The Anonymous Widower

Roger Ford On Bombardier’s Aventra Problems

It has been well-publicised that Bombardier are having problems getting their new Class 710 trains working reliably for service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

In the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article written by the well-respected Roger Ford, which is entitled Train Makers Face ‘Year Of Truth’.

Roger makes a succession of important points about Bombardier and Aventras in particular.

Class 345 Trains

Roger says this.

While reliability continues to be poor, software issues have been largely down to signalling interfaces at the western end of Crossrail.

Production appears to have been paused at 57, with perhaps 37 accepted.

Class 345 Trains And Class 710 Trains Use Different Software

Roger says this.

For the Class 345s, Transport for London specified an evolution of the Class 378 ‘last generation’ software. However the units for London Overground and Greater Anglia, and the other Aventra contracts for delivery beyond 2019, are true next generation trains with a new ‘family tree’ of software.

So it would appear that Class 345 and Class 710 software problems could be unrelated!

My experience of putting together large complicated software systems over forty years, leads me to add these two statements.

  • If the base hardware has been thoroughly tested and put together in a professional manner, it will be very rare for the software to not work on one set of hardware and work perfectly on several dozen other sets.
  • You can’t do too much testing; both of the hardware and the software, both on test systems and in real-life scenarios.

I don’t know anything of the computer hardware structure and its connectivity on Aventras, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot has been lifted straight out of the aerospace industry, in which Bombardier has a substantial presence. Borrowing proven techniques and hardware will hopefully reduce the risk.

The major risk will be the software that is totally new and unique to the Aventra.

So to me, it is not surprising that the complicated signalling on Crossrail, has been the major trouble on the Class 345 trains.

In this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, this is a paragraph.

London Overground was due to put new Bombardier Class 710 electric multiple units into traffic on the route from March 2018, with a full rollout by May. However, problems with the Train Control Management System (TCMS) has so far prevented this.

I suspect that the TCMS is totally new and unique and has a level of complexity much higher than what is used in the Class 345 train.

  • It will have the ability to test all the trains sub-systems on a continuous basis.
  • The TCMS  will be an important part of the train testing process, which is why I have listed it first.
  • The TCMS will control 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail power collection.
  • It will control the energy storage, that is reputedly fitted to the train.
  • It will handle regenerative braking using the energy storage.
  • Electricity usage will be optimised.
  • It will control all the displays and systems throughout the train.
  • It will interface to the signalling system.
  • It will communicate train status and faults back to the depot.

I also suspect that every Aventra will have the same TCMS, which will probably be compatible with the proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

This is not a new concept, as in the 1980s, Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft had identical cockpits, flight control systems and a common rating for pilots.

The Aventra has been described as a computer-on-wheels. Could it also be described as an aircraft-on-rails?

When I was growing up, all new trains, aircraft and vehicles were generally fully described with detailed cutaway drawing in a comic called Eagle.

Bombardier have seemed to be very reluctant to give details about what lies under the skin of an Aventra. Could it be very different to all other trains?

There is one big disadvantage about having a common TCMS, in that, it requires a very high quality of software design, programming and testing and that any lateness in the software delays the whole project.

Class 710 Trains For The Gospel Oak To Barking

Roger says this about the delayed Class 710 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

According to,Bombardier, delivery of the Class 710 fleet is now due to be completed by the end of 2019. Given that the original date was September 2018, this is 15 months late. But with large numbers of Class 710 vehicles in storage, it also seems unduly pessimistic.

Roger does not have a reputation for looking on the bright side of life, so when he says that the schedule is unduly pessimistic, I give that a high chance of being right.

Surely, when the final approved version of the TCMS software is delivered, all of those trains in storage can be woken up, tested by the TCMS software then go through a pre-delivery check with the appropriate level of trouble-free running.

It’s a bit like having a new PC on your desk. You can’t really use it, until the software you need to do your job is installed. But as the software will be designed for your PC and has already been fully tested, it is unlikely to be a traumatic operation.

It appears to me, that the more comprehensive the TCMS software, the quicker it will be to take a train from manufacture to ready for service.

Class 720 Trains For Greater Anglia

Bombardier are already building the Class 720 trains for Greater Anglia.

Are these just being checked and tested before being put into store?

As with the Class 710 trains, will they be woken up using the same final fully tested version of the TCMS software?

I would be very surprised if the software on the two trains used different versions of the software.

When I was writing Artemis, we had two versions; one for single users and another for multiple users.

The software for both was identical and it worked on two different operating systems.

That is one of the advantages you get with well-written software.

Hence my belief that all Aventras have a common TCMS software.

Building Aventras

The article says that Bombardier are gearing up to have six Aventra production lines in Derby, which would mean they can turn out 24 vehicles a week.

That is a high production rate, which would mean that the 222 vehicles for the London Overground could be built in under ten weeks.

Bombardier must be expecting a lot of orders!

 

 

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could A 125 Mph Electric Train With Batteries Handle The Midland Main Line?

In Bombardier’s 125 Mph Electric Train With Batteries, I investigated a pure electric train based on Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries.

It would have the following characteristics.

  • Electric power on both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Appropriately-sized batteries.
  • 125 mph running, where possible on electrification and/or battery power.
  • Regenerative braking using the batteries.
  • Low energy interiors and systems.

It would be a train with efficiency levels higher than any train seen before.

It would also be zero-carbon at the point of delivery.

An Example 125 mph Train

I will use the same size and specification of train, that I used in Bombardier’s 125 Mph Electric Train With Batteries.

  • The train is five cars, with say four motored cars.
  • The empty train weighs close to 180 tonnes.
  • There are 430 passengers, with an average weight of 90 Kg each, with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a total train weight of 218.7 tonnes.
  • The train is travelling at 200 kph or 125 mph.

Travelling at 200 kph, the train has an energy of 94.9 kWh.

I will also assume.

  • The train uses 15 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is eighty percent efficient.

I will now do a few calculations.

Kettering To Leicester

Suppose one of the proposed trains was running between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • I’m assuming there are no stops.
  • In a year or two, it should be able to run as far as Kettering using the new and improved 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The train would leave the electrification at Kettering with a full charge in the batteries.
  • The train would also pass Kettering as close to the line speed as possible.
  • Hopefully, the twenty-nine miles without electrification between Kettering and Leicester will have been updated to have the highest possible line speed, with many sections capable of supporting 125 mph running.

I can do a rough-and-ready calculation, as to how much energy has been expended between Kettering and Leicester.

  • Twenty-nine miles at 15 kWh per mile is 435 kWh.
  • The train has a kinetic energy of 94.9 kWh at 125 mph and twenty percent will be lost in stopping at Leicester, which is 19 kWh.

This means that a battery of at least 454 kWh will be needed to propel the train to Leicester.

Kettering To Sheffield

If the train went all the way without stopping between Kettering and Sheffield, the energy used would be much higher.

One hundred-and-one miles at 15 kWh is 1515 kWh.

So given that the train will be slowing and accelerating, we’re probably talking of a battery capacity of around 2000 kWh.

In our five-car example train, this is 400 kWh per car.

Kettering To Sheffield With Stops

The previous calculation shows what can be achieved, but we need a practical train service.

When I last went to Sheffield, the train stopped at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.

I have built an Excel spreadsheet, that models this route and it shows that if the train has a battery capacity of 2,000 kWh, the train will get to Sheffield with 371 kWh left in the battery.

  • Increase the efficiency of the regenerative braking and the energy left is 425 kWh.
  • Reduce the train’s energy consumption to 12 kWh per mile and the energy left is 674 kWh.
  • Do both and the energy left is 728 kWh.

The message is clear; train manufacturers and their suppliers should use all efforts to improve the efficiencies of trains and all of their components.

  • Aerodynamics
  • \Weight savings
  • Bogie dynamics
  • Traction motors
  • Battery capacity and energy density
  • Low energy lighting and air-conditioning

No idea however wacky should be discarded.

Network Rail also has a part to play.

  • The track should have as a high a line speed as is practical.
  • Signalling and timetabling should be designed to minimise interactions with other services.

Adding all these together, I believe that in a few years, we could see a train, that will consume 10 kWh per mile and have a regenerative braking efficiency of ninety-five percent.

If this can be achieved then the train will have 960 kWh in the batteries when it arrives in Sheffield.

Sheffield To Kettering

There is no helpful stretch of electrification at the Sheffield end of the route, so I will assume that there is a method of charging the batteries at Sheffield.

Unsurprisingly, as the train is running the same total distance and making the same number of stops, if the train starts with a full battery at Sheffield, it arrives at Kettering with the same amount of energy in the battery, as on the Northbound-run to Sheffield.

An Interim Conclusion

I am led to the interim conclusion, that given the continued upward curve of technology and engineering, that it will be possible to run 125 mph electric trains with an appropriately-sized battery.

How Much Battery Capacity Can Be Installed In A Train?

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Scotland High Among Vivarail’s Targets for Class 230 D-Trains, where this is said.

Vivarail’s two-car battery units contains four 100 kWh lithium-ion battery rafts, each weighing 1.2 tonnes.

Consider.

  • Vivarail’s cars are 18.37 metres long.
  • Car length in a typical Aventra, like a Class 720 train, is 24 metres.
  • Aventras have been designed for batteries and supercapacitors, whereas the D78 trains, used as a base for the Class 230 train,were not.
  • Batteries and supercapacitors are getting better all the time.
  • Batteries and supercapacitors can probably be built to fit in unusually-shaped spaces.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aventras being able to take double the capacity of a Class 230 train under each car.

I wouldn’t rule out 2,000 kWh energy storage capacity on a five-car train, that was designed for batteries.

The actual size installed would depend on operator, weight, performance and cost.

My Excel spreadsheet shows that for reliable operation between Kettering and Sheffield, a battery of at least 1200 kWh is needed, with a very efficient train.

Charging Trains En-Route

I covered en-route charging fully in Charging Battery/Electric Trains En-Route.

I came to this conclusion.

I believe it is possible to design a charging system using proven third-rail technology and batteries or supercapacitors to transfer at least 200 kWh into a train’s batteries at each stop.

This means that a substantial top up can be given to the train’s batteries at stations equipped with a fast charging system.

An Astonishing Set Of Results

I use astonishing lightly, but I am very surprised.

I assumed the following.

  • The train uses 15 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is eighty percent efficient.
  • The train is fitted with 600 kWh of energy storage.
  • At each of the six stations up to 200 kWh of energy can be transferred to the train.

Going North the train arrives in Sheffield with 171 kWh in the energy storage.

Going South the train arrives at Kettering with 61 kWh in the energy storage.

Probably a bit tight for safety, but surprising nevertheless.

I then tried with the following.

  • The train uses 12 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is ninety percent efficient.
  • The train is fitted with 500 kWh of energy storage.
  • At each of the six stations up to 200 kWh of energy can be transferred to the train.

Going North the train arrives in Sheffield with 258 kWh in the energy storage.

Going South the train arrives at Kettering with 114 kWh in the energy storage.

It would appear that increasing the efficiency of the train gives a lot of the improvement.

Finally, I put everything, at what I feel are the most efficient settings.

  • The train uses 10 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is ninety-five percent efficient.
  • The train is fitted with 500 kWh of energy storage.
  • At each of the six stations up to 200 kWh of energy can be transferred to the train.

Going North the train arrives in Sheffield with 325 kWh in the energy storage.

Going South the train arrives at Kettering with 210 kWh in the energy storage.

These sets of figures prove to me, that it is possible to design a 125 mph battery/electric hybrid train and a set of charging stations, that will make St. Pancras to Sheffield by electric train, a viable possibility without any more electrification.

Should The Train Be Fitted With A Means Of Charging The Batteries?

Why not?

Wires do go down and rest assured, a couple of battery/electric hybrids would get stuck!

So a small diesel or hydrogen generator to allow a train to limp a few miles might not be a bad idea.

Electrification Between Sheffield And Clay Cross On The Midland Main Line

In The UK’s New High Speed Line Being Built By Stealth, there is a sub-section with the same title as this sub-section.

This is the first part of that sub-section.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Grayling Asks HS2 To Prepare For Electrification Of 25km Midland Main Line Route.

If this electrification happens on the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and Clay Cross, it will be another project in turning the line into a high speed route with a 200 kph operating speed, between London and Sheffield.

Currently, the electrified section of the line South of Bedford is being upgraded and the electrification and quadruple tracks are being extended to Glendon Junction, where the branch to Corby leaves the main line.

The proposed electrification will probably involve the following.

  • Upgrading the line to a higher speed of perhaps 225 kph, with provision to increase the speed of the line further.
  • Rebuilding of Chesterfield station in readiness for High Speed Two.
  • Full electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross.

Clay Cross is significant, as it is where the Midland Main Line splits into two Southbound routes.

Note.

  1. Some of the tunnel portals in the Derwent Valley are Listed.
  2. Trying to electrify the line through the World Heritage Site will be a legal and engineering nightmare.
  3. Network Rail has spent or is spending £250million on upgrading the Erewash Valley Line.
  4. High Speed Two will reach The East Midlands Hub station in 2032.

When High Speed Two, is extended North from the East Midlands Hub station, it will take a route roughly following the M1. A spur will link High Speed Two to the Erewash Valley line in the Clay Cross area, to enable services to Chesterfield and Sheffield.

But until High Speed Two is built North of the East Midlands Hub station, the Erewash Valley Line looks from my helicopter to be capable of supporting 200 kph services.

If this electrification is performed, it will transform the prospects for battery/electric hybrid trains between London and Sheffield.

  • Trains will have to run fifteen miles less on battery power.
  • Trains will arrive in both St. Pancras and Sheffield with batteries that are at least three-quarters full.
  • Returning the trains will fill them up on the electrification at the end of the line.
  • There will probably not be a need for charging systems at St. Pancras, Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I also think, that as the train could arrive in Sheffield with a full battery, there is the possibility of extending services past Sheffield to Barnsley, Huddersfield and cLeeds, if the operator felt it was a worthwhile service.

Nottingham

Nottingham is just eight miles from East Midlands Parkway station, which is less distance than Derby.

So if the battery/electric hybrid trains can reach Derby from Kettering on Battery power, with some help from charging at Leicester and Loughborough, the trains can reach Nottingham, where charging would be installed.

Conclusion

From my calculations, I’m sure that an efficient battery/electric hybrid train can handle all current services on the Midland Main Line, with third-rail charging at intermediate stations.

I do think though, that if Sheffield to Clay Cross Junction is electrified in preparation for High Speed Two, that it makes the design easier and the economics a lot better.

It would also give Sheffield a genuine sub-two hour service to London, which would only get better.

 

 

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bombardier’s 125 Mph Electric Train With Batteries

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

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

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

It has struck me, that for some applications, that the diesel engines are superfluous.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, in an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

In a report of an interview with Bombardier’s Des McKeon, this is said.

Conversion to pure electric operation is also a key design feature, with the ability to remove the diesel engines and fuel tanks at a later date.

So why not swap the diesel engines and add an equal weight of extra batteries?

Batteries would have the following uses.

Handling Energy Generated By Regenerative Braking

Batteries would certainly be handling the regenerative braking.

This would give efficiency savings in the use of electricity.

The total battery power of the train, would have to be large enough to handle all the electricity generated by the regenerative braking.

In the Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I calculated the kinetic energy of the train.

I’ll repeat the calculation and assume the following for a pure electric train.

  • The train is five cars, with say four motored cars.
  • The empty train weighs close to 180 tonnes.
  • There are 430 passengers, with an average weight of 90 Kg each, with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a total train weight of 218.7 tonnes.
  • The train is travelling at 200 kph or 125 mph.

These figures mean that the kinetic energy of the train is 94.8 kWh. This was calculated using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator.

My preferred battery arrangement would be to put a battery in each motored car of the train, to reduce electrical loses and distribute the weight. Let’s assume four of the five cars have a New Routemaster-sized battery of 55 kWh.

So the total onboard storage of the train could easily be around 200 kWh, which should be more than enough to accommodate the energy generated , when braking from full speed..

Traction And Hotel Power

Battery power would also be available to move the train and provide hotel power, when there is no electrification.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As the Aventra is probably one of the most modern of electric multiple units, I suspect that an Aventra will be at the lower end of this range.

An Intelligent Computer

The train’s well-programmed computer would do the following.

  • Choose whether to use electrification or battery power to power the train.
  • Decide when the battery could be charged, when electrification power was being used.
  • Arrange, that when a train stopped at a station without electrification, the batteries were as full as possible.
  • Manage power load, by shutting off or switching equipment to a low energy mode, when the train was running on batteries.
  • Raise and lower the pantograph as required.

The computer could take account of factors such as.

  • Passenger load and total weight.
  • Route and train’s position.
  • Weather.
  • Future signals.

The computer would only be doing a similar job that is done by those in the flight control systems of aircraft.

Although, trains run in less dimensions and don’t need to be steered.

How Far Would This Train Go On Batteries?

This is question of the same nature as how long is a piece of string?

It depends on the following.

  • The severity of the route.
  • The size of the batteries.
  • The load on the train.
  • The number of stops.
  • Any delays from slow-moving trains.
  • The timetable to be used.

I would expect that train manufacturers and operating companies will have a sophisticated mathematical model of the train and the route, that can be run through various scenarios.

With modern computers you could do a Monte-Carlo simulation, trying out millions of combinations, which would give a very accurate value for the battery size to have a near hundred percent chance of being able to run the route to the timetable.

After all if you ran out of power with a battery train, you stop and the train has to be rescued.

Suppose you were going to run your 125 mph Electric Train With Batteries from Kings Cross to Middlesbrough.

  • You would need a battery range of about fifty miles, to go between Northallerton and Middlesbrough stations and come back.
  • You would also need to have enough power to provide hotel power in Middlesbrough station, whilst the train was turning back.

Certain things could be arranged so that the service runs smoothly.

  1. The train must leave the East Coast Main Line with a fully-charged battery.
  2. The train must leave the East Coast Main Line as fast as possible.
  3. The train should have a minimum dwell time at all the intermediate stops.
  4. The train could be driven very precisely to minimise energy use.

Some form of charging system could also be provided at Middlesbrough. Although it could be difficult as there are only two platforms and trains seem to turn round in a very short time of six minutes

Electrification could also be extended for two hundred metres or so, at Northallerton junction to ensure points 1 and 2 were met.

Effectively, trains would be catapulted at maximum energy towards Middlesbrough.

Points 3 and 4 require good signalling, a good Driver Advisory System and above all good driving and operation.

What Other Routes Could Use 125 mph Electric Trains With Batteries?

Use your imagination!

 

 

 

 

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments