The Anonymous Widower

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains

Mark Hopwood is the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway and in Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I quote him as saying the following about the trains for the Fawley Branch Line.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Mark Hopwood is so right about using old diesels.

  • Where possible new and refurbished trains should be zero-carbon.
  • Fiesel is to be banned by 2035 in Scotland and 2040 in England and Wales.
  • Diesel trains and hydrogen trains for that matter need to refuelled.
  • Get the diagrams right and battery electric trains can be charged on existing electrification or automatic Fast Charging systems, when they turn back at terminal stations.
  • Electric trains attract passengers.
  • Battery electric trains are mouse-quiet!

Who would use anything else other than electric trains with a battery option for sections without electrification?

The Class 456 Train

These pictures show some of the twenty-four Class 456 trains, that are in South Western Railway’s fleet.

This is the specification of a Class 456 train.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph.
  • Capacity – 152 seats
  • Built 1990-1991
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Most trains seem to be used to lengthen trains from eight to ten cars, as some of the pictures shows. As these 4+4+2 formations will be replaced with new 10-car Class 701 trains or pairs of five-car Class 701 trains, the trains will be looking for a new role.

Does this explain Mark Hopwood’s statement?

It should be noted that the Class 456 trains are members of the Mark 3 family, and bare a strong resemblance to the Class 321 train, which are shown in these pictures.

Note that I have included the side view, as it shows the amount of space under these trains.

Some Class 321 trains are being converted to Class 600 hydrogen trains, by Alstom at Widnes. Others have been given a life-extending Renatus upgrade.

Are The Driver Cars Of Class 456 and Class 321 Trains Identical?

The trains may look similar, but does the similarity go deeper?

Could Alstom Use Class 600 Hydrogen Train Technology To Create A Class 456 Train With a Battery Capability?

Consider.

  • Alstom are positioning themselves as Train Upgrade Specialists in the UK. They have already signed a near billion pound deal to upgrade and maintain Avanti West Coast’s fleet of Class 390 trains.
  • Alstom are creating the Class 600 hydrogen train from withdrawn Class 321 trains.
  • A hydrogen-powered  train is basically a battery electric train with a hydrogen tank and fuel cell to charge the batteries.
  • The Class 600 train doesn’t appear to be making fast progress and is still without an order.
  • One possible hydrogen route must surely be London Waterloo and Exeter, so I suspect Alstom are talking to South Western Railway.
  • The Class 456 trains are owned by Porterbrook, who would probably like to extend the useful life of the trains.

Could it be that the battery core and AC traction package of Alstom’s hydrogen system for the Class 600 train can turn old British Rail-era electric multiple units into battery electric multiple units with a useful range?

It is certainly a possibility and one that is also within the capability of other companies in the UK.

Could The Class 456 Trains Receive a Class 321 Renatus Interior And Traction Package?

As Class 321 and Class 456 trains were built around the same time, the two trains must share components.

These pictures show the current interior of a Class 456 train.

This is excellent for a two-car electric multiple unit, built thirty years ago! Although, the refurbishment is more recent from 2014-15.

  • Note the wheel-chair space and the copious rubbish bins.
  • I also spotted a stowed wheel-chair ramp on the train. It can be seen if you look hard in the picture than shows the wheel-chair space.
  • Some might feel that toilets should be provided.

These pictures show the interior of a Class 321 train, that has been given the Renatus upgrade.

What is not shown is the more efficient AC traction package.

I have been told or read, that the Renatus interior will be used in the conversion of a Class 321 train to an Alstom Class 600 or Breeze hydrogen train.

On the other hand, the current Class 456 interior would probably be ideal for a branch line, where one of initial aims would be to attract passengers.

Could A Class 456 Train Have a Lightweight Traction Package?

Consider.

  • The Class 456 train will access electrification that is only 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Batteries work in DC.
  • The new traction motors will work in AC, if they follow the practice in the Class 321 Renatus and the Class 600 train.
  • Regenerative braking will charge the batteries in both trains.
  • Air-conditioning and other hotel services can work in DC.

Some components needed to run from 25 KVAC like a transformer could be left out to save weight and improve acceleration.

I would suspect that a Class 456 train with batteries could use a slimmed-down traction system from the Class 600 train.

On both Class 456 and 600 trains a core system, that would power the train, might contain.

  • The traction battery or batteries.
  • The traction motors that both drive and brake the train,
  • Third-rail electrification shoes, so that the batteries could be charged in a station, as required.
  • A clever computer system, that controls the acceleration, braking and charging as required.

On the Class 600 train, there would also be the following.

  • Hydrogen tanks and fuel cells to provide an independent power source to charge the batteries.
  • A pantograph to access 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Extra electrical gear to access the electrification.

I think it would be possible to design the Class 456 train with batteries as the basic train and just add the extra  hydrogen and electrical gubbins to make it a Class 600 train.

What Battery Range And Size Would Be Needed In A Class 456 Train?

These are typical branch line lengths for South Western Railway.

  • Fawley Branch – 8 miles
  • Wareham and Swanage – 11 miles
  • Lymington Branch – 5.6 miles
  • Reading and Basingstoke – 15.5 miles

I would suspect that a range of thirty miles on battery power would be sufficient for a Class 456 train with batteries.

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.

So applying that formula gives battery capacity of between 180 kWh and 300 kWh.

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.

If 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of a rebuilt London Underground D78 Stock, then I think it is reasonable that up to 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of the proposed train.

This picture of the Driver Car of a Class 321 train, shows that there is quite a bit of space under those trains. Are the Class 456 trains similar?

If we assume that the Class 456 train can have the following specification.

  • Battery capacity of 200 kWh in both cars.
  • Regenerative braking to battery.
  • Power consumption of 4 kWh per vehicle mile.

I think we could be approaching a range of fifty miles on a route without too many energy-consuming stops.

Charging The Batteries

I like the Vivarail’s Fast Charge concept of using third-rail equipment to charge battery trains.

This press release from the company describes how they charge their battery electric Class 230 trains.

  • The system is patented.
  • The system uses a trickle-charged battery pack, by the side of the track to supply the power.
  • The first system worked with the London Underground 3rd and 4th rail electrification standard.

As the length of rails needed to be added at charging points is about a metre, installing a charging facility in a station, will not be the largest of projects.

Under How Does It Work?, the press release says this.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

As an electrical engineer, I’m certain the concept could be adapted to charge the batteries of a conventional third-rail train.

Vivarail’s press release says this about modification to the trains.

The train’s shoe-gear is made of ceramic carbon so it is able to withstand the heat generated during the fast charge process.

That wouldn’t be a major problem to solve.

Class 456 Train With Batteries And Class 600 Train Compared

The following sub-sections will compare the trains in various areas.

Lightweight Design

As I suspect that the basic structure of the Class 456 and Class 600 trains are similar, systems like toilets, air-conditioning, traction motors and seats will be chosen with saving weight in mind.

Every kilogram saved will mean faster acceleration.

Operating Speed

The current Class 321 train is a 100 mph train, whilst the current Class 456 train is only a 75 mph train.

I wonder if applying the modern traction package of the Class 321 Renatus to the Class 456 train could speed the shorter train up a bit?

Range Away From Electrification

Alstom have quoted ranges of hundreds of miles for the Class 600 train on one filling of hydrogen, but I can’t see the Class 456 train with batteries doing much more than fifty miles on a full charge.

But using a Fast Charge system, I can see the Class 456 train with batteries fully-charging in under ten minutes.

Fast Charge systems at Romsey and Salisbury stations would surely enable the Class 456 trains with batteries to run the hourly service over the thirty-eight mile route between the two stations.

Passenger Capacity

The current Class 456 trains have a capacity of 152 seats.

In Orders For Alstom Breeze Trains Still Expected, I said this.

The three-car Alstom Breeze is expected to have a similar capacity to a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But until I see one in the flesh, I won’t have a better figure.

If South Western Railway were wanting to replace a two-car diesel Class 158 train, they’d probably accept something like 180 seats.

Increasing Passenger Capacity

There are compatible trailer cars around from shortening Class 321 trains from four to three cars and their may be more from the creation of the Class 600 trains.

I suspect that these could be added to both Class 456 and Class 600 trains to increase capacity by fifty percent.

As a two-car train, the Class 456 train might be a bit small, but putting in a third car, which had perhaps slightly more dense seating and possibly a toilet and even more batteries could make the train anything the operator needed.

Suitability For London Waterloo and Exeter via Salisbury

This is South Western Railway’s big need for a zero emission train.

  1. It is around 170 miles
  2. Only 48 miles are electrified.
  3. It is currently worked by three-car Class 159 trains working in pairs.
  4. Class 159 trains are 90 mph trains.

I have believed for some time, that with fast charging, a battery electric train could handle this route.

But, I would feel that.

  • Class 456 trains would be too slow and too small for this route.
  • Class 600 trains would be too small for this route.

On the other hand, I believe that Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company, could be ideal for the route.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range could even be sufficient take a train between Salisbury and Exeter with a single intermediate charge at Yeovil Junction station, where the trains wait up to ten minutes anyway.

There are other reasons for using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train rather than Class 600 trains.

  • First Group have a lot of experience of running Hitachi Class 80x trains, through their various subsidiaries.
  • They could share depot facilities at Exeter.
  • No specialist facilities would be needed.
  • A five-car Class 801 with batteries would have a convenient 300 seats.
  • I suspect they could be delivered before Alstom’s Class 600 train.

As the only new infrastructure required would be Fast Charge facilities at Salisbury and Yeovil Junction stations, I feel that Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, should be a shoe-in for this route.

First Delivery

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 600 train, says introduction into traffic could be in 2024. Given, the speed with which Greater Anglia’s Class 321 trains were updated to the Renatus specification, we could see Class 456 trains with a battery capability and new interiors running well before 2024.

A Few Questions

These questions have occurred to me.

Could The Technology Be Used To Create A Class 321 Battery Electric Train?

I don’t see why not!

I believe a Class 321 battery electric train could be created with this specification.

  • Three or four cars. Remember the Class 320 train is a three-car Class 321 train.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Renatus or operator-specified interior.
  • Toilet as required.
  • Electrification as required.
  • Battery range of around sixty miles.
  • Ability to use a Fast Charge system, that can easily be installed in a terminal platform.

Trains could be tailored to suit a particular route and/or operator.

Any Other Questions?

If you have any other questions, send them in and I’ll add them to this section.

Conclusion

It does appear that if the Class 456 trains, were to be fitted with a battery capability, that they would make a very useful two-car battery electric train, with the following specification.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph. This might be a bit higher.
  • Capacity – 152 seats
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • Modern interior
  • Range of 45-50 miles on batteries.
  • Ability to charge batteries in ten minutes in a station.
  • Ability to charge batteries on any track with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

This is the sort of train, that could attract other operators, who don’t have any electrification, but want to electrify short branch lines.

 

 

 

August 12, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Westbury Station – 30th July 2020

I went to Westbury station today and took these pictures.

I found Westbury station to be a station in extremely good condition.

It also had a buffet, where I was able to purchase a delicious ice cream.

Passenger Services Through Westbury Station

I was at the station for about an hour and several trains passed through.

Great Western Railway services through the station include.

  • One train per two hour (tp2h) – London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids – Stops
  • One tp2h – London Paddington and Penzance – Passes through
  • One tp2h – London Paddington and Plymouth – Passes through
  • One train per hour (tph) – Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Stops
  • One tp2h – Great Malvern and Westbury
  • One tp2h – Gloucester and Weymouth – Stops
  • One tp2h – Swindon and Westbury

Train classes included Class 800 trains and Class 166 trains.

South Western Railway services through the station include.

  • Five trains per day – Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads – Stops

Train classes include Class 159 trains.

Battery Trains Through Westbury

Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range could even be sufficient take a train between Westbury and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip.

Many of the trains through Westbury go to the same stations.

Distances are as follows.

  • Bristol Temple Meads – 28 miles
  • Newbury – 42 miles
  • Salisbury – 24 miles
  • Swindon – 32.5 miles
  • Taunton – 47 miles

It looks like all of these places should be in range of an electric train with a battery capability, providing there is a charging facility at the other end.

An Electrification Island At Westbury Station

I have been advocating an island of electrification around Westbury station for some time and feel about a dozen miles of electrification through the station would be sufficient for Class 800 trains with a battery capability to bridge the gap.

  • At Newbury, trains would access the current electrification into London Paddington.
  • Between Exeter and Taunton, the rail route runs alongside the M5, so why not electrify this stretch, as the wires will not be so noticeable?

Looking at Westbury, to my untrained eye, it would appear that a short section of electrification around the station, would not be the most challenging of projects.

I believe that discontinuous electrification between Newbury and Exeter would be possible and could gradually be extended across Devon and Cornwall.

It should also be noted that one of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains has a range of 56 miles, so that these places from Westbury could be an return trip on batteries, with a well-driven train with excellent energy management.

  • Bath Spa – 17 miles
  • Bradford-on-Avon – 7 miles
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 28 miles
  • Chippenham – 16 miles
  • Frome – 6 miles
  • Salisbury – 24 miles
  • Trowbridge – 4 miles
  • Warminster – 9 miles

Obviously, the number of stops and the terrain will play a part.

Freight Might Drive Full Electrification Through Westbury Station

As the pictures show, there are heavy freight trains going through the area, which bring long and weighty loads of stone from the Mendips to London.

  • There are regularly two or three stone trains in an average hour of the day.
  • Like in the picture, I suspect they are usually hauled by a noisy, smelly, polluting and carbon-dioxide emitting Class 66 Locomotive. Not all of these, are as clean and well-maintained, as the one in the picture.
  • Some trains start at Merehead Quarry, which is about fifteen miles from Westbury station.

I believe that we must decarbonise freight trains.

But freight and electric haulage is not a simple subject.

  • I once had extensive talks with a Senior Crane Driver at the Port of Felixstowe during an Ipswich Town Away match. Ports don’t like overhead wires, as containers do get dropped and fall off rail wagons.
  • Suppose a historic line without electrification, like the Settle and Carlisle has a serious land-slip, which it did a couple of years ago. How do you haul in the materials for repair?
  • Because freight can be of a random and unpredictable nature, to electrify freight, you probably need to electrify the whole rail network.

For these and other reasons, we need independently-powered freight locomotives and I feel that a new freight locomotive will develop, that will be needed by the rail industry all over the world.

There are several solutions.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is the simplest solution and would mean that the current diesel locomotives could be used.

In Grant Shapps Announcement On Friday, I talked about Government support for an industrial process, that has been developed by Oxford University and their spin-off company; Velocys, from the the Fischer-Tropsch Process, which can produce, the following fuels from household and industrial waste.

  • Aviation biofuel.
  • Biodiesel.

A plant to process 500,000 tonnes per year of Lincolnshire finest waste is now being built at Immingham to create 50,000,000 litres of fuel, by Altalto, which is a partnership between Velocys, British Airways and Shell.

If nothing else, waste-to-fuel is the interim solution to the decarbonisation of tricky sectors like heavy rail freight, rail construction, large diesel-powered machines, ships or long-distance aviation.

This fuel could be ideal to haul the heavy stone trains from the Mendips.

Hydrogen

I did think, it would be hydrogen powered, but I’m not so sure now, as hydrogen trains and locomotives seem to have a slow development cycle.

Although, there is one factor, that might influence the use of hydrogen as a fuel, which I wrote about in Thirsty High-Rollers … Mining’s Heavy Haulers Prime Candidates For Hydrogen Conversion.

Mining and quarrying don’t have a good green image, but converting mines and quarries to hydrogen power, would surely have operational and good public relational advantages.

It would also ensure a plentiful and convenient supply of hydrogen, for any hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Hydrogen-powered locomotives, with their electric transmissions, would probably be able to use electrification for traction power, so they would put pressure on the Government to electrify between Westbury and Newbury stations, so that there was a fully-electrified route between the Mendips and London.

Rolls-Royce’s Staggering Development

Staggering is not my word, but that of Paul Stein, who is Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer.

He used the word in a press release, which I discuss in Our Sustainability Journey.

To electrify aviation, Rolls-Royce has developed a 2.5 MW generator, based on a small gas-turbine engine, which Paul Stein describes like this.

Amongst the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5 MW. That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.

This generator is designed for flight and the data sheet for the gas-turbine engine is available on the Internet.

  • It has a weight of under a couple of tonnes compared to the thirteen tonnes of the diesel engine and generator in a Class 68 locomotive.
  • It is also more powerful than the diesel.
  • It looks to be as frugal, if not more so!
  • Rolls-Royce haven’t said if this gas-turbine can run on aviation biofuel, but as many of Rolls-Royce’s large engines can, I would be very surprised if it couldn’t!

Rolls-Royce’s German subsidiary is a large producer of rail and maritime diesel engines, so the company has the expertise to customise the generator for rail applications.

I can see this generator ending up in a high-powered heavy independently-powered electric locomotive for hauling stone and inter-modal container trains.

As with hydrogen-powered locomotives, this new breed of gas-turbine locomotive with its electric transmission, will be able to use electrification, where it exists.

So would locomotive developments drive the electrification through Westbury and especially between Westbury and Newbury?

I would rate is likely, that in the future, increasingly rail locomotives will have sophisticated electric transmissions, between their prime motive power of diesel, hydrogen, gas-turbine or whatever and their traction system. All of these locomotives will have pantographs and/or third-rail shoes to access electrification, where it exists.

These locomotives will surely add to pressure to electrify between Westbury and Newbury.

Biodiesel is surely the interim freight solution, if one is needed.

Future Zero-Carbon Passenger Services

Passenger services through Westbury can be divided into three groups.

Great Western Railway’s Services Between London Paddington And Devon And Cornwall

From Beeching Reversal projects put forward over the last few months, it looks like these services will increase and stop at several new and refurbished stations.

I can see discontinuous electrification being used to create a series of electrification islands to allow Class 800 trains, with a battery capability reach the Far South West of Cornwall.

Electrification islands could be at places like

  • Around Westbury station.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter St. Davids stations alongside the M5.
  • Between Plymouth station and the Royal Albert bridge.
  • Around Bodmin Parkway station
  • Around Truro station
  • At Newquay station
  • At Penzance station

Obviously, the number and type of the various installations will depend on the methods used and the engineering required.

I do believe that with Hitachi trains, that meet their specification, that trains will be able to travel between Paddington and Penzance without touching a drop of diesel.

Great Western Railway’s Cardiff Central And Portsmouth Harbour Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Cardiff Central and Filton Junction – 33 miles – Electrified
  • Filton Junction and Bristol Temple Meads – 5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrified
  • Westbury and Salisbury – 24 miles – Not Electrified
  • Salisbury and Southampton Central – 15 miles – Not Electrified
  • Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour – 26 miles – Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave the Great Western Main Line at Filton Junction with a full battery.
  • It can leave the electrification at Westbury station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Southampton Central station with a full battery.
  • Third-rail shoes are fitted for working between Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour stations.

Recharging batteries at Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury stations, although probably welcome, are not necessary.

I can envisage Hitachi Class 800 and Class 385 trains being able to fulfil this role, along with Bombardier Electrostars and Aventras and Siemens Desiros.

As Great Western Railway have forty-five Class 387 trains, conversion of some of these to battery electric operation must be a possibility.

Great Western Railway’s Gloucester and Weymouth Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Gloucester and Bristol Temple Meads – 39 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrifield
  • Westbury and Dorchester Junction – 52 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dorchester Junction and Weymouth – 4 miles – Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Gloucester station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Bristol Temple Meads with a full battery.
  • It can leave Westbury with a full battery.
  • It can leave the South Western Main Line at Dorchester Junction with a full battery.

It would be a tight trip for a battery electric train and I suspect, that there would be some extra electrification between Westbury and Dorchester Junction or perhaps charging facilities at Frome or Yeovil Pen Mill stations.

The alternative would be to fit larger batteries on the train.

As to the train to be used, a Class 387 train with a battery capability would surely be ideal.

Great Western Railway’s Swindon and Westbury Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Swindon and Chippenham – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Chippenham and Westbury- 16 miles – Not Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Chippenham station with a full battery.

This would have sufficient charge to do the thirty-two mile round trip from Chippenham to Westbury and back.

As to the train to be used, a Class 387 train with a battery capability would surely be ideal.

South Western Railway’s Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrified
  • Westbury and Salisbury- 24 miles – Not Electrified

t would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Bristol Temple Meads station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Westbury with a full battery.
  • It can leave Salisbury with a full battery.

But, I do wonder, if with a slightly larger battery, a well-driven train could work the route with only charging the battery at Westbury station?

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.

 

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures of Bristol Temple Meads station, when I visited.

Note.

  1. The station is Listed to the highest level of Grade 1.
  2. London services seem to use Platforms 15 and 16.
  3. There is quite a fair bit of space between the tracks.

.Do Network Rail need all the hassle of full electrification of one of Brunel’s most famous creations?

Bristol Temple Meads Station And Trains With a Battery Capability

Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip. So this means that one of these trains could work the London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads stations service via Bath Spa using the electrification between London Paddington and Chippenham stations.

But where could trains reach, if they were able to leave Bristol Temple Meads station with a fully-charged battery?

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Filton Abbey Wood – 4 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Newport – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Severn Beach – 13.5 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Westbury – 28.5 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles

Note.

  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway, Filton Abbey Wood, Severn Beach and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Other local destinations could be added as the Bristol Metro develops.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The curving nature of the platforms doesn’t make 25 KVAC overhead electrification easy.
  2. Trains to and from London appear to use the two Eastern platforms 13 and 15.
  3. It might be possible to increase platform lengths to run longer trains to and from places like London.

I believe that there are three possible ways of charging the trains in Bristol Temple Meads station.

25  KVAC Overhead Electrification

This could be short length of standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification in platforms, that would be served by trains with pantographs like the Class 800 trains.

The driver would stop in the correct place in the platform and connect the pantograph, whilst waiting in the station.

Note that the Class 800 trains to and from London typically take 35-20 minutes to turn round, which is time enough for a full charge.

750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

This could be short lengths of standard 750 VDC third-rail electrification in platforms, that would be used by standard third-rail shoes on trains.

The train would connect automatically and charging would take place, whilst waiting in the station.

A Specialist Charging Facility Like Vivarail’s Fast Charge System

Vivarail’s Fast Charging system is described in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

This extract from this Vivarail press release explains how the system works.

he concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

I believe that this system or something like it could be adapted to work with all trains with a battery capability in the UK.

I also believe that this system can be designed so that it is ultra-safe and doesn’t disrupt, the visual impact of the station.

Conclusion

Bristol Temple Meads station could be converted into a station, where a high proportion of trains ran solely on electricity.

 

 

 

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bath Spa Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures as I twice passed through Bath Spa station.

These are my thoughts.

Electrification Gantries On The Platforms

As somebody, whose eyesight is on the wane, I am not a lover of electrification, where the gantries are bolted to the platforms. These pictures show some installations of this type at Crouch Hill station.

Would electrification gantries like these, be appropriate in Bath Spa station?

Could Lightweight Electrification Gantries Be Placed Between The Tracks?

These pictures show the wide gap between the two tracks in Bath Spa station.

Could double-track lightweight structures, based on a design like this be placed between the tracks?

These structures are made out of laminated wood and are surely a possibility.

A Makeover For Bath Spa Station

If you look at much of the woodwork and paint in the fabric of the station, it appears tired and in need of refurbishment.

Whether the station is electrified or not, the station will need a high-class makeover.

Services Through Bath Spa Station

Three train companies run services through Bath Spa station.

There are also some freight services hauled by diesel locomotives.

Trains leave Bath Spa station using one of three routes via either.

Most trains seem to go via Bristol Temple Meads station.

  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Chippenham stations are 24.5 miles.
  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury stations are 28.5 miles.

Neither distance is that long.

An Alternative To Full Electrification

When I look at the distances between Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham and Westbury stations, they tell me that they are within the range of Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip.

Notes for each station follow.

Bristol Temple Meads

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles

Note.

  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Bristol Temple Meads station could become a major hub for battery trains.

All local services and all passing longer distance services could be trains with a battery capability.

I write more about Britol Temnple Meads station as a battery train hub in Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020.

Chippenham

A train would leave Chippenham station with a full battery after charging on the fully-electrified route from London.

Chippenham and Weston-super-Mare would be in battery range with a charging facility at Weston-super-Mare station.

It should be noted that every extra mile of electrification past Chippenham, can be added to the distance electric trains with a battery capability can reach.

Westbury

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Salisbury – 24 miles.
  • Southampton – 49 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line, at Southampton Central station.
  • Weymouth – 53 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line at Dorchester Junction.

Note.

  1. A return trip to Salisbury would be possible.
  2. Trains would need to have the capability to access 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  3. A few extra miles of electrification may make operation South from Westbury station easier, more reliable and allow more destinations to be included.

Westbury station could be a major hub for battery trains.

This Google Map shows Westbury station and the lines around it.

I would probably electrify a few miles either side of Westbury, so that passing trains could be in contact with the overhead wires for perhaps five to ten minutes and take a good long drink.

  • Electrification could be either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC overhead.
  • Newbury, where the electrification to London starts is 42 miles away and trains can pick it up at speed.
  • Taunton is 47 miles away and could be electrified to Exeter St. Davids.

Great Western Railway could run all their services between London Paddington and the South-West using Class 800 trains with a battery capability.

Conclusion

The prolitical, heritage and engineering problems of electrifying through Bath Spa station can be voided, by electrification and charging facilities at stations like Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Westbury and Weston-super-Mare.

July 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – New Station For Langport And Somerton Area

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

This Google Map shows the Langport and Somerton area.

Note.

  1. This map is probably best clicked to see in a large size.
  2. Langport is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Somerton is in the North-East corner of the map.
  4. The Reading-Taunton Line goes through both villages, although both stations are now closed.
  5. Somerton station was in a cutting in the middle of the village.

The station’s location is shown in this second Google Map.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Somerton station, this seems to be the plan.

A May 2018 transport strategy suggested that a station should be opened to serve the Somerton and Langport area.

Judging from the map, there should be space for a two-platform station.

Services Though Somerton Station

Currently, there are three Great Western Railway (GWR) services on this route.

  • London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids via Reading, Newbury, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton and Tiverton Parkway.
  • London Paddington and Plymouth via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot and Totnes.
  • London Paddington and Penzance via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne and St Erth.

All services have a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)

The frequency of trains between Reading and Taunton on the 24th July was around each hour as follows.

  • 7 – 4/1
  • 8 – 4/1
  • 9 – 5/2
  • 10 4/0
  • 11 6/2
  • 12 5/2
  • 13 – 5/1
  • 14 – 5/2
  • 15 – 4/1
  • 16 – 3/0
  • 17 – 7/2
  • 18 – 3/0
  • 19 – 3/0
  • 20 – 3/0
  • 21 – 3/1
  • 22 – 0/0
  • 23 – 0/0
  • 24 – 1/1

Note.

  1. The first figure is the total number of trains per hour (tph).
  2. The second figure is the total number of freight tph.

There is under two tph in both directions and under one freight tph.

As the Reading-Taunton Line is a 110 mph route, my scheduling experience, says that with 125 mph Class 800 trains running all the passenger services, there should be some space for a few more services on the route.

So could this mean a fourth service between London Paddington and the South West?

Are we seeing the emergence of a stopping service, between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids?

Hitachi’s Proposed Class 800 Trains With Batteries

Hitachi’s proposed train is described in this infographic.

Note the phrase – Allows Discontinuous Electrification; at the top of the infographic.

Suppose the train ran these legs.

  • Newbury – Westbury – 42 miles
  • Westbury – Taunton – 48 miles
  • Taunton – Exeter St. Davids – 30 miles
  • Exeter St. Davids – Plymouth – 52 miles

All would be under the 55 mile limit for battery range.

Conclusion

It looks like GWR are building up to increase services between London Paddington and Exeter St Davids.

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could Hitachi’s Class 800 Trains Work The Cornish Main Line On Battery Power?

The distance between Plymouth and Penzance stations along the Cornish Main Line is just seventy-nine miles and thirty-eight chains. I’ll call it 79.5 miles.

Hitachi’s proposed train is described in this infographic.

The range on battery power of 90 km or 56 miles, will not be quite enough to get all the way between Plymouth and Penzance!

But note the phrase – Allows Discontinuous Electrification; at the top of the infographic.

Will Electrification Be Needed?

Obviously or the train could perhaps wait at Truro for ten minutes to charge the batteries.

But how customer-unfriendly and disruptive to good operating practice is that?

Could Bigger Batteries Be Fitted?

This obviously is a possibility, but surely an operator would prefer all of their trains to have the same battery range and updating them all for a longer distance might not be an economic proposition.

Could Intelligent Discontinuous Third-Rail Electrification Be Used?

Third-rail electrification, is hated by the Health & Safety Taliban, as it occasionally kills people trespassing or falling on the railway. But in the UK, we have around 1,500 miles of third-rail electrified line, that generally operates to a high level of safety.

Can my modern successors make third-rail electrification absolutely safe in new installations?

Third-Rail And Discontinuous Electrification Installations!

To connect to overhead electrification, the driver or an automatic system on the train, must raise the pantograph. It doesn’t often go wrong, but when it does, it can bring down the wires. This section on panotograph weaknesses from Wikipedia give more details.

With third-rail, the connection and disconnection is automatic, with far less to go wrong.

These pictures show a gap in the third-rail electrification at the Blackfriars station, which was rebuilt in 2012, so it must meet all modern regulations.

Note the gap in the third-rail, which carries the current.

  • The third-rail shoes on the train disconnect and connect automatically, as the train passes through.
  • The only rails with voltage are between the tracks for safety.
  • The high-tech shields appear to be real tree wood painted yellow.

As an Electrical Engineer, I actually suspect, that this gap in the conductor rail, is to isolate the North and South London electricity supplies from each other,, so that a catastrophic failure on one side doesn’t affect both halves of Thameslink.

Third-Rail Electrification In Stations

Most rail passengers in the UK, understand third-rail electrification, if they’ve ever used trains in the South of London or Merseyside.

Electrifying stations using third-rail equipment could enable battery trains to go further.

  • Stopping trains could top-up their batteries.
  • Passing trains, that were low on power could make a pit-stop.
  • All trains would connect automatically to the third-rail, when in the station.

The safety level would be raised by making sure that the third-rail was electrically-dead unless a train was over the top.

I am by training a Control Engineer and one of my first jobs in a dangerous factory as a fifteen-year-old,  was designing and building safety systems, that cut power to guillotines, when the operator put their hands somewhere they shouldn’t! I remember endlessly testing the system with an old broom, which survived unscathed.

I believe that only switching on the electrification, when a train completes the circuit, is a fairly simple operation for modern control switchgear. I can imagine an intelligent switch constantly monitoring the resistance  and only switching on power, when the resistance in the circuit looks like a train.

Third-Rail Electrification In Discrete Locations

Overhead electrification can receive complaints in scenic locations, but third-rail electrification can be invisible in tunnels and over bridges and viaducts.

The Cornish Main Line has four tunnels, two bridges, which include the Royal Albert Bridge, and no less than thirty-two viaducts.

How many of these could be used to hide electrification?

  • Any electrified sections could be intelligently controlled to increase safety.
  • Power for the electrification could come from local renewable sources, using techniques like Riding Sunbeams.

I can see engineers developing several techniques for discrete electrification.

Third-Rail And Charging Battery Trains

I like the Vivarail’s Fast Charge concept of using third-rail equipment to charge battery trains.

This press release from the company describes how they charge their battery electric Class 230 trains.

  • The system is patented.
  • The system uses a trickle-charged battery pack, by the side of the track to supply the power.
  • The first system worked with the London Underground 3rd and 4th rail electrification standard.

As the length of rails needed to be added at charging points is about a metre, installing a charging facility in a station, will not be the largest of projects.

Under How Does It Work?, the press release says this.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

As an electrical engineer, I’m certain the concept could be adapted to charge the batteries of a conventional third-rail train.

Vivarail’s press release says this about modification to the trains.

The train’s shoe-gear is made of ceramic carbon so it is able to withstand the heat generated during the fast charge process.

That wouldn’t be a major problem to solve.

Hitachi And Third Rail

The picture shows a Hitachi Class 395 train at Gillingham station.

 

The silver-coloured  third-rail equipment is clearly visible, under the javelin logo.

These trains are cousins of all the new Hitachi trains in the UK, so I suspect fitting third-rail equipment to Class 80x trains, is just a matter of finding the appropriate documents on the computer and raiding the parts bin.

I suspect, as Hitachi will probably be building some more trains for Southeastern to start the Highspeed service between London St. Pancras and Hastings, that Hitachi are already working on the design of a third-rail high-speed train with batteries.

I doubt that Hitachi have any fears about fitting third-rail gear to their trains, as an optional extra.

Electrifying Between Plymouth And Penzance

Obviously, Plymouth and Penzance stations would have charging facilities, but now many would the trains handle the 79.5 miles in between?

There are three possibilities.

Limited-Third Rail Electrification

As I indicated earlier short lengths of intelligent third-rail electrification could be added at various places on the route.

A full battery would take the train fifty-six miles and as the Cornish Main Line is nearly eighty miles long, I suspect that the train would need almost a full charge halfway along the route.

  • Hitachi claim in the infographic, that a full-charge takes 10-15 minutes, when the train is static, so I will assume the largest figure of this range, as charging on the move might not be as efficient, with everything happening at 90 mph.
  • So I will assume a fifteen minute charge time.
  • Typically, a Class 80x takes two hours between Penzance and Plymouth, which is an average speed of just 40 mph.
  • In fifteen minutes, the train will go ten miles. So a rough estimate would say ten miles should be electrified.

As electrification in stations would allow trains to have a bigger sup, a scientifically-correct simulation would show the best philosophy.

The London Paddington and Penzance services call at the following stations, that are West of Plymouth.

Liskeard, Saltash, St. Germans, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, Hayle and St Erth

Note.

  1. Some smaller stations do get skipped.
  2. According to Real Time Trains, stops seem to take 1-2 minutes.
  3. Trains are usually nine- or ten-cars, but I feel that the proposed improvements between Bodmin General and Bodmin Parkway stations, that I wrote about in Increased Service Provision Bodmin General-Bodmin Parkway, may result in a large reorganisation of services between London and Cornwall.

Could it be that electrifying the major stations with third-rail electrification would enable enough power to be taken on board by a train running between London Paddington and Penzance, so that the journey could be completed?

Vivarail Fast Chargers

Vivarail’s Fast Chargers could be fitted at all or selected stations and trains could take a sip as and when they need.

A charger would also be needed at any Cornish terminal station, that would have services from battery electric trains.

A Mixture Of Third-Rail Electrification And Vivarail Fast Chargers

Both technologies are interchangeable and can be used with compatible battery electric trains.

I would expect an accurate mathematical model will indicate the best layout of electrification and Fast Chargers.

 

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Battery Electric Class 800 Trains Between London Paddington And Bristol Temple Mead Stations

Hitachi have changed the rules on electrification, by the announcement of the development of battery electric trains in collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

The proposed train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

It will have a range on battery power of 90 km or 56 miles.

Currently, services between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads stations are as follows.

  • The frequency is two trains per hour (tph)
  • Services call at Reading, Didcot Parkway (1tph), Swindon, Chippenham and Bath Spa.
  • Services use the electrification between London Paddington and Chippenham.
  • Services use diesel power between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads.
  • Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads are 24.5 miles apart.

It looks to me that a well-driven Class 800 train with Hyperdrive Innovation’s clever batteries replacing some or all of the diesel engines could run between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations and back without using a drop of diesel.

It might be a bit tight, but it would certainly be possible, if there were more electrification between Bath Spa and Chippenham stations.

  • From this article on the BBC, which is entitled Box Tunnel Reopens After Network Rail Electrification Work, it appears that a lot of the pre-electrification work has been completed.
  • This would reduce the distance without wires to perhaps 18-20 miles.

As the Class 800 trains have agile pantographs, I’m sure that it will be possible for battery electric Class 800 trains to run between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads stations.

Electrification At Bristol Temple Meads Station

This will surely happen and with full electrification, the following will be possible.

  • Trains would be able to recharge before returning to Chippenham.
  • Trains would be able to extend the service using battery power to Weston-super-Mare, which is only twenty miles away.
  • Trains would be able to use the power whilst waiting in the station.

It appears that trains that run between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads station, use a selection of platforms in Bristol.

Would it be sensible to reduce the number of platforms used and electrify them first, so that battery electric trains could charge their batteries?

Could A Battery Electric Train Run Between Bristol Temple Means And Taunton Stations?

Consider.

  • These two stations are 46 miles apart via Weston-super-Mare, so if there was charging at Taunton, this service might be possible.
  • The direct route is a couple of miles shorter.
  • A train with full batteries at Taunton, would reach well past Exeter.

Could a battery-electric service be of use in creating Great Western Railway’s timetable, as in the Peak services are extended to Weston-super-Mare and Taunton stations?

It would certainly be lower carbon. than a current journey.

Would The Railway Through Bath Need To Be Electrified?

This would depend on three main factors.

  • There is a certain amount of opposition to electrification in the centre of Bath.
  • Can all passenger trains through the city be made zero-carbon without electrification?
  • Can all freight trains through the city be made zero-carbon without electrification?

I would feel that all passenger trains could be run by appropriate trains, but freight would be a problem under existing technology.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if no electrification was ever erected through Bath!

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Charfield Station

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

Wikipedia says this about the Proposed Reopening of Charfield station.

Services between Bristol and Birmingham pass through Charfield. There have been discussions about the viability of reopening the station. The costs would be shared between Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire councils since, although the station would be in South Gloucestershire, the nearby town of Wotton-under-Edge would be a principal beneficiary.

This Google Map shows the village with the Bristol and Birmingham Line passing through.

Note, that the road running down the East side of the railway is called Station Road.

There appear to be these services running through the location.

  • CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh/Glasgow via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Birmingham New Street
  • CrossCountry – Exeter St. Davids and Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Birmingham New Street
  • GWR – Great Malvern and Westbury via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa

Note.

All services appear to be hourly.

Bristol Parkway station is thirteen miles away by rail, so is an easy drive, but a very stiff walk or cycle.

Timings by rail from Charfield based on passing GWR trains include.

  • Bristol Parkway – 15 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 27 minutes
  • Cheltenham Spa – 38 minutes
  • Gloucester – 24 minutes

There may be a possibility of improving these times, as the current timetable might have been written for slow trains and a Class 158, Class 165 or Class 166 train can do better.

CrossCountry times include.

  • Birmingham New Street – 68 minutes
  • Bristol Parkway – 11 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 23 minutes
  • Cheltenham Spa – 17 minutes
  • Worcestershire Parkway – 32 minutes

I would think, that Charfield station could receive one GWR  stopping train and one fast CrossCountry train per hour.

Discontinuous Electrification Between Birmingham And Bristol

Hitachi have changed the rules on electrification, by the announcement of the development of battery electric trains in collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

The proposed train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

It will have a range on battery power of 90 km or 56 miles.

Consider.

  • Midlands Connect have ambitions see an extra hourly service between Birmingham and Bristol Temple Meads, with all services running five minutes faster. See Midlands Rail Hub.
  • CrossCountry will likely be getting new trains, to replace their exclusively all-diesel fleet. They could be tri-mode trains to make the most of long stretches of electrification on their routes, batteries for short gaps of up to fifty miles and diesel power everywhere else.
  • There are electrified stations at Bristol Parkway and possibly Bristol Temple Meads in a few years.
  • There is full electrification between Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove stations.
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway are seventy miles apart.
  • There is a possibility, that Cheltenham Spa station will get a charging facility so that London Paddington and Cheltenham Spa services could be run by Class 800 trains converted to battery electric operation.

I don’t think it is an unreasonable prediction to make that Hitachi and other train manufacturers like Stadler with their Class 755 trains, have the technology to run low-carbon services between Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street stations.

  • Trains would leave Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway with full batteries.
  • Quick battery top-ups can be taken at Cheltenham Spa and Worcestershire Parkway stations.
  • The fast acceleration of the electric trains will allow extra stops.

I think it would also be possible for GWR to use battery electric Class 387 trains between Great Malvern and Westbury.

Charfield could be an electric train-only station.

Conclusion

The reopening of Charfield station is really a simple station rebuilding and reopening and local passenger forecasts will probably make the decision.

But these forecasts must take into account, the likely partial decarbonisation of the route through the station, which would surely increase ridership.

The new station could also be built with provision for a possible charging facility, in case it might be needed in the future.

 

July 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Future Of West Midlands Trains’s Class 350 Trains

Currently, West Midlands Trains have four sub-fleets of Class 350 trains.

  • Class 350/1 – 30 trains – Leased from Angel Trains
  • Class 350/2 – 37 trains – Leased from Porterbrook
  • Class 350/3 – 10 trains – Leased from Angel Trains
  • Class 350/4 – 10 trains –  Leased from Angel Trains

Note.

  1. All are 110 mph trains
  2. The trains are capable of being modified for 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Under Future the Wikipedia entry for Class 350 trains says this.

West Midlands Trains announced that they would be replacing all 37 of their 350/2 units for Class 350/4 units cascaded from TransPennine Express and brand new Class 730 units which both can travel up to speeds of 110 mph.

In October 2018, Porterbrook announced it was considering converting its fleet of 350/2s to Battery electric multiple units for potential future cascades to non-electrified routes.

As West Midlands Trains have ordered 45 Class 730 trains for express services, it looks like they will be expanding services on the West Coast Main Line and around the West Midlands.

But it does appear that as many as thirty-seven trains will be returned to Porterbrook.

Class 350 Trains With Batteries

I believe that if fitted with batteries, these trains would meet or be very near to Hitachi’s specification, which is given in this infographic from Hitachi.

 

Note that 90 kilometres is 56 miles.

Could West Midlands Trains Run Any Services With Class 350 Trains With Batteries?

I think there are some possibilities

  • Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury – 30 miles without electrification between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton – Charging facility needed at Shrewsbury.
  • Birmingham New Street and Hereford via Worcester – 41 miles without electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove – Charging facility needed at Hereford.
  • Leamington Spa and Nuneaton via Coventry – 19 miles without electrification – Charging on existing electrification at Coventry and Nuneaton.
  • The proposed direct Wolverhampton and Walsall service, that i wrote about in Green Light For Revived West Midlands Passenger Service.

There may also be some services added because of the development of the Midlands Rail Hub and extensions to London services,

Who Has Shown Interest In These Trains?

I can’t remember any reports in the media, about any train operator wanting to lease these trains; either without or with batteries.

Conclusion

It does all seem a bit strange to me.

  • As a passenger, I see nothing wrong with these trains.
  • They are less than twenty years old.
  • They are 110 mph trains.
  • They have 2+2 interiors, with lots of tables.
  • They could be fitted with batteries if required.

But then, all of those things could be said about Greater Anglia’s Class 379 trains.

 

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement Of The Beverley And York Rail Line

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

The York And Beverley Line does what it says in the name.

A section in the Wikipedia entry is entitled Re-Opening Proposals and the treatment of the trackbed after closure would appear to be a case study in how not to mothball a railway.

  • The original route has been built on in several places at Huntingdon, New Earswick, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge.
  • A new route will have to be built to connect to the York and Scarborough Line at Haxby.
  • There may also be problems at Beverley.

The only positive thing I can see, is that York City Council, want to re-open Haxby station. If this station were to be re-opened with a future-proofed design that might help in the wider scheme of reopening the Beverley and York Line.

This Google Map shows the original location of Haxby station.

Note.

  1. There is a dreaded level crossing in the middle of the village, that typically has around two trains per hour (tph)
  2. The road going to the West at the top of the map, is called Station Road, which is a bit of a giveaway.
  3. The building on the triangular site is called Station garage.
  4. Some reports on the Internet say that allotments will be turned into car parks.
  5. According to Wikipedia 22,000 people live within three miles of the station site.

The station site appears to be hemmed in by housing and comments from readers on one report are complaining about car parking being a problem an definitely don’t want the station.

Wikipedia says this about the proposed service on the Beverley and York Line.

The report recommended reinstating a service from Hull via Beverley, Market Weighton, Stamford Bridge and Pocklington connecting to the York to Scarborough Line at Haxby, on a double track line with a frequency of 2 trains per hour, with intermediate stations only at Market Weighton, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge. The estimate journey time was under 1 hour.

As the Beverley and York Line can’t join the York and Scarborough Line in the middle of Haxby, would it join North or South of the town?

Joining to the North would allow the Beverley trains to call at Haxby, but that would mean the level crossing was busy with six tph.

This Google Map shows the countryside between Haxby in the North and Earswick in the South.

Note.

  1. The York and Scarborough Line going through the centre of Haxby and then passing down the West side of the light brown fields.
  2. York is to the South and Scarborough is to the North.

I wonder, if the Beverley and York Line could branch to the East here and skirt to the North of Earswick before continuing to Pocklington for Beverley.

Perhaps, a Park-and-Ride station could be situated, where the railway and the road called Landing Lane cross?

At Beverley, this Google Map shows how the Beverley and York Line connects to the station.

Note.

  1. Beverley station at the bottom of the map.
  2. The Hull and Scarborough running North-South through the station.

The line divides by Beverley Rugby Football Club, with the trackbed of the Beverley and York Line going off in the North-Westerly direction.

This seems a lot easier than at the York end of the route.

I have flown my virtial helicopter over much of the route between Beverley and York, and the trackbed is visible but missing in places, where construction has taken place.

Would The Route Be Single Or Double-Track?

The plans call for double track, but would it be necessary?

  • There will only be two tph, that will take under an hour.
  • No freight trains will use the line.
  • The route is 32 miles long.

I suspect a single track would suffice, with a passing loop at Market Weighton station.

Should The Line Be Electrified?

I wouldn’t electrify the whole line, but I would electrify the following.

  • Hull and Beverley, so that battery trains to and from London could top up their batteries.
  • Haxby and York, so that battery trains to and from Scarborough could top up their batteries.

These two short stretches of electrification would allow battery electric operation between Hull and York, trains could charge their batteries at either end of the route.

Electrification Between Hull And Beverley

Consider.

  • Hull Trains extend their London and Hull services to Beverley.
  • Hull and Beverley are just over eight miles apart.
  • Trains to and from London Kings Cross use the electrification on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Temple Hirst Junction.
  • Hull and Temple Hirst Junction are thirty-six miles apart.
  • Hull Trains and LNER use Hitachi Class 800 or Class 802 electro-diesel trains on services between London Kings Cross and Hull.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric conversion of these trains, would have a range of 56 miles, according to this infographic.

I have flown my helicopter along the route and counted the following.

 

  • Level crossings – 5
  • Modern road bridges – 5
  • Footbridges – 5
  • Other bridges – 5
  • Stations – 1

Nothing looked too challenging.

In my view electrification between Hull and Beverley and at convenient platforms at both stations, would be a simple way of decarbonising rail travel between London and Hull.

If this electrification were to be installed, distances from the electrification between Hull and Beverley, these would be the distances to be covered on battery power to various places.

  • Bridlington – 23 miles
  • Doncaster via Goole – 41 miles
  • Leeds – 52 miles
  • Neville Hill Depot – 49 miles
  • Scarborough – 45 miles
  • York – 52 miles

Note.

  1. All of these places would be in range of a fully-charged Hitachi battery electric train running to and from Hull.
  2. Of the destinations, only Bridlington and Scarborough, is not a fully-electrified station.
  3. One of the prerational problems in the area, is that due to a lack of electrification to the East of Neville Hall Depot, electric trains from York and Hull have difficulty reaching the depot. Trains with a battery capability won’t have this problem.
  4. Hull and Beverley and a lot of stations in the area, would only be served by electric trains, with a battery capability.

There would be a large decrease in pollution and emissions caused by passenger trains in the area.

Electrification Between Haxby And York

Consider.

  • York and Haxby are 4 miles apart.
  • York and Scarborough are 42 miles apart.
  • York and Beverley are 32 miles apart.

Note that unlike at Beverley, there is no need to electrify the end of the route, as trains can be charged in the turnround at York.

With a charging facility at Scarborough, the Class 802 trains of TransPennine Express could work this route if fitted with batteries.

Could Lightweight Electrification Be Used?

Electrification gantries like these have been proposed for routes, where the heavy main-line gantries would be too intrusive.

They could have a place in the rebuilding of lines like Beverley and York.

Trains Between York And Beverley

The UK’s railways need to be decarbonised before 2040.

As a train delivered today, would probably last forty years, I think it would be prudent to only introduce zero-carbon trains to the network, where they are able to run the proposed services.

There is no doubt in my mind, that all these local services in East Yorkshire could be run using battery-electric trains with a 56 mile range.

  • Hull and Doncaster
  • Hull and Leeds
  • Hull and Neville Hill Depot
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York via Beverley and Market Weighton
  • Hull and York via Selby
  • York and Scarborough

The only electrification needed would be as follows.

Electrification between Hull and Beverley.

Electrification of some platforms at Beverley and Hull stations.

Some form of charging at Scarborough.

Charging may also be needed at Bridlington station.

The trains needed for the route seem to fit Hitachi’s specification well and a Class 385 train to the following specification, would do a highly capable job.

  • Three or four-cars.
  • Batteries for a 56 mile range.
  • 90-100 mph operating speed.

I’m also sure that Bombardier, CAF and Stadler could also provide a suitable train.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used?

I feel that they could be used successfully and might enable cost savings on the substantial rebuilding of the route needed.

  • Lighter weight structures.
  • Single track with passing places.
  • Tramway electrification or battery.
  • Less vidual intrusion.
  • The service could also have more stops.

Perhaps too, it could go walkabout in Hull City Centre to take passengers to and from Hull station.

Conclusion

It is rebuilding the tracks between Beverley and York, that will be difficult in the reopening of this line, which with hindsight should have not been vandalised by British Rail.

But even, if the Beverley and York Line is not re-opened, it does look that if Beverley and Hull were to be electrified, it would enable a network of battery electric zero-carbon trains in East Yorkshire and allow battery electric trains to run between Kings Cross and Hull.

 

 

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments