The Anonymous Widower

GWR Buys Vehicles Outright In HST Fleet Expansion

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

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

These pictures show some of the Castle Class trains.

They must be profitable and/or popular with passengers.

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

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

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

Hopefully, this will mean less emissions.

The article says this about use of the fleet.

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

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

Are First Rail Holdings Cutting Carbon Emissions?

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

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

First Rail Holdings have these Class 800/802 fleets.

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Class 43 Power Cars Be Decarbonised?

Consider.

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

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

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

What methods could be used?

Biodiesel

Running the trains on biodiesel would be a simple solution.

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

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

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

The Addition Of Batteries

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

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

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

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

This paragraph talks about performance.

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

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

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

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

MTU Hybrid PowerPack

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

This must be a serious possibility.

Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW Generator

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

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

I conclude the section with this.

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

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

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

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

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

Answering My Original Question

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

Why Are GWR Increasing Their Castle Class Fleet?

These are possible reasons.

GWR Want To Increase Services

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

GWR Want To Update The Fleet

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

GWR Want To Partially Or Fully Decarbonise The Power Cars

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

GWR Have Been Made An Offer They Can’t Refuse

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

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

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

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

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

Northern Trains

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

Northern Trains may have other routes.

Transport for Wales Rail Services

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

The plan would be something like this.

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

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

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

These must be the front runners.

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

All would appear to be viable solutions.

 

 

 

 

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

Hitachi Rail To Acquire Perpetuum In Digital Expansion

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Hitachi Rail Ltd has agreed to acquire Southampton-based condition monitoring specialist Perpetuum as part of a strategy to strengthen the use of digital technology in rail operations.

Established as a university spin-off less than a decade ago, Perpetuum developed the use of bogie-mounted self-powered vibration sensors to monitor the condition of rolling stock. Wireless equipment fitted to around 3 000 vehicles operating across three continents sends back real-time data about the performance of wheelsets, gearboxes, motors and bogies.

It seems to me, that Hitachi have bought an interesting company.

Let’s hope they develop the technology, but keep that development in Southampton.

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Business, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Financing For 135 Hybrid Trainsets Agreed

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The European Investment Bank agreed a €450m financing package on July 23 which will support Trenitalia’s plans to order 135 electric-diesel-battery hybrid regional multiple-units at total cost of €960m.

The trains are from Hitachi’s Caravaggio family and will be built in their Italian plant at Pistoia. Their operation is described in this sentence.

They will use conventional overhead electrification where available, with ‘cutting-edge’ engines for operation onto non-electrified routes as well as batteries to eliminate emissions for the ‘last mile’ and in urban areas.

That sounds extremely sophisticated to me.

Is The Powertrain Technology Transferrable To The UK?

I have republished this post with a link to the original article, as it occurs to me, that Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway. LNER and other train operating companies could be in need of a train with a sophisticated Diesel/Electric/Battery Hybrid powertrain.

So will Hitachi be using a powertrain like this in the UK?

 

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

Electrifying Wales

I would not be surprised to learn that Wales wants to decarbonise their railways.

At present, Wales only has the following electrified railways either in operation or under construction.

  • The South Wales Main Line between the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
  • The South Wales Metro based on local railways around Cardiff and Newport is being created and will be run by electric trains.

There is no more electrification planned in the future.

Hitachi’s Specification For Battery Electric Trains

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic for their Regional Battery Train.

This gives all the information about the train and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

The Welsh Rail Network

If you look at the network of services that are run by Transport for Wales Rail Services, they connect a series of hub stations.

Major hubs include the following stations.

  • Cardiff Central – Electrified
  • Chester
  • Hereford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swansea

Smaller hubs and termini include the following stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Birmingham International – Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street – Electrified
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Carmarthen
  • Crewe – Electrified
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Hereford
  • Holyhead
  • Llandudno Junction
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified
  • Machynlleth
  • Milford Haven
  • Newport – Electrified
  • Pembroke Dock

Running Welsh Routes With Electric Trains

These routes make up the Welsh rail network.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Crewe and Chester are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Crewe stations.

Chester And Holyhead via Llandudno Junction

Consider.

  • All services between Llandudno Junction and England call at Chester.
  • All services running to and from Holyhead call at Llandudno Junction.
  • The route between Chester and Holyhead is without electrification.
  • Chester and Llandudno Junction are 54 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles can leave Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Holyhead stations.

Chester And Liverpool Lime Street

Consider.

  • The route between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Runcorn is without electrification.
  • Chester and Runcorn are 14 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Runcorn with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

Chester And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • The route between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay is without electrification.
  • Chester and Warrington Bank Quay are 18 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Warrington Bank Quay with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Manchester Airport stations.

Chester And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Chester and Shrewsbury are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Chester with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Shrewsbury stations.

Llandudno And Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The route between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog is without electrification.
  • Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations.

Machynlleth And Aberystwyth

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Aberystwyth are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth stations.

Machynlleth And Pwllheli

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Pwllheli is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Pwllheli are 58 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 58 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Pwllheli with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Pwllheli stations.

Machynlleth And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Shrewsbury with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury stations.

Shrewsbury and Birmingham International

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham International and Wolverhampton is electrified.
  • The route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton are 30 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

 Shrewsbury And Cardiff Central via Hereford

Consider.

  • All services between Cardiff Central and Shrewsbury call at Hereford.
  • The route between Cardiff Central and Newport is electrified.
  • The route between Newport and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Hereford are 51 miles apart.
  • Hereford and Newport are 44 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central stations.

Shrewsbury And Crewe

  • The route between Shrewsbury and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Crewe are 33 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Crewe stations.

Shrewsbury and Swansea

Consider.

  • The Heart of Wales Line between Shrewsbury and Swansea is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Swansea are 122 miles apart.
  • Trains cross at Llandrindod and wait for up to eleven minutes, so there could be time for a charge.
  • Shrewsbury and Llandrindod are 52 miles apart.
  • Swansea and Llandrindod are 70 miles apart.

It appears that another charging station between Swansea and Llandrindod is needed

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Swansea and the other charging station, with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Swansea stations.

Swansea And Cardiff Central

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Cardiff Central is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Cardiff Central are 46 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Cardiff Central with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Cardiff Central stations.

Swansea And Carmarthen

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Carmarthen is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Carmarthen with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Carmarthen stations.

Swansea And Fishguard Harbour

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Fishguard Harbour are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Fishguard Harbour are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Fishguard Harbour with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour stations.

Swansea And Milford Haven

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Milford Haven is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Milford Haven are 72 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Milford Haven are 41 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Milford Haven with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Milford Haven stations.

Swansea And Pembroke Dock

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Pembroke Dock is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Pembroke Dock are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Pembroke Dock with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Pembroke Dock stations.

Other Routes

I have not covered these routes.

  • Borderlands Line
  • Cardiff Valley Lines, that will be part of the South Wales Metro
  • Routes on the electrified South Wales Main Line, that are to the East of Cardiff.

The first will run between Chester and the electrified Merseyrail system and the others will be electrified, except for short stretches.

Stations Where Trains Would Be Charged

These stations will need charging facilities.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth station only has a single terminal platform.

I’ve not been to the station, but looking at pictures on the Internet, I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems.

Birmingham International

Birmingham International station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Blaenau Fflestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Cardiff

Cardiff station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Chester

Chester station has two through platforms and one bay platform, that are used by Trains for Wales.

  • The through platforms are bi-directional.
  • The bay platform is used by services from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  • The station is a terminus for Merseyrail’s electric trains, which use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Some through services stop for up to seven minutes in the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

The simplest way to charge trains at Chester would be to electrify the two through platforms 3 and 4 and the bay platform 1.

I would use 750 VDC third-rail, rather than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

I have a vague recollection, that there is an avoiding line at Chester station, so trains can go straight through. Perhaps that should be electrified too.

Carmarthen

Carmarthen station is a two platform station, with a rather unusual layout, that I wrote about in Changing Trains At Carmarthen Station.

I took these pictures when I passed through in 2016.

Note the unusual step-free crossing of the tracks.

This Google Map shows the layout at the station.

I believe it is another station, where third-rail electrification could be the solution.

  • Most trains seem to reverse at the station, which gives time for a full charge.
  • Others terminate here.

but would they still allow passengers to cross the line as they do now, whilst trains are being charged?

Crewe

Crewe station is fully-electrified.

  • Trains for Wales seem to use Platform 6 for through trains and the bay Platform 9 for terminating trains.
  • Both platforms appear to be electrified.
  • Terminating trains appear to wait at least 9-11 minutes before leaving.

It does appear that Crewe station is ready for battery-electric trains.

Fishguard Harbour

Fishguard Harbour station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Hereford

Hereford station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As with Chester, I would electrify this station with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.

But the electrification wouldn’t be just for train services in Wales.

  • West Midlands Trains, run an hourly service to Birmingham New Street and there is only a forty-one mile gap in the electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove.
  • Great Western Railway’s service to London, has a massive ninety-six mile run to the electrification at Didcot Junction, which could be bridged by installing charging facilities at Worcestershire Parkway and/or Honeybourne stations.

Both services have generous turnround times at Hereford, so would be able to leave fully-charged.

Distances from Hereford station are as follows.

  • Abergavenny – 24 miles
  • Bromsgrove – 41 miles
  • Great Malvern – 21 miles
  • Honeybourne – 48 miles
  • Ludlow – 13 miles
  • Newport – 44 miles
  • Shrewsbury – 51 miles
  • Worcester Parkway – 33 miles

Hereford station could be a serious battery-electric train hub.

Holyhead

Holyhead station has three terminals platforms.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Llandrindod

Llandrindod station has two through platforms.

I took these pictures at the station as I passed through in 2016.

The Heart of Wales Line is certainly a route, that would benefit from larger trains. Zero-carbon battery-electric trains would surely fit well in the area.

This Google Map shows the station.

It would appear that, it is another station, that could be fitted with third-rail electrification to charge the trains.

Distances from Llandrindod station are as follows.

  • Shrewsbury – 52 miles
  • Llandovery – 27 miles
  • Llanelli – 59 miles
  • Swansea – 70 miles

It would appear that a second station with charging facilities or bigger batteries are needed.

Llandudno Junction

Llandudno Junction station has four platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As at Chester, the simple solution would be to electrify the platforms used by trains, that will need charging.

Butb there may also be a wider plan.

Llandudno Junction station is at the Western end of a string of five closely-spaced stations with Prestatyn station in the East.

  • Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn are eight miles apart.
  • Trains take twenty-three minutes to pass through this section.
  • Some trains do a detour to Llandudno station before continuing.
  • For part of the route, the railway lies between the dual-carriageway A55 road and the sea.

So why not electrify this section of railway between Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn stations?

  • Either 750 VDC this-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Prestatyn and Chester are 46 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

If third-rail electrification were to be used, it might be advantageous to electrify to Llandudno station.

  • It would be less intrusive.
  • It would be quieter in an urban area.
  • It would give the trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog trains a good charge.

But above all third-rail electrification might cost a bit less and cause less disruption to install.

Machynlleth

Machynlleth station is where the Aberystwyth and Pwllheli services split and join.

This Google Map shows the station.

Consider.

  • There is a train depot by the station.
  • Will there be a good power supply at the station to charge the trains?
  • Machnylleth and Pwllhelli are 58 miles apart.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I think that Machynlleth might be pushing things too far, without extra stations with charging facilities.

One solution might be to develop the Riding Sunbeams concept and electrify the route between Newtown and Dovey Junction via Machynlleth, using third-rail technology powered-by solar or wind power.

Another solution would be batteries with a larger capacity.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Milford Haven

Milford Haven station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pembroke Dock

Pembroke Dock station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pwllheli

Pwhelli station is a only has a single terminal platform.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

The stsation is at the North West corner of the bay.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that I have to go.

So I took a closer look at the station instead.

I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems. Although, there might be a problem getting a good enough connection to the National Grid.

Shewsbury

Shrewsbury station is a five-platform station.

This Google Map shows the station’s unusual location over the River Severn.

It must be one of few stations in the world, where trains enter the station from three different directions.

  • From Crewe and Chester to the North.
  • From Hereford and Wales to the South.
  • From Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the East.

Adding electrification to all or selected platforms should allow trains to recharge and be on their way.

  • Under current timetables, dwell times in Shrewsbury are up to eight minutes.
  • I would suspect the train times could be adjusted, so that trains left the station with full batteries.

With battery-electric services to Aberystwyth, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Chester, Crewe, Hereford, Holyhead, London Euston, Manchester, Pwllheli and Swansea, it will be a very important station.

Swansea

Swansea station has four terminal platforms.

A charging facility could be added to an appropriate number of platforms.

Or perhaps, the last few miles of track into the station should be electrified, so trains could charge on the way in, charge in the station and charge on the way out.

Third Rail Electrification

I have suggested in this post, that 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used in several places.

I will repeat what I said earlier, when discussing Chester station.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

Third-rail electrification should be seriously considered.

A Standardised Terminal Solution

In this post, I mentioned that the following stations could be powered by a scandalised solution, as they are all one platform, terminal stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Holyhead
  • Milford Haven
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pwllheli

The system might also be applicable at Carmarthen and Swansea.

My view is that Vivarail’s Fast Track charging based on third-rail technology would be ideal. I discussed this technology in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Conclusion

With a bit of ingenuity, all train services run by Transport for Wales, can be run with battery-electric trains.

 

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains

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

This is the introductory sub-title.

Hyperdrive Innovation and Hitachi Rail are to develop battery packs to power trains and create a battery hub in the North East of England.

The article gives this information.

  • Trains can have a range of ninety kilometres, which fits well with Hitachi’s quoted battery range of 55-65 miles.
  • Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients.

Hitachi have also provided an  informative video.

At one point, the video shows a visualisation of swapping a diesel-engine for a battery pack.

As a world-class computer programmer in a previous life, I believe that it is possible to create a battery pack, that to the train’s extremely comprehensive computer, looks like a diesel-engine.

So by modifying the train’s software accordingly, the various power sources of electrification, diesel power-packs and battery packs can be used in an optimum manner.

This would enable one of East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains, to be fitted with a mix of diesel and battery packs in their four positions under the train.

Imagine going between London and Sheffield, after the High Speed Two electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield has been erected.

  • Between St. Pancras and Market Harborough power would come from the electrification.
  • The train would leave the electrified section with full batteries
  • At all stations on the route, hotel power would come from the batteries.
  • Diesel power and some battery power would be used between stations. Using them together may give better performance.
  • At Clay Cross North Junction, the electrification would be used to Sheffield.

For efficient operation, there would need to be electrification or some form of charging at the Sheffield end of the route. This is why, I am keen that when High Speed Two is built in the North, that the shsared section with the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, should be built early.

Hitachi have said that these trains will have four diesel engines. I think it will more likely be two diesel engines and two batteries.

The World’s First Battery-Electric Main Line

I suspect with electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, that a train fitted with four batteries, might even be able to run on electric power only on the whole route.

In addition, if electrification were to be erected between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations, all three Northern destinations would become electric power only.

The Midland Main Line would be the first battery electric high speed line in the world!

Hitachi On Hydrogen Trains

The press release about the partnership between Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation is on this page on the Hitachi web site.

This is a paragraph.

Regional battery trains produce zero tailpipe emission and compatible with existing rail infrastructure so they can complement future electrification. At the moment, battery trains have approximately 50% lower lifecycle costs than hydrogen trains, making battery the cheapest and cleanest alternative zero-emission traction solution for trains.

I have ridden in two battery-electric trains and one hydrogen-powered train.

I would rate them out of ten as follows.

It’s not that the iLint is a bad train, as the power system seems to work well, but the passenger experience is nowhere near the quality of the two battery trains.

In my view, battery vehicles are exceedingly quiet, so is this the reason?

On the other hand, it could just be poor engineering on the iLint.

Conclusion

This is as very big day in the development of zero- and low-carbon trains in the UK.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

£35m Station Transformation Launched By Tees Valley Mayor

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has announced (June 9th) a £35m transformation of Middlesbrough Station to transport more train services to the town, including the first direct rail link to London in decades.

The Rail Technology Magazine article indicates that Platform 2 at Middlesbrough station will be extended to handle Azuma trains. As the current platform looks to be around 150 metres long and this would be long enough for a five-car train, does this mean that in the future nine-car and ten-car Azumas will be able to run services to Middlesbrough?

Currently, LNER run one train per two hours (tp2h) between London and York. Could some or all of these trains be extended to Middlesbrough?

  • TransPennines’ trains between York and Middlesbrough take fifty-eight minutes, but they are timed for slower Class 185 trains.
  • I would expect faster Class 800 trains could go between York and Middlesbrough and back to York in under a convenient two hours.
  • In addition, the lengthened Platform 2 at Middlesbrough would allow longer trains on the service between London and York to turn back at Middlesbrough.
  • As the York service, which has a frequency of 1tp2h shares a path with the Lincoln service of a similar frequency, there must be the possibility to run a 1tp2h between Kings Cross and Middlesbrough.
  • The same path is also used to run one train per day (tpd) to and from Hull.
  • It should also be noted that all Class 800 trains have the ability to split and join together in under two minutes.

There would appear to be a large amount of scope to develop a comprehensive timetable between Kings Cross and Hull, Lincoln and Middlesbrough.

  • If the first train left at 07:06 and the last at 22:06, there could be sixteen trains per day on the Kings Cross and Lincoln, Hull, York and Middlesbrough route.
  • Each train could be two five-car trains that split and joined en route, which means there would be a total of 32 tpd.
  • If five tpd went to both Lincoln and Middlesbrough and perhaps three tpd to Hull, that would leave nineteen tpd trains for other destinations.
  • As many trains as possible would need to call at York.

I can certainly see extra destinations built into a intricate pattern in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and County Durham.

  • Nottingham could be served from Newark.
  • Grimsby and Cleethorpes could be served by extending services from Lincoln.
  • Sheffield, Hull, Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Cleethorpes could be serves from Doncaster.
  • Scarborough could be served from York.
  • Washington and Newcastle could be served on an alternative route using a reopened Leamside Line.
  • Sunderland could be served by extending services from Middlesbrough along the Durham Coast Line.
  • Saltburn and Redcar could be served by extending services from Middlesbrough.

Splitting and joining could occur at the following stations.

  • Newark for Nottingham and Lincoln, Grimsby and Cleethorpes
  • Doncaster for Sheffield, Hull and Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
  • York for Scarborough and Middlesbrough.
  • Middlesbrough for Sunderland and Redcar and Saltburn

Middlesbrough station would need to be able to take two five-car trains for splitting and joining, so the platform extension is required.

Kings Cross and Middlesbrough Could Be A Zero-Carbon Route

In Could Some of Hitachi’s Existing Trains In The UK Be Converted To Battery-Electric Trains?, I indicated that as Middlesbrough station is only 21 miles and 29 minutes from Northallerton and the East Coast Main Line, that a five-car Azuma train converted to battery-electric operation should be able to run between Middlesbrough and Kings Cross, totally on electric power, which would be zero-carbon, if the electricity were to be renewable.

 

 

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Some of Hitachi’s Existing Trains In The UK Be Converted To Battery-Electric Trains?

The last five fleets of AT-300 trains ordered for the UK have been.

Each fleet seems to be tailored to the needs of the individual operator, which is surely as it should be.

I can make some observations.

Fast Electric Trains

Both electric fleets on the list, will run on routes, where speed will be important.

  • The Avanti West Coast fleet on the West Coast Main Line, will have to be able to keep up keep with the Class 390 trains, that have the advantage of tilt for more speed.
  • The East Coast Trains fleet on the East Coast Main Line, will have to work hard to maintain a demanding schedule, as I outlined in Thoughts On East Coast Trains.

Any reduction in weight will improve the acceleration.

  • The seven tonne MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines can be removed to reduce the weight.
  • As a five-car Class 800 train with three diesel engine weighs 243 tonnes, this could save nearly 9 % of the train’s weight.
  • East Coast Trains feel they need an appropriately-sized battery for emergency hotel power. Could this be because the catenary is not as good on the East Coast Main Line as on the West?
  • Perhaps, Avanti West Coast feel a battery is not needed, but they could obviously fit one later. Especially, if there was already a ready-wired position underneath the train.

The extra acceleration given by 100% electric operation, must make all the difference in obtaining the required performance for the two routes.

Why Four Diesel Engines In A Class 810 Train?

The Class 810 trains are an update of the current Class 800/Class 802 trains. Wikipedia described the differences like this.

The Class 810 is an evolution of the Class 802s with a revised nose profile and facelifted end headlight clusters, giving the units a slightly different appearance. Additionally, there will be four diesel engines per five-carriage train (versus three on the 800s and 802s), and the carriages will be 2 metres (6.6 ft) shorter due to platform length constraints at London St Pancras.

Additionally, in this article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, this is said.

The EMR bi-modes will be able to run at 125 mph in diesel mode, matching Meridian performance in a step-up from the capabilities of the existing Class 80x units in service with other franchises.

The four diesel engines would appear to be for more power, so that these trains will be able to run at 125 mph on diesel.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a Class 801 train, which is all-electric, consumes 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

  • At 125 mph a train will in an hour travel 125 miles.
  • In that hour the train will need 125 x 5 x 3.42 = 2137.5 kWh
  • This means that the total power of the four diesel engines must be 2137.5,
  • Divide 2137.5 by four and each diesel must be rated at 534.4 kW to provide the power needed.

The MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engine is described in this datasheet on the MTU web site.

Note on the datasheet, there is a smaller variant of the same engine called a 12V 1600 R70, which has a power output of 565 kW, as compared to the 700 kW of the 12V 1600 R80L.

The mass of the engines are probably at the limits of the range given on the datasheet.

  • Dry – 4500-6500 Kg
  • Wet – 4700-6750 Kg

It would appear that the less-powerful 12V 100 R70 is about two tonnes lighter.

So where will four engines be placed in a Class 810 train?

  • The five-car Class 800 and Class 802 trains have diesel-engines in cars 2, 3 and 4.
  • The nine-car Class 800 and Class 802 trains have diesel-engines in cars 2,3, 5, 7 and 8.
  • It appears that diesel-engines aren’t placed under the driver cars.
  • Five-car AT-300 trains generally have a formation of DPTS+MS+MS+MC+DPTF.
  • The car length in the Class 810 trains are two metres shorter than those in other trains.

Could it be that the intermediate cars on Class 810 trains will be an MC car, which has both First and Standard Class seating and two identical MS cars both with two smaller diesel engines?

  • The two smaller diesel engines will be about 2.6 tonnes heavier, than a single larger engine.
  • Only one fuel tank and other gubbins will be needed.
  • The shorter car will be lighter in weight.
  • MTU may have designed a special diesel engine to power the train.

I would suspect that a twin-engined MS car is possible.

Could The Battery And The Diesel Engine Be Plug-Compatible?

I found this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-Speed Rolling Stock For UK Intercity Express Programme.

The document may date from 2014, but it gives a deep insight into the design of Hitachi’s trains.

I will take a detailed look at the traction system as described in the document.

This schematic of the traction system is shown.

Note BC is described as battery charger.

This is said in the text, where GU is an abbreviation for generator unit.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

This is all very comprehensive.

Note that the extract says, that both the Class 800 trains and Class 801 trains have the same traction control system. A section called Operation in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 802 train, outlines the differences between a Class 802 train and a Class 800 train.

The Class 802s are broadly identical to the Class 800 bi-mode trains used in the Intercity Express Programme, and are used in a similar way; they run as electric trains where possible, and are equipped with the same diesel generator engines as the Class 800. However, they utilise higher engine operating power – 700 kW (940 hp) per engine as opposed to 560 kW (750 hp) – and are fitted with larger fuel tanks to cope with the gradients and extended running in diesel mode expected on the long unelectrified stretches they will operate on.

I would assume that the differences are small enough, so that a Class 802 train, can use the same traction control system, as the other two train classes.

The Hitachi document also describes the Train Management and Control System (TCMS), the function of which is described as.

Assists the work of the train crew; a data communication function that aids maintenance work; and a traction drive system that is powered by the overhead lines (catenaries) and GUs.

Several trains have been described as computers on wheels. That could certainly be said about these trains.

There would appear to be a powerful Automatic Train Identification Function.

To simplify the rearrangement and management of train configurations, functions are provided for identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically determining the cars in the trainset and its total length, and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

Now that would be a site – One nine-car train rescuing another!

I would assume that this Automatic Train Identification Function has already been updated to add the Class 802 trains and it would appear to me, as a very experienced computer programmer, that in future it could be further updated to cater for the following.

  • New classes of trains like the future Class 803 and Class 810 trains.
  • The fitting of batteries instead of diesel engines.

Could the Function even be future-proofed for hydrogen power?

There are two main ways for trains to operate when the diesel engine in a car has been replaced by a battery.

  1. A plug-compatible battery module is designed, that in terms of function looks exactly like a diesel engine to the TCMS and through that the train crew.
  2. The car with a battery becomes a new type of car and the TCMS is updated to control it, in an appropriate manner.

Both methods are equally valid.

I would favour the first method, as I have come across numerous instances in computer programming, engineering and automation, where the method has been used successfully.

The method used would be Hitachi’s choice.

What Size Of Battery Could Be Fitted In Place Of The Diesel Engine?

Consider.

  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • My engineering knowledge would suggest, that it would be possible to replace the diesel engine with an inert lump of the same mass and not affect the dynamics of the train.

So could it be that a plug-compatible battery module can be fitted, so long as it doesn’t exceed the mass of the diesel engine it replaces?

For an existing Class 800 or Class 802 train, that limit could be seven tonnes.

But for East Coast Train’s Class 803 train, that size would probably be decided by the required train performance.

How much power would a one tonne battery hold?

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

Using these figures, a one-tonne battery would be between 100 and 265 kWh in capacity, depending on the energy density.

This table can be calculated of battery weight, low capacity and high capacity.

  • 1 tonne – 100 kWh – 265 kWh
  • 2 tonne – 200 kWh – 530 kWh
  • 3 tonne – 300 kWh – 895 kWh
  • 4 tonne – 400 kWh – 1060 kWh
  • 5 tonne – 500 kWh – 1325 kWh
  • 6 tonne – 600 kWh – 1590 kWh
  • 7 tonne – 700 kWh – 1855 kWh

As energy densities are only going to improve, the high capacity figures are only going to get larger.

If you look at the design of the Class 810 trains, which could have three positions for diesel engines or batteries, the designers of the train and East Coast Trains can choose the battery size as appropriate for the following.

  • Maximum performance.
  • Power needs when halted in stations.
  • Power needs for emergency power, when the wires come tumbling down.

I suspect, they will fit only one battery, that is as small as possible to minimise mass and increase acceleration, but large enough to provide sufficient power, when needed.

Conversion Of A Five-Car Class 800/Class 802 Train To Battery-Electric Operation

If Hitachi get their design right, this could be as simple as the following.

  • Any of the three MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines is removed, from the train.
  • Will the other diesel related gubbins, like the fuel tank be removed? They might be left in place, in case the reverse conversion should be needed.
  • The new battery-module is put in the diesel engine’s slot.
  • The train’s computer system are updated.
  • The train is tested.

It should be no more difficult than attaching a new device to your personal computer. Except that it’s a lot heavier.

As there are three diesel engines, one, two or three could be replaced with batteries.

Trains would probably be able to have a mixture of diesel engines and battery modules.

A Class 802 train with one diesel engine and two five-tonne batteries would have the following power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • A 700 kW diesel engine.
  • Two five-tonne batteries of between 500 kWh and 1325 kWh.

With intelligent software controlling the various power sources, this train could have a useful range, away from the electrification.

Conversion Of A Five-Car Class 810 Train To Battery-Electric Operation

The process would be similar to that of a Class 800/Class 802 Train, except there would be more possibilities with four engines.

It would also need to have sufficient range to bridge the gaps in the electrification.

Perhaps each train would have the following power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Two 565 kW diesel engines.
  • Two four-tonne batteries of between 400 kWh and 1060 kWh.
  • Batteries might also be placed under the third intermediate car.

I estimate that with 400 kWh batteries, a train like this would have a battery range of sixty-five miles.

Conclusion

The permutations and combinations would allow trains to be tailored to the best compromise for a train operating company.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Timeline Of Hitachi’s Statements And News About Battery Trains

These are posts on this blog, that reference articles about Hitachi and battery trains.

21st November 2018 – Hitachi’s Thoughts On Battery Trains – Modern Railways Modern Railways January 2018 – Candid interview with Nick Hughes of Hitachi.

21st March 2019 – Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service – Railway Gazette – Announcement of service, but no mention of batteries, diesel or bi-mode.

26th March 2019 – Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires – Rail Engineer – Batteries for Class 385 trains.

1st January 2020 – Hitachi Trains For Avanti – Modern Railway January 2020 – The Hitachi trains for Avanti West Coast can be fitted with batteries, if required.

16th February 2020 – Sparking A Revolution – Rail Magazine Issue 898 – Informative interview with Andrew Barr of Hitachi.

16th April 2020 – First of Five FirstGroup Class 803s Arrives In UK – Rail Magazine Issue 903 – Disclosure that the Class 803 trains will use a battery instead of diesel power for on-board services, but not traction power.

Hitachi seem to have opened up gradually with more information.

June 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment