The Anonymous Widower

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric

Consider.

  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.

Note.

  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York and Durham
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common and York.

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line, as against High Speed Two, which will be a 225 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.

Conclusion

I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?

The latest High Speed Two schedule was published in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Two Train Classes

Two separate train classes have been proposed for High Speed Two.

Full-Size – Wider and taller trains built to a European loading gauge, which would be confined to the high-speed network (including HS1 and HS2) and other lines cleared to their loading gauge.

Classic-Compatible – Conventional trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two has a section entitled Rolling Stock, where this is said about the design.

Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 360 km/h (225 mph) and a length of 200 metres (660 ft); two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train. It has been reported that these longer trains would have approximately 1,100 seats.

These are some of my thoughts.

Seating Density

I would assume that this means that a single 200 metre train, will have a capacity of approximately 550 seats or a density of 2.75 seats per metre. How does that compare with other trains?

  • 9-car Class 801 train – 234 metres – 611 seats – 2.61 seats/metre
  • 7-car Class 807 train – 182 metres – 453 seats – 2.49 seats/metre
  • 9-car Class 390 train  – 217.5 metres – 469 seats – 2.16 seats/metre
  • 11-car Class 390 train  – 265.3 metres – 589 seats – 2.22 seats/metre
  • 12-car Class 745/1 train – 236.6 metres – 767 seats – 3.24 seats/metre
  • 16-car Class 374 train – 390 metres – 902 seats – 2.31 seats/metre

What I find strange with these figures, is that I feel most crowded and cramped in a Class 390 train. Could this be because the Pendelino trains are eighteen years old and train interior design has moved on?

But I always prefer to travel in a Hitachi Class 80x train or a Stadler Class 745 train.

I very much feel that a seating density of 2.75 seats per metre, designed using some of the best modern practice, could create a train, where travelling is a very pleasant experience.

Step-Free Access

I have travelled in high speed trains all over Europe and have yet to travel in one with step-free access.

Surely, if Stadler can give their trains step-free access everybody can.

The pictures shows step-free access on Stadler Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

If I turned up pushing a friend in a wheelchair, would I be able to push them in easily? Or better still will they be able to wheel themselves in?

A Greater Anglia driver once said to me, that they never have to wait anymore for wheelchairs to be loaded.

So surely, it is in the train operator’s interest to have step-free access, if it means less train delays.

Double-Deck Trains

In my view double-deck trains only have one only good feature and that is the ability to see everything, if you have a well-designed window seat.

I may be seventy-three, but I am reasonably fit and only ever travel on trains with airline-sized hand baggage. So I don’t find any problem travelling upstairs on a double-deck bus or train!

But it could have been, so very different, if my stroke had been a bit worse and left me blind or in a wheelchair for life.

I have seen incidents on the Continent, which have been caused by double-deck trains.

  • A lady of about eighteen in trying to get down with a heavy case dropped it. Luckily it only caused the guy she was travelling with, to roll unhurt down the stairs.
  • Luggage is often a problem on Continental trains because of the step-up into the train and access is worse on double deck trains.
  • I also remember on a train at Leipzig, when several passengers helped me lift a guy and his wheelchair out of the lower deck of a double-deck train, which was lower than the platform, as they often are with double-deck trains.

I am not totally against double-deck trains, but they must be designed properly.

Consider.

  • High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains will only use London Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.
  • All stations used by Full-Size trains will be brand-new or substantially rebuilt stations.
  • Someone sitting in a wheelchair surely has the same right to a view from the top-deck of a double-deck train as anybody else.
  • Jumbo jets seemed to do very well without a full-length top-deck.
  • The A 380 Superjumbo has been designed so that entry and exit on both decks is possible.

I feel if High Speed Two want to run double-deck trains, an elegant solution can surely be found.

A Crude Estimate On The Number Of Trains

This is my crude estimate to find out how many trains, High Speed Two will need.

Western Leg

These are the services for the Western Leg between London , Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Train 1 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Lancaster – Classic Compatible – 2 hours 3 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 34 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 5 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 34 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 6 – London Euston and Macclesfield – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 30 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 8 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 9 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 48 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 40 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 48 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 40 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 12 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh or Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 20 minutes – 7 hour Round Trip – 7 trains
  • Train 13 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size – 41 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 14 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size – 41 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains

Note.

  1. I have assumed 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. I think that trains 4 and 5 work an intricate dance with appropriate splitting and joining at Crewe.
  3. The full schedule will need 34 Full-Size trains and 56 Classic-Compatible trains

According to Wikipedia, the first order will be for 54 Classic-Compatible trains, so I would assume, that more trains will be ordered.

Eastern Leg

These are the services for the Eastern Leg between London , Birmingham, East Midlands Hub, Leeds, Sheffield, York and Newcastle.

  • Train 15 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre Full-Size – 49 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 16 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre Full-Size – 49 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 17 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 57 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 18 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 27 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 18 – London Euston and Leeds – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 3 trains
  • Train 19 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 20 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 21 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 27 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 21 – London Euston and York – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 24 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 3 trains
  • Train 22 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 2 hour 17 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 23 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 2 hour 17 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains

Note.

  1. I have assumed 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. Trains 15 and 16 work as a pair
  3. I think that trains 18 and 21 work an intricate dance with appropriate splitting and joining at East Midlands Hub.
  4. The full schedule will need 16 Full-Size trains and 29 Classic-Compatible trains

Adding the two legs together and I estimate that 50 Full-Size trains and 85 Classic-Compatible trains, will be needed to run a full schedule.

Trains Per Hour On Each Section

It is possible to make a table of how many trains run on each section of the High Speed Two network in trains per hour (tph)

  • London Euston (stops) – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • London Euston and Old Oak Common – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Old Oak Common (stops) – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Birmingham Interchange (stops) – 2, 3, 7, 11, 20 – 5 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street (stops) – 1-3, 12-14, 15-17 – 9 tph
  • Birmingham and Crewe – 4,5, 7-9, 10-14 – 10 tph
  • Crewe (stops) – 4,5 – 2 tph
  • Crewe and Liverpool – 4,5 – 2 tph
  • Crewe and Lancaster – 4, 10-12 – 4 tph
  • Crewe and Manchester – 7-9, 13, 14 – 5 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via Warrington – 4 – 1 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via High Speed Two (new route) – 10-12 – 3 tph
  • Lancaster (stops) 4 – 1 tph
  • Lancaster and Carlisle  – 10-12 – 3 tph
  • Carlisle and Edinburgh – 10-12 – 2.5 tph
  • Carlisle and Glasgow – 10-12 – 2.5 tph
  • Birmingham and Stoke – 6 – 1 tph
  • Stoke (stops) – 6 – 1 tph
  • Stoke and Macclesfield – 6 – 1 tph
  • Macclesfield (stops) – 6 – 1 tph
  • Birmingham and East Midlands Hub – 15-17, 18-20, 21-23 – 9 tph
  • East Midlands Hub (stops) – 15-17, 18-20, 21 – 7 tph
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield – 18, 21 – 2 tph
  • Sheffield (stops) – 18, 21 – 2 tph
  • Midlands Hub and Leeds – 15, 16, 18-20 – 5 tph
  • Leeds (stops) – 15, 16, 18-20 – 5 tph
  • East Midlands Hub and York – 17, 21-23 – 4 tph
  • York (stops) – 17, 21-23 – 4 tph
  • York and Newcastle – 17, 22, 23 – 3 tph
  • Newcastle (stops) – 17, 22, 23 – 3 tph

These are a few thoughts.

Capacity Of The Southern Leg

The busiest section is between London Euston and Birmingham Interchange, which handles 17 tph.

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives a path for recovery, according to the article.

Trains Serving Euston

The following train types serve London Euston station.

  • Full-Size – 8 tph
  • 400 metre Classic-Compatible – 5 tph
  • 200 metre Classic-Compatible – 4 tph

As a 200 metre long train needs the same track and platform resources as a 400 metre long train, by splitting and joining, it would appear that extra destinations could be served.

Platform Use At Euston

This page on the High Speed Two web site, gives details of Euston High Speed Two station.

HS2 will deliver eleven new 400m long platforms, a new concourse and improved connections to Euston and Euston Square Underground stations. Our design teams are also looking at the opportunity to create a new northerly entrance facing Camden Town as well as new east-west links across the whole station site.

So how will the eleven platforms be used?

Destinations served from London are planned to be as follows.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • Lancaster – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Leeds – Full-Size – 2 tph – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

Liverpool – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph

  • Macclesfield – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • Sheffield – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • York – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

That is ten destinations and there will be eleven platforms.

I like it! Lack of resources is often the reason systems don’t work well and there are certainly enough platforms.

Could platforms be allocated something like this?

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – Full-Size
  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible
  • Leeds – Full-Size
  • Liverpool – Classic-Compatible – Also serves Lancaster
  • Macclesfield – Classic-Compatible
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible
  • Sheffield – Classic-Compatible – Also serves Leeds and York

Note.

  1. No  platform handles more than three tph.
  2. There are three spare platforms.
  3. Each platform would only be normally used by one train type.
  4. Only Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub, Leeds, Preston and York are not always served from the same platform.

Platform arrangements could be very passenger- and operator-friendly.

Platform Use At Birmingham Curzon Street

Birmingham Curzon Street station has been designed to have seven platforms.

Destinations served from Birmingham Curzon Street station are planned to be as follows.

  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Leeds – Full-Size – 2 tph
  • London Euston – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size – 2 tph
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Nottingham – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

Note.

  1. The Nottingham service has been proposed by Midlands Engine Rail, but will be running High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  2. That is six destinations and there will be seven platforms.

I like it! For the same reason as London Euston.

Could platforms be allocated something like this?

  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible
  • Leeds – Full-Size
  • London Euston – Full-Size
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size
  • Newcastle/Nottingham – Classic-Compatible

Note.

  1. No  platform handles more than three tph.
  2. There are two spare platforms.
  3. Each platform would only be normally used by one train type.
  4. Only East Midlands Hub is not always served from the same platform.

Platform arrangements could be very passenger- and operator-friendly.

Back-to-Back Services via Birmingham Curzon Street

The current plan for High Speed Two envisages the following services between the main terminals served by Full-Size trains.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 tph – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and Leeds – 2 tph – 81 minutes
  • London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly – 3 tph – 71 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 2 tph – 40 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly – 2 tph – 41 minutes

Suppose a traveller wanted to go between East Midlands Hub and Manchester Airport stations.

Wouldn’t it be convenient if the Leeds to Birmingham Curzon Street train, stopped in Birmingham Curzon Street alongside the train to Manchester Airport and Piccadilly, so passengers could just walk across?

Or the two services could be run Back-to-Back with a reverse in Birmingham Curzon Street station?

Note.

  1. The current fastest times between Nottingham and Manchester Airport stations are around two-and-a-half hours, with two changes.
  2. With High Speed Two, it looks like the time could be under the hour, even allowing up to eight minutes for the change at Birmingham Curzon Street.

The design of the track and stations for High Speed Two, has some interesting features that will be exploited by the train operator, to provide better services.

Capacity Of The Western Leg Between Birmingham And Crewe

The section is between Birmingham and Crewe, will be running 10 tph.

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

High Speed One copes well with a few interlopers in the shape of Southeastern’s Class 395 trains, which run at 140 mph, between the Eurostars.

High Speed Two is faster, but what is to stop an operator running their own Classic-Compatible trains on the following routes.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Liverpool via Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Holyhead via Crewe, Chester and an electrified North Wales Coast Line.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Blackpool via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Blackburn and Burnley via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.

Note.

  1. If these trains were say 130 metres long, they could call at all stations, without any platform lengthening.
  2. I’m sure that the clever engineers at Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation could come up with battery electric Classic-Compatible train, that could run at 225 mph on High Speed Two and had a battery range to reach Holyhead, with a small amount of electrification.
  3. A pair of trains, could work the last two services with a Split/Join at Preston.

The advantages of terminating these service in Birmingham Curzon Street would be as follows.

  • A lot more places get a fast connection to the High Speed Two network.
  • Passengers can reach London with an easy change at Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • They can also walk easily between the three Birmingham stations.

But the big advantage is the trains don’t use valuable paths on High Speed Two between Birmingham Curzon Street and London Euston.

Crewe Station

In the current Avanti West Coast timetable, the following trains pass through Crewe.

  • London Euston and Blackpool – 4 trains per day (tpd)
  • London Euston and Chester – 1 tph
  • London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Liverpool – 1 tph
  • London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph

Most trains stop at Crewe.

In the proposed High Speed Two timetable, the following trains will pass through Crewe.

  • London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Lancaster/Liverpool – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Manchester – 3 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh/Glasgow  -1 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 2 tph

Note.

  1. Only the Lancaster and Liverpool trains stop at Crewe station.
  2. North of Crewe there will be a three-way split of High Speed Two routes to Liverpool, Wigan and the North and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  3. High Speed Two will loop to the East and then join the West Coast Main Line to the South of Wigan.
  4. High Speed Two trains will use the West Coast Main Line to the North of Wigan North Western station.

This map of High Speed Two in North West England was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

 

 

Note.

  1. The current West Coast Main Line (WCML) and Phase 2a of High Speed Two are shown in blue.
  2. Phase 2b of High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  3. The main North-South route, which is shown in blue, is the WCML passing through Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western as it goes North.
  4. The Western Branch, which is shown in blue, is the Liverpool Branch of the WCML, which serves Runcorn and Liverpool.
  5. High Speed Two, which is shown in orange, takes a faster route between Crewe and Wigan North Western.
  6. The Eastern Branch, which is shown in orange, is the Manchester Branch of High Speed Two, which serves Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  7. The route in the East, which is shown in blue, is the Macclesfield Branch of High Speed Two, which serves Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield.

The route of Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester Airport and Liverpool has still to be finalised.

Liverpool Branch

Consider.

  • The Liverpool Branch will take  two tph between London Euston and Liverpool.
  • In the future it could take up to 6 tph on Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.

I believe that Liverpool Lime Street station, after the recent updating can handle all these trains.

Manchester Branch

This document on the Government web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation.

It indicates two important recently-made changes to the design of the Manchester Branch of High Speed Two.

  • Manchester Airport station will have four High Speed platforms instead of two.
  • Manchester Piccadilly station will have six High Speed platforms instead of four.

These changes will help the use of these stations by Northern Powerhouse Rail..

Consider.

  • The Manchester Branch will be new high speed track, which will probably be built in a tunnel serving Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • The Manchester Branch will terminate in new platforms.
  • The Manchester Branch will take  five tph between Birmingham Curzon Street or London Euston and Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • In the future it could take up to six tph on Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.
  • London Euston and Old Oak Common will be new stations on a tunnelled approach to London and will handle 18 tph.

If London Euston and Old Oak Common can handle 18 tph, I can’t see why Manchester Airport and Piccadilly stations can’t handle somewhere near a similar number of trains.

At the moment eleven tph have been allocated to the Manchester Branch.

I believe that if infrastructure for Northern Powerhouse Rail was designed so that as well as connecting to Manchester and Liverpool, it connected Manchester and the West Coast Main Line running North to Preston, Carlisle and Scotland, services to the following destinations would be possible.

  • Barrow
  • Blackburn
  • Blackpool
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Windermere

Note.

  1. Edinburgh and Glasgow would probably be a service that would alternate the destination, as it is proposed for High Speed Two’s Birmingham and Scotland service.
  2. There would probably be a need for a North Wales and Manchester service via Chester.
  3. All trains would be Classic-Compatible.

If the Manchester Branch were to be built to handle 18 tph, there would be more than enough capacity.

Crewe, Wigan And Manchester

My summing up earlier gave the number of trains between Crewe, Wigan and Manchester as follows.

  • Crewe and Manchester – 5 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via Warrington  – 1 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via High Speed Two (new route) – 3 tph

This map of High Speed Two where the Manchester Branch leaves the new High Speed Two route between Crewe and Wigan was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The Manchester Branch runs to the South of the M56,
  2. The large blue dot indicates Manchester Airport station.
  3. Wigan is to the North.
  4. Crewe is to the South.
  5. Manchester Piccadilly is to the North East.

I believe this junction will be turned into a full triangular junction, to connect Wigan directly to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.

  • Barrow, Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston and Windermere could all have high speed connections to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. Trains could be shorter Classic-Compatible trains.
  • A Manchester and Scotland service would take the same route.

Another pair of tracks could leave the junction to the West to create a direct route between Manchester Airport and Liverpool for Northern Powerhouse Rail, by sneaking along the  M56.

Suppose extra services were as follows.

  • Manchester and Barrow – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Blackburn – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Blackpool – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Liverpool – 6 tph
  • Manchester and Scotland – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Windermere – 1 tph

The frequencies from the junction would be as follows.

  • To and from Crewe – High Speed Two (Manchester) – 5 tph – High Speed Two (North) – 3 tph = 8 tph
  • To and from Liverpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail – 6 tph = 6 tph
  • To and from Manchester – High Speed Two – 5 tph – Northern Powerhouse Rail – 6 tph – Local – 4 tph – Scotland – 1 tph = 16 tph
  • To and from Wigan – High Speed Two – 3 tph – Local – 4 tph – Scotland – 1 tph = 8 tph.

Only the Manchester Branch would be working hard.

The Liverpool Connection

I indicated that another pair of tracks would need to extend the Manchester Branch towards Liverpool in the West for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • Would these tracks have a station at Warrington?
  • Would there be a connection to allow services between Liverpool and the North and Scotland?

It might even be possible to design a Liverpool connection, that avoided using the current Liverpool Branch and increased the capacity and efficiency of all trains to Liverpool.

Capacity Of The Western Leg Between Wigan And Scotland

The sections between  Crewe and Carlisle, will be running at the following frequencies.

  • Wigan and Lancaster – 4 tph
  • Lancaster and Carlisle  – 3 tph
  • Carlisle and Edinburgh  – 2.5 tph
  • Carlisle and Glasgow – 2.5 tph

Note.

  1. The unusual Scottish frequencies are caused by splitting and joining at Carlisle and alternate services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  2. Any local high speed services and a Scotland service from Manchester, will increase the frequencies.

Over this section the services will be running on an improved West Coast Main Line.

But in some cases the trains will be replacing current services, so the increase in total frequencies will be less than it first appears.

Avanti West Coast currently run the following Scottish services.

  • One tph – London Euston and Glasgow via the most direct route.
  • One tph – London Euston and alternately Edinburgh and Glasgow via Birmingham.

This means that effectively Glasgow has 1.5 tph and Edinburgh 0.5 tph from London Euston.

The capacity of the current eleven-car Class 390 trains is 145 First and 444 Standard Class seats, which compares closely with the 500-600 seats given in Wikipedia for High Speed Two trains. So the capacity of the two trains is not that different.

But High Speed Two will be running 2.5 tph Between London Euston and both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

I would expect, that Class 390 services to Scotland will be discontinued and replaced by High Speed Two services.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between Birmingham And East Midlands Hub

The section is between Birmingham and East Midlands Hub, will be running 9 tph

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

Midlands Engine Rail is proposing a service between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham.

  • It will have a frequency of one tph.
  • It will be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.
  • The journey will take 33 minutes.
  • It will run on High Speed Two infrastructure between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.

If High Speed Two has been designed with this service in mind, I doubt it will be a difficult service to setup.

  • There might be enough capacity on High Speed Two  for two tph on the route,
  • It could possibly be extended to Lincoln.

It will also depend on the service timing being consistent with an efficient use of trains and platforms.

  • Thirty-three minutes is not a good timing, as it means twenty-seven minutes wait in a platform to get a round trip time, that suits clock-face time-tabling.
  • The current Lincoln and Nottingham service takes 56 minutes for 34 miles.
  • LNER’s London Kings Cross and Lincoln service travels the 16 miles between Lincoln and Newark in 25 minutes.
  • I estimate that after track improvements,  with a single stop at Newark Castle station, that Nottingham and Lincoln could be achieved in several minutes under fifty minutes.
  • This would enable a sub-ninety minute journey time between Birmingham Curzon Street and Lincoln, with enough time to properly turn the trains at both ends of the route.
  • The three hour round trip would mean that an hourly service would need three trains.

This is probably just one of several efficient time-tabling possibilities.

Are there any other similar services?

The obvious one is surely Cambridge and Birmingham

  • It would run via Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham and East Midlands Hub.
  • It would connect the three big science, engineering and medical centres in the Midlands and the East.
  • It could be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

It might even be a replacement for CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between East Midlands Hub And Sheffield

The section between East Midlands Hub and Sheffield, will be running 2 tph

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

This map of High Speed Two where the Sheffield Branch leaves the new High Speed Two route between East Midlands Hub and Leeds was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The main route of High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub, is shown in orange and follows the route of the M1 Motorway, towards the East of the map.
  2. The Sheffield Branch is new track to Clay Cross, where is takes over the Midland Main Line to Sheffield, which is shown in blue.
  3. The line going South in the middle of the map is the Erewash Valley Line, which goes through Langley Mill and Ilkeston stations.

I suspect Clay Cross to Sheffield will be an electrified high speed line, with a maximum speed of at least 140 mph.

Could the Erewash Valley Line have been used as an alternative route to Sheffield?

This map of High Speed Two captured from their interactive map, shows the connection of High Speed Two and the Erewash Valley Line to East Midlands Hub.

Note.

  1. East Midlands Hub is shown by the big blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  3. The route to Leeds vaguely follows the M1 Motorway.
  4. The Erewash Valley Line goes North to the East of Ilkeston.

Would have been quicker and easier to electrify the Erewash Valley Line, as the High Speed Two route to Chesterfield and Sheffield?

  • Network Rail updated the route a few years ago.
  • It does not have the problems of electrification, through a World Heritage Site, as does the route through Derby.
  • It could surely handle two tph, even if they were High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  • Sheffield will be just under ninety minutes from London by High Speed Two, as opposed to two hours now.

I suspect that it all comes down to saving a few minutes to Sheffield and the civic pride of having a High Speed Two connection.

So it looks like we’ll have the following capacity between East Midlands Hub and Sheffield.

  • Between East Midlands Hub and Clay Cross, there will be the High Speed Two capacity of 18 tph.
  • Between Clay Cross and Sheffield, there will probably be an upgraded capacity of perhaps 8-10 tph.

It seems a lot of capacity for just two tph.

Consider.

  • High Speed Two is planning to run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub
  • Midlands Rail Engine is planning to run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub
  • Four tph is considered a Turn-Up-And-Go service, and could exist between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.
  • Sheffield and Leeds, both probably need a Turn-Up-And-Go service, to and from East Midlands Hub.
  • Semi-fast services between Sheffield and East Midlands Hub, calling at Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston would be possible, by using the Erewash Valley Line.
  • The Maid Marian Line will join the Robin Hood Line in adding extra connectivity to East Midlands Hub Station.
  • Leeds and East Midlands Hub could have a six tph service courtesy of High Speed Two and Midlands Rail Engine.

Using High Speed Two’s web site, the following times should be possible.

  • Sheffield and East Midlands Hub – 27 minutes
  • Sheffield and Birmingham Curzon Street – 47 minutes.

Both services allow time for an efficient service.

There are certainly many options to create a Turn-Up-And-Go service between Sheffield and East Midlands Hub and also improve connections to other locations across the area.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between East Midlands Hub And Leeds

The section is between East Midlands Hub and Leeds, will be running 5 tph

High Speed Two between Midlands Hub and Leeds is a totally new high speed line.

  • As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.
  • The Southern section of the leg closely follows the M1 Motorway.
  • Leeds, York and Newcastle will be 27, 36 and 93 minutes from East Midlands Hub, respectively.

This map of High Speed Two, which shows the route of the line in Yorkshire, was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is marked by the blue dot in the South.
  2. Leeds is marked by the blue dot in the North West.
  3. York is marked by the blue dot in the North East.
  4. New routes are shown in orange.
  5. Upgraded routes are shown in blue.

The route seems to open up several possibilities for extra routes.

Leeds and Sheffield will be used by Northern Powerhouse Rail and there will be four tph, taking 28 minutes.

Leeds and Bedford via East Midlands Hub has been proposed by Midlands Rail Engine.

Services between Sheffield and the North via York must be a possibility.

This map of High Speed Two, which shows the routes to the East of Leeds, was captured from High Speed Two’s interactive map.

I think that two things might be missing.

  • A full triangular junction would surely allow services between Leeds and the North via York.
  • A high speed connection to Hull.

We shall see in the future.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between York And Newcastle

The section between  York and Newcastle, will be running at a frequency of 3 tph.

Over this section the services will be running on an improved East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I shall split the conclusions into various sections.

Route And Track Layout

I think there may be places, where the route and track layout might need to be improved.

  • The Manchester Branch probably needs a triangular junction with the Western Leg of High Speed Two.
  • How Liverpool is served by Northern Powerhouse Rail needs to be decided.
  • The approach to Leeds probably needs a triangular junction with the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.
  • It is not clear how services will reach Hull.

Hopefully, these issues will become clear in the next year or so.

Capacity

The sections with the highest levels of capacity would appear to be the following.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Interchange.
  • The Manchester Branch
  • The section shared with the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle.
  • The section shared with the West Coast Main Line between Wigan and Scotland.

But on these sections extra trains can be run.

  • Birmingham and North West England
  • Birmingham and East Midlands Hub
  • East Midlands Hub and Leeds
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield
  • East Midlands Hub and York

I can see, this capacity being filled by high speed local services, like those proposed by Midlands Rail Engine.

Rolling Stock

The only comment, I will make, is that there could be a need for a shorter Classic-Compatible train to work local services.

 

 

 

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Testing Begins On Midland Main Line Electrification

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

  • From the article, it looks like the first part of mechanical testing has been completed as planned and unpowered pantograph runs have been performed at up to 110 mph.
  • It does seem to me, that this thirty  miles of electrification has avoided the troubles that have plagued similar projects in recent years.

Perhaps the good progress on this electrification, is making the government think again about early electrification of all of the  Midland Main Line

In Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification. I showed how battery electric Class 810 trains would be able to work the route.

This was my conclusion of that earlier post.

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

There was one thing, that wasn’t available, a month ago, when I wrote that post – A charging system for battery electric trains, that could be installed at Nottingham.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I report on Adrian Shooter’s plans for Vivarail, which are outlined in a video by Modern Railways.

Ar one point he says this   see about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

So could we see a Hitachi Class 810 train using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system at Nottingham?

In Interview: Hitachi’s Nick Hughes On Driving Innovation In Rail Propulsion, Nick Hughes of Hitachi is quoted as saying.

Rail is going to become increasingly digitised and integrated into other sectors involved in smart cities, mobility-as-a-service and flexible green grid. Therefore, Hitachi Rail won’t be able to stay at the forefront of innovation by its self. This is why we are focused on building partnerships with other like-minded, innovative, clean tech companies like Hyperdrive Innovation, Perpetuum and Hitachi group companies such as Hitachi ABB.

Does Vivarail fit that philosophy? In my view, it does!

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The range on battery power is 90 km or 56 miles at up to 100 mph.
  2. Class 810 trains could be converted to battery electric trains by replacing the diesel engines with batteries.
  3. As the electrification has reached Kettering. there is only 55 miles between London St Pancras and Nottingham without electrification.

I could see Class 810 trains running between St. Pancras and Nottingham on delivery, provided the following projects have been completed.

  • Hitachi have been able to give the Class 810 trains a range of say 60 miles on batteries.
  • Hitachi have modified their trains, so they can be recharged by a Vivarail Fast Charge system in fifteen minutes.
  • Vivarail have installed a Fast Charge facility at Nottingham station.

Network Rail are planning to extend the electrification from Kettering to Market Harborough, which would reduce the distance without electrification to under 50 miles. This would make running battery electric trains between London St. Pancras and Nottingham even easier.

Expanding The Network

If I am putting two and two together correctly and Hitachi have turned to Vivarail to provide a charging system or a licence for the use of the technology, I am sure, it would be possible to create a comprehensive network of battery electric trains.

Consider.

  • Hitachi should be able to squeeze a sixty mile range at 90-100 mph from a battery-equipped Class 810 trains.
  • Market Harborough and Derby are about 47 miles apart.
  • Derby and Sheffield are about 36 miles apart
  • Sheffield and Leeds are about 48 miles apart
  • Corby and Leicester are about 41 miles apart.

Vivarail Fast Charge systems at Derby, Leicester and Sheffield would enable the following routes to be run using battery electric trains.

  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via Derby – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leeds via Derby and Sheffield – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via the Erewash Valley Line – Fast Charging at Ilkeston (?) and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester via Corby – Fast Charging at Leicester

Note.

  1. The only extra electrification needed for the initial network would be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  2. The Class 810 trains would all be identical.
  3. The Class 810 trains might even be built and delivered as battery electric trains
  4. Trains would also charge the batteries between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, between London St. Pancras and Corby. and between Leeds and Wakefield Westgate.

The network can be extended by adding more electrification and Fast Charge systems.

Conclusion

The technologies of Hitachi and Vivarail seem complimentary and could result in a fully electric main line train network for East Midlands Railway.

 

 

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Interview: Hitachi’s Nick Hughes On Driving Innovation In Rail Propulsion

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

As with the article I discuss in Hydrogen On The Line, it is another well-written and informative article from The Engineer, where those at the sharp end of innovative rail technologies give their views.

This is the introductory paragraph.

As part of a series of articles exploring the propulsion technologies that will shape the future of key transport sectors The Engineer spoke to Hitachi Rail’s Nick Hughes about the innovations that will propel the rail sector into a low carbon future.

The Engineer asked these questions.

  1. What propulsion innovations will help power the rail sector towards net zero?
  2. Can you outline some of your organisation’s own key activities in this area?
  3. What are the key obstacles and challenges to developments in this area?
  4. What is your vision for the long-term future of propulsion in your sector?

I find the answer to the last question most interesting.

Rail is going to become increasingly digitised and integrated into other sectors involved in smart cities, mobility-as-a-service and flexible green grid. Therefore, Hitachi Rail won’t be able to stay at the forefront of innovation by its self. This is why we are focused on building partnerships with other like-minded, innovative, clean tech companies like Hyperdrive Innovation, Perpetuum and Hitachi group companies such as Hitachi ABB.

Hyperdrive Innovation is going to apply its knowledge and expertise from the automotive sector, to develop a market leading battery for Hitachi trains. Perpetuum predictive analytics improve reliability and availability of existing trains. Meanwhile, Hitachi ABB’s experience of the power sector allows our battery train solution to incorporate charging, storage and grid management. These partnerships creates an entry point into the rail market for our partners, potentially leading to future growth and jobs.

However, it is important to recognise that the established technologies of today – battery trains, discontinuous electrification and high-speed trains – are the technologies will help achieve the 2050 net zero emission target.

I would very much agree with all that is said.

 

 

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Energy, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On The Design Of Hitachi’s Battery Electric Trains

If you look at a Class 800 or Class 802 train, they have underfloor diesel engines. Their powertrain is described like this in its own section in Wikipedia.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.

There have been rumours of overheating.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi have teamed up with Hyperdrive Innovation to create a Regional Battery Train. There is this Press Release on the Hyperdrive Information web site, which is entitled Hitachi Rail And Hyperdrive Agreement P[ens Way For Battery Trains Across Britain.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification.

Note, that this is a 100 mph train, with a range of 56 miles.

Typical routes would include a route like Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge.

  • It is 93 miles.
  • There are thirty-nine miles of electrification at the Stansted Airport end.
  • Norwich station is fully-electrified.
  • There is just 53 miles between the Trowse swing-bridge and Ely station, that is not electrified.

Trains would charge the batteries at both ends of the route and use battery power, where no electrification exists.

There are many similar routes like this in the UK.

Hitachi have also produced this video.

My thoughts lead me to a few questions.

Are The Battery Modules Simulated Diesel Engines?

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

Stadler have three very similar trains, that are destined for the UK.

All share the same PowerPack-in-the-Middle design, which is shown in this picture.

There are four slots in the PowerPack, with two on either side and they can all hold, either a diesel engine or a battery. Only, the Class 756 trains, are planned to have batteries at present, to make the trains tri-mode and capable of being powered by overhead electric, on-board batteries or a diesel generator.

If I was designing the battery modules to slot into the PowerPack, I and many other engineers would make the battery module deliver similar characteristics and plug compatibility to the diesel module.

The train’s control computer, would be simpler to program and debug and would use modules appropriately to drive the train according to the driver’s instructions.

This interchangeability would also give the operator lots of flexibility, in how they configured and used the trains.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation use an approach for Hitachi, where the battery module has similar characteristics and plug compatibility to the current diesel module?

I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, as it allows modules to be quickly swapped as operational needs change and the train’s computer sorts out the train’s formation and acts accordingly.

On An Hitachi Regional Battery Train Will All Diesel Engines Be Replaced With Battery Modules?

If the computer is well-programmed, it should handle any combination of diesel engines and battery modules.

Perhaps for various routes different combinations might apply.

  • For maximum battery range, all modules would be batteries.
  • For maximum power, all modules would be diesel engines.
  • To handle some out and back routes, there might be three battery modules and a diesel engine to charge the batteries before return.
  • Could perhaps one or two battery modules be fitted to avoid using the diesel engines in stations and in sensitive areas?

On some routes all diesel engines will be replaced with batteries on Battery Regional Trains, but on others there could be a mixture of both battery and diesel engines.

It should be noted that Stadler achieve the same flexibility with their PowerPack-in-the-Middle design.

Operators will like this flexibility.

What Is The Capacity Of A Battery Module?

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

I can do a simple estimate based on this figure.

When running on batteries the train will need less energy due to less air resistance, because it is going at 100 mph, rather than 125 mph.

  • If the energy use is proportional to the speed, then at 100 mph, the energy use will be 2.73 kWh per vehicle mile.
  • But if the energy use is proportional to the square of the speed, the energy use will be 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile.

I will compromise and use 2.5 kWh per vehicle mile.

Total energy needed to move a five-car train 56 miles would be 5 x 56 x 2.5 or 700 kWh, which could be three batteries of 233 kWh.

These are not outrageous sizes and the batteries could probably be of a comparable weight to the current diesel engines. So replacement wouldn’t affect the handling of the train.

In addition, the batteries would need to be large enough to hold all the regenerated by braking during a stop.

  • The weight of a Class 800 train is 243 tonnes.
  • It can carry 326 passengers, who probably weigh 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a total train weight of 269 tonnes.
  • Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the kinetic energy at 100 mph is just 75 kWh.
  • For completeness, at 125 mph, the kinetic energy is 117 kWh and at 140 mph, the kinetic energy is 146 kWh.

All these figures are small compared to the battery size needed for traction.

Will East Coast Train’s Class 803 trains Use The Same Technology?

On East Coast Trains‘s Class 803 trains, batteries will be fitted to maintain onboard services, in case of a power failure.

Have these batteries been designed by Hyperdrive Innovation, with perhaps less capacity?

As East Coast Trains’s route between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is fully electrified, the trains probably won’t need any auxiliary traction power.

But would increasing the battery size make this possible?

Where Do Avanti West Coast Class 807 Trains Fit In?

Avanti West Coast‘s Class 807 trains are also members of the same Hitachi A-Train family.

In the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Hitachi Trains For Avanti.

This is said about the ten all-electric AT-300 trains for Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool services, which have now been numbered as Class 807 trains.

The electric trains will be fully reliant on the overhead wire, with no diesel auxiliary engines or batteries.

It may go against Hitachi’s original design philosophy, but not carrying excess weight around, must improve train performance, because of better acceleration.

It may also have the wiring for a diesel engine or a battery module, should operational experience indicate one is needed.

Will All Cars Be Wired Ready For A Diesel Or Battery Module?

A five-car Class 802 train currently has a diesel engine in cars 2, 3 and 4.

The Hitachi infographic says that a Regional Battery Train has a range of 56 miles on batteries.

Let’s assume that this range applies to a Class 802 train, that has been fitted with three battery modules.

If we take Hull Trains as an example, their Class 802 trains do the following sections using their diesel engines

  • Temple Hirst Junction and Beverley – 44.34 miles or 87 miles round trip
  • Temple Hirst Junction and Hull – 36 miles or 72 miles round trip

These distances mean that with a 56 mile range, there needs to be some form of changing at Hull and/or Beverley.

But supposing all cars are wired to accept batteries or diesel engines. This could mean the following.

  • A train with three batteries and a range of 56 miles, could fit a standard diesel engine as a range extender, which could also be used to charge the batteries at Hull or Beverley.
  • A train with four batteries, could have a range of 75 miles, which with regenerative braking and precise energy-saving driving could be able to go between Temple Hirst Junction and Hull and back on battery power.
  • A train with four batteries and a diesel engine,, could have a range of 75 miles on battery power. The diesel energy could be used as a range extender or to charge the batteries at Hull and/or Beverley.
  • Could a train with five batteries, which could have a range of 90 miles, be able to reach Beverley and return to Temple Hirst Junction?

Note.

  1. I have assumed that battery range is proportional to the number of batteries.
  2. There must also be scope for running slower to cut the amount of energy used.

In addition, all Hull Trains schedules seem to spend fifteen minutes or more in Hull station. This would be enough time to recharge the batteries.

I’m fairly certain, that if all cars were wired  for batteries or diesel engines, it would give the operators a lot of flexibility.

Running With Batteries And A Range Extender Diesel Engine

The LEVC TX taxi is described as a plug-in hybrid range extender electric vehicle, where a small petrol engine, can also be used to generate electricity to power the vehicle.

Suppose a Class 802 train was fitted with two battery modules and a diesel engine. Could the diesel act as a range extender, in the same way as the petrol engine does on the LEVC TX?

The diesel engines fitted to a Class 802 train are 700 kW, so if I’m right about the train having total battery capacity of 700 kWh, one engine would take an hour to charge the batteries.

Returning to my Hull Trains example, drivers could probably ensure that the train didn’t get stranded by judicial use of the a single diesel engine to charge the batteries, whilst running in rural areas along the route.

As there would only be one diesel engine rather than three, the noise would be much lower.

I suspect too, that a simple charger in Hull station could charge a train, as it passes through, to make sure it doesn’t get stranded in the countryside.

I suspect that a mix of batteries and diesel engines could be part of an elegant solution on some routes.

  • Edinburgh and Aberdeen
  • Edinburgh and Inverness
  • London Kings Cross and Hull
  • London Paddington and Swansea
  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield.
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham

It might also be a useful configuration on some TransPennine routes.

Charging Battery Trains

Having a charger in a terminal station would open up a lot of routes to Hitachi’s battery electric trains.

At stations like Hull and Scarborough, this charger could be as simple as perhaps forty metres of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • The train would stop in the station at the appropriate place.
  • The driver would raise the pantograph.
  • Charging would start.
  • When the battery is fully-charged, the driver would lower the pantograph.

This procedure could be easily automated and the overhead wire could be made electrically dead, if no train is connected.

It should be noted that Hitachi have recently acquired ABB’s power grid business, as announced in this Hitachi press release which is entitled Hitachi Completes Acquisition of ABB’s Power Grids Business; Hitachi ABB Power Grids Begins Operation.

Rail is not mentioned, but mobility is. So will this move by Hitachi, strengthen their offering to customers, by also providing the systems in stations and sidings to charge the trains.

This Google Map shows Hull station, with its large roof.

Could an integrated solution involving solar panels over the station be used to power electrification to charge the trains and dome electric buses next door?

Integrated solutions powered by renewable energy would appeal to a lot of municipalities seeking to improve their carbon profile.

Conclusion

These trains will transform a lot of rail services in the UK and abroad.

 

 

 

 

 

October 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Toyota, Hitachi, JR East To Jointly Develop Hydrogen-Powered Trains

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Toyota Motor Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and East Japan Railway Co. said Tuesday they will jointly develop hydrogen-powered trains as part of their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The three companies have agreed to collaborate on development of test railway vehicles equipped with hybrid systems that use hydrogen-fuel cells and storage batteries as their source of power.

It appears that Toyota will provide the fuel cell technology.

 

October 6, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Hitachi Targets Export Opportunities From Newton Aycliffe

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Very High Speed Trains (VHSTs) built in Britain could be exported to Europe and even further afield from Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory.

The article would appear to confirm, that the AT-300 family of trains is now a family with a very wide reach.

Trains in the family include.

Very High Speed Trains (VHST)

The article states that VHST trains will form part of the AT-300 family.

The big order to be handed out in the UK, is for 54 Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two.

The Classic-Compatible trains are described in this section in Wikipedia, by this sentence.

The classic-compatible trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing tilting trains on conventional track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought “off-the-shelf”, these conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.

The trains will have the same characteristics as the full-size High Speed Two trains.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph.
  • Cruising speed of 205 mph on High Speed Two.
  • Length of 200 metres.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • A passenger capacity around 500-600 passengers.

A seven-car Class 807 train with twenty-six metre long cars would appear to be a partial match and tick all the boxes, except for the following.

  • The train’s maximum and cruising speeds are well below what is needed.
  • The train is only 182 metres long.
  • The train has a passenger capacity of 453.

Would a train with eight twenty-five metre long cars be a better fit?

  •  The train length would be 200 metres.
  • Twenty-five metre cars would not cause a problem!
  • I estimate the passenger capacity would be 498 seats.

The trains or members of the same family have already shown.

  • They can run on the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.
  • They can run on High Speed One.
  • They can split and join automatically.
  • When needed they can run on local lines.

If I was Avanti West Coast’s train-Czar, I would be seriously interested in a Classic-Compatible High Speed Two train, that was very similar to one I already had in service. Provided, of course it did what it promised in the specification.

By adjusting the car-length and the number of cars, the Classic-Compatible High Speed Two train can probably made to fit any operators needs.

High Speed Trains (HST)

There are several fleets of these in service.

The picture shows one of LNER’s Hitachi trains going through Oakleigh Park station.

It would appear that the trains can be configured to the customers needs.

  • Trains have been ordered in lengths of five, seven or nine cars, with a maximum length of up to twelve or more cars.
  • Cars have been ordered in lengths of 24 and 26 metres.
  • Some fleets will be fitted with diesel engines for bi-mode operation.

Operating speeds will be as follows.

  • 100 mph operating speed on diesel.
  • 125 mph operating speed on electric power
  • 140 mph operating speed on electric power with in-cab signalling.

The signalling required for 140 mph running, is currently being installed between London Kings Cross and Doncaster.

High Speed Commuter Trains

As high speed lines proliferate, there will be a need for faster commuter trains.

In a few years time, the following lines out of London will see High Speed Trains like those made by Hitachi sharing tracks with commuter trains.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

Already on the Great Western Main Line services to Bedwyn and Oxford are run by Class 800 or Class 802 trains, so these trains could be considered to be High Speed Commuter Trains.

  • Their 125 mph operating speed allows them to mix it, with the other High Speed Trains running into and out of London Paddington.
  • Digital in-cab signalling may allow running of both expresses and High Speed Commuter trains at 140 mph.

Other routes, where they could be used, would include.

  • London Kings Cross and Ely via Cambridge.
  • London Paddington and Cheltenham
  • London Paddington and Westbury
  • London St. Pancras and Corby.
  • Liverpool And Blackpool
  • Liverpool And Crewe

The trains would only be doing the same as already happens on High Speed One.

As more and more High Speed Trains run in the UK on existing 125 mph routes, there will be a greater need to increase the operating speed of commuter trains sharing the routes.

Regional Battery Trains

I described these trains in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Their specification is given in this Hitachi infographic.

A Regional Battery Train has the following capabilities on battery power.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to run for 56 miles.

It appears that all AT-300 based trains could be converted into either Regional Battery Trains or AT-300 trains fitted with batteries.

If you take one of Great Western Railway’s Class 802 trains, it will have the following specification.

  • 125 mph operating speed on electric power
  • 140 mph operating speed on electric power with in-cab signalling.

These speeds will be unaffected by fitting batteries, as when running using electrification, the batteries will effectively be more passengers, just as any diesel engines are today.

I also believe that the trains could be Plug-and-Play, with interchangeable diesel engines and battery packs. The train’s operating system would determine how much power was available and drive the car accordingly.

I also believe that Hitachi are being economical with the truth on range on battery power and that if every car was fitted with an intelligent battery pack, on some routes the range could be much greater in a few years.

As an example of their use, Harrogate is eighteen miles from electrification at Leeds. With a range of 56 miles, a Regional Battery Train could do the following.

  • Travel from London Kings Cross to Leeds using the existing electrification.
  • Travel from Leeds to Harrogate and back on battery power.
  • Travel back to London Kings Cross from Leeds using the existing electrification.

Note.

  1. Trains would charge their batteries on the run up from London Kings Cross.
  2. Trains would be travelling at up to 125 mph between London Kings Cross and Leeds.
  3. Once in-cab signalling is installed between London and Doncaster, this section could be run at up to 140 mph.

This battery train is no glorified milk-float!

There are other services off high speed lines , that could be handled

  • Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Harrogate – 18 miles
  • Henley – 4.5 miles
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • Oxford – 10.5 miles

These are just a few of many examples, which are probably increased by a factor of two or three if you have charging at both ends of route without electrification.

Conclusion

Hitachi have developed a family of high speed trains, that can handle anything from fast commuter trains to very high speed trains.

They also probably have battery options to fit all of them.

 

 

 

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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