The Anonymous Widower

Hitachi’s Thoughts On Battery Trains

On page 79 of the January 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, Nick Hughes, who is the Sales Director of Hitachi Rail Europe outlines how the manufacturer is embracing the development of battery technology.

He is remarkably open.

Hitachi’s Battery Development

Nick Hughes says this.

Hitachi has for many years seen great potential in battery technology.

We began studying on train storage energy systems in 2003. Working jointly qith operational partners in Japan and in the UK, we developed a realistic solution based on a lithium-ion battery, that could store the braking energy and reuse it for the traction.

Then came our V-train 2 (nicknamed the Hayabusa), which was tested on the Great Central Railway in 2007, using hybrid battery/diesel power and regenerative charging. This was the world’s first high-speed hybrid train.

This picture show the Hayabusa running in the UK.

If you think it looks familiar, you are right! It’s a modified Class 43 locomotive from an InterCity 125. The locomotive; 43089, is still in service with East Midlands Trains. But without the batteries!

When the remaining members of the  team, who had developed the InterCity 125 in the 1970s, saw these pictures, I suspect it was celebrated with a call for a few swift halves!

BEMU In Japan

Nick Hughes goes on to outline the status of Battery Electric Multiple Units (BEMUs) in Japan, where Hitachi launched a train called the DENCHA  in 2016, on the Chikuhi line.

  • The train has a range of up to 50 km on batteries.
  • DENCHA is popular with passengers.
  • The train won a prestigious award.

I don’t know what it is with battery trains, but the Bombardier/Network Rail BEMU Trial was also liked by those who rode the train. As was I!

Nick Hughes Prediction

Nick Hughes follows his description of the DENCHA, with this.

I can picture a future when these sorts of trains are carrying out similar types of journeys in the UK, perhaps by installing battery technology in our Class 395s to connect to Hastings via the non-electrified Marshlink Line from Ashford for example.

This would massively slice the journey time and heklp overcome the issue of electrification and infrastructure cases not stacking up. There are a large number of similar routes like this all across the country.

It is a prediction, with which I could agree.

Renewable Energy And Automotive Systems

Nick Hughes finishied by saying that he believes storing power from renewable energy and the development of automotive systems will drive battery technology and its use.

Conclusion

It is the most positive article about battery trains, that I have read so far!

December 21, 2017 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed To Hastings

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about running Southeastern Highspeed services to Hastings.

In Options For High Speed To Hastings, I laid out the four possibilities of giving Hastings station a fast service in around a projected seventy minutes to St. Pancras.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 electro-diesel trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 trains with batteries

I discounted the first two and the current Modern Railways article discounts the third, as there might be problems with diesel tanks in the tunnels under London.

So it looks like, it will be up to the engineers at Hitachi to come up with a train with enough battery power to go between Ashford International and Ore stations.

The article also says that there will be one train per hour (tph)  between London and Ashford, which will split and join automatically at Ashford, with one six-car section going to Hastings and the other reinforcing services to Dover.

I discuss the track layout changes needed at Ashford International in Track Improvements.

Onward To Eastbourne And Brighton

Some early reports about running Highspeed services to Hastings, also talked about running a better service along the South Coast to Eastbourne and possibly Brighton.

The Class 395 trains could turn-back further to the West, but this would require more expensive new Class 395 trains.

On the other hand, there are some 100 mph modern electric multiple units  like the Class 377 trains, that could provide a quality service from Hastings to Brighton. I also think it would be possible to arrange a cross-platform interchange at Hastings.

This would also get round the problem of the relationship between the two franchises, who each run one service.

I estimate that based on the seventy minutes Hastings to London time, I’ve read in various sources, the following times would be possible.

  • Eastbourne to St. Pancras – One hour and forty-one minutes.
  • Brighton to St. Pancras – Two hours and twenty-eight minutes.

These compare with a current Eastbourne to Victoria time of one hour and twenty-seven minutes.

Conclusion

This will happen, otherwise Amber Rudd will have someone’s guts for garters.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

June 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 18 Comments

Rail Improvements Between Hastings and London

With four bids to run the new Southeastern franchise, in a few months we will be able to see a bit clearly what will happen to the train service between Hastings and London. The two latest franchises to be awarded in East Anglia and South West London etc. have both gone to companies willing to spend almost a billion pounds on new trains, which will bring more services and seats, wi-fi and 4G to the resp3ctive framchise areas. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new incumbent spends a similar amount and Network Rail chips in a couple of hundred million to make sure that passengers see a real benefit.

As far as Hastings is concerned, we could see the following.

  1. A faster service to Ashford.
  2. St. Pancras in 70 minutes.
  3. A fast service from Brighton to Hastings.
  4. A rail by-pass through an Eastbourne Parkway station.

We might even see a Brighton to St. Pancras srvice via Hastings, Ashford, Ebbsfleet and Stratford.

In the medium term the following could happen.

  1. A link to Crossrail at Ebbsfleet.
  2. A link to Cambridge/Stansted services at Stratford of only a few metres.
  3. A South Coast Express from Bournemouth to Ashford.

Who knows where companies spening a billion pounds on infrastructure and trains will go.

Anber Rudd is the key, as she sits like the Queen Bee in the middle.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

Options For High Speed To Hastings

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

Before I list the options, I’ll list a few facts and questions about the current service to Hastings, the various lines and stations.

Ashford International Station

This Google Map shows Ashford International station.

Note the Marshlink Line goes off the map to the East of the two small roundabouts at the bottom.

The biggest factor that needs to be considered is that some form flyover or dive-under may be needed so that trains can run between the Marshlink Line and the two platforms on the North side of the station, where Highspeed services to and from St. Pancras International call.

Will All Highspeed Services Using The Marshlink Line Stop At Ashford International Station?

Consider the following.

  • Passengers might like to go between places on the South Coast, like Hastings and Brighton, and Europe, by changing at Ashford International station
  • If a voltage change were needed, Ashford International station is already used for this purpose.

I would think it unlikely that services would not stop at Ashford International station.

Class 395 and Class 80x Trains

The Class 395 trains and the various forms of Class 800 trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

The Class 395 trains have the following features.

  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on DC Lines
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling.

The Class 800 and Class 802 trains have the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • 25 KVAC only.
  • 5- and 9-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1 (Stated in Modern Railways)
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling (assumed)

The only difference between Class 800 and Class 802 appears to be the size of the full tanks and manufacturing site.

I would think it unlikely, that Hitachi could not produce a Class 80x train with the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • 100 mph on DC Lines

The trains could even have a Class 395 style interior.

Looking at the Class 395 and Class 80x trains, I suspect that these trains could be built, so that they could automatically couple and uncouple with each other.

This coupling ability would be important.

  • Hastings and Thanet services could couple and uncouple at Ashford International.
  • Class 80x trains could be used instead of Class 395 trains for operational reasons.
  • It would make it easier to rescue a stalled train.

There is also this document on the IEP Trains web site, which is entitled Technical & Build Specifications Of The IEP Trains, contains a lot of useful information.

  • Five-car electro-diesel trains have three power units.
  • Nine-car electro-diesel trains have five power units.
  • Electric trains have a small generator that can be used to slowly move a train stranded by overhead power failure to a safe place for passengers to disembark.

Nothing is said about batteries, but Hitachi have run battery trains in Japan.

I would be very surprised, if the A-train family was not designed, so that it could incorporate batteries, when the technology has been sufficiently developed

The Current London  To Hastings Timings

Fastest timings I can find are as follows.

  • London Cannon Street to Hastings – 1 hour 48 minutes
  • London Charing Cross to Hastings – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • London St. Pancras to Hastings – 1 hour 36 minutes, which a change at Ashford International
  • London Victoria – 2 hours 1 minute.

I think the surprising time is the one with a change at Ashford International.

It takes 37 minutes between St. Pancras and Ashford International and 40 minutes from Ashford International to Hastings, but passengers are allowed nineteen minutes to change trains.

Could Timings On The Marshlink Line Be Improved?

The Marshlink Line has a maximum operating speed of just 60 mph, whereas the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton has an oiperating speed of 90 mph.

Other improvements are needed to improve the timings and oiperation of the line.

  • Removal of a couple of level crossings.
  • Provision of a passing loop at Rye.
  • Some platform lengthening to handle the longest trains that would use the line.

It doesn’t appear impossible to reduce St. Pancras to Hasting timings by several minutes.

Are More Class 395 Trains Needed For Other Routes?

I ask this question, as if they are, then surely a combined order for new trains  would be better value.

The Various Options

I shall now look at the various options mentioned in the article in turn.

Option 1 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC

This would cost between £250million and £500million.

It would allow the current Class 395 trains to work through to Hastings and as far as Brighton or even Southampton if required.

Voltage changeover would take place at a convenient station, such as Ore.

But how would various groups react to 25 KVAC catenary being strung up all over Romney Marsh?

Option 2 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC

This would cost between £100million and £250million.

As with Option 1, it could use the current Class 395 trains.

Option 3 – Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains

Class 802 trains could be an interesting option.

Consider.

  • According to the Modern Railways article, Class 802 trains would have the same 140 mph performance, as the Class 395 trains on HS1.
  • Both trains are Hitachi A trains.
  • Class 802 trains would run on diesel between Ashford International and Hastings.
  • Class 802 trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service to Hastings.
  • A crude estimate gives that one six-car Class 802 train would cost around £12.5million.

I think this option has a big advantage in that if it were possible to run twelve-car trains from St. Pancras to Brighton via Eastbourne, Hastings, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International stations, the route might offer valuable alternative routes.

Option 4 – Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

Either of Class 395 or Class 801 trains could probably be fitted with batteries with sufficient range to take the train between Ashford and Hastings.

Consider.

  • Both trains would have 140 mph performance on HS1.
  • Trains would run on batteries between Ashford International and Ore.
  • The Marshlink Line is not the most taxing of railways, with only six stops.
  • Trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • To ensure sufficient battery power to bridge Hastings to Ashford, trains could if necessary reverse at Seaford or Brighton.

As with Option 3, it has the advantage of providing an alternative London to Brighton service.

Conclusions

All options require the following to be done.

  • Create an efficient connection between HS1 and the Marshlink Line.
  • Improve the operating speed on the Marshlink Line.
  • Remove a couple of level crossings on the Marshlink Line.
  • Create a passing loop at Rye.
  • Perform some platform lengthening.

As Options 1 and 2 require electrification and cost more, I would feel they are unlikely to proceed.

The choice between Options 3 and 4 would depend on what Hitachi offer and what the required number of trains cost.

Option 3 based on a Class 802 train would definitely work and could probably be proven with a test run of one of the GWR or VTEC Class 800 prototypes.

But these Class 800/801/802 trains are designed so that the diesel engines can be removed, when they are no longer needed. So could Hitachi replace the diesel engine with a battery pack charged at either end of the route on the 25 KVAC of HS1 or the 750 VDC of the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton.

It’s all about selling trains and a company that had a 140 mph or 225 kph high-speed electric train, that could do perhaps 25 miles or 40 kilometres on batteries, would have a valuable addition to their product range.

 

 

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Class 319 Flex Train And Third Rail Routes

In writing The Electrical System Of A Class 319 Flex, I came to the conclusion, that the designers of the Class 319 Flex had taken great care that the train would perform to a high standard on lines with third-rail electrification..

There are three routes that could be given an improved service using a third-rail bi-mode train.

Ashford to Brighton on the Marshlink Line.

Oxted to Uckfield on the Oxted Line.

Reading to Tonbridge via Gatwick Airport on the North Downs Line.

Note.

  1. From Ashford, trains on the Marshlink Line could go to London, but probably not on High Speed 1.
  2. The East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton can accept eight-car trains, and is a 90 mph line, that has recently been resignalled.
  3. From Oxted on the Oxted Line trains could go to London.
  4. The Uckfield Branch has been updated to accept twelve-car trains.
  5. Tonbridge to Gatwick Airport was electrified as a Eurostar diversion route.

For operational reasons on the Uckfield Branch and along the South Coast, it would probably be a good idea, if the ability to run as eight- and twelve car formations was developed for the Class 319 Flex.

The South Coast Express

The East Coastway Line could be connected to the West Coastway Line to Southampton Central station with a reverse at Brighton.

At present because the Marshlink Line is not electrified and the two Coastway Lines are run independently, you can’t travel between stations on the West Coastway Line to any station on the East Coastway Line without changing trains at Brighton.

Consider creating a South Coast Express between Ashford and Southampton using bi-mode trains.

  • The Class 800 train, which is the only current bi-mode train, comes as a five-car train, but doesn’t have a dual voltage version, although its cousin the Class 395 train can work on third rail networks.
  • The Class 319 Flex train could do the whole route and would only need to use diesel power for twenty-six miles.
  • The speed limit along the two Coastway Lines could probably be upgraded to 100 mph.
  • A new Eastbourne Parkway station could be created on a reopened direct line between Polegate and Pevensey & Westham stations, to avoid all trains reversing at the current Eastbourne station and hence save time.
  • It would be a feeder railway to Thameslink services at Brighton and Eurostar services at Ashford.
  • Eight-car or even twelve-car formations could work through Falmer station on match days at The Amex.
  • Southampton have plans to develop the railway to serve St. Mary’s Stadium and the Waterfront, which could be part of an upgraded West Coastway Line.

Currently, with a change at Brighton, Southampton to Ashford takes three hours forty-seven minutes. With a 100 mph train on an updated 100 mph line, the service could surely be a lot faster.

If an hourly service was required, then you get this table of trains required to run the service against  the journey time between Ashford and Southampton.

  • Three hours needs six trains.
  • Two and a half hours needs five trains.
  • Two hours needs four trains.

Southern use more trains than that now to provide a slower service, with a change at Brighton.

West Of Basingstoke

The West of England Main Line is only electrified as far as Basingstoke station, which is just under fifty miles from London.

Distances from Basingtoke are approximately.

Could a Class 319 Flex carry enough fuel to serve this route?

I have seen an early copy of the brochure for a Class 319 Flex and Porterbook say that the train is designed to handle ten round trips from Hazel Grove to Buxton, which is a seventeen mile trip, where the steep gradients up are probably balanced by the coming down.

This would indicate that the Class 319 Flex could do a round trip without refuelling.

The route is currently worked by eleven two-car Class 158 trains and thirty three-car Class 159 trains and they take three and a half-hours for each hourly service between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.

The Class 319 Flex train has a comparable speed to the Class 158/159 trains on diesel and is ten mph faster, when running on electricity.

I don’t think that the trains would be used all the way to Exeter, as they are not really designed for a journey of that length, but there may be other places where they could be ideal.

  • Running between London Waterloo and Salisbury to increase the frequency, where they might save upwards of fifteen minutes between Basingstoke and Waterloo, as they are faster than the diesel Class 158/159s.
  • Running the hourly circular service from Salisbury to Chandlers Ford via Southampton, which has sections of electrified line, where they could replace Class 158/159s.
  • Existing lines like the Lymington Branch, where they could replace Class 158/159s
  •  Reopened lines like the Fawley Branch,  Ludgershall Branch and the Swanage Railway.
  • New services like Portsmouth Harbour to Salisbury via Southampton and Romsey.

It could be that some selective electrification like Southampton to Romsey could be very beneficial.

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From St. Leonard’s To Hastings

I walked along the sea-front in the sun to Hastings.

It was colder than it looked and I was pleased, I had got a lot of layers on.

I finished my walk, in the cafe at the surprisingly large Marks and Spencer, which was just a short walk from the station.

About fifteen years ago, I went to Hastings and was distinctly unimpressed. It has certainly improved and it was a good walk along the front.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment