class 755 trains certainly seem to have bags of grunt!

May 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

No ‘Ironing Board seats’ For Greater Anglia’s New Trains

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

The proof will be in the sitting, but the article encourages me, that comfort will be better than some recent new trains.

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments