The Anonymous Widower

Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon

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

This is the first paragraph.

Alstom Transport is hopeful of confirming an order before the end of this year for its Breeze hydrogen multiple-unit trains being developed in partnership with leasing company Eversholt Rail, suggesting that the first trains could enter service ‘as early as 2022’.

It then goes out to fill out some of the thinking behind the Alstom Breeze hydrogen-powered train.

The Breeze Is A Stop-Gap

Alstom are quoted as indicating the Breeze is an interim solution, until the next generation of train is available.

But after a ride to Southend recently in a Class 321 Renatus, I’m sure that the ride and passenger acceptance will be of a high standard.

And that’s what counts. Hydrogen is only the train’s personal power supply.

Alstom Are Not Building A Suburban Trundler

The Alstom Coradia iLint is not an exciting train.

  • It has a cruising speed of 87 mph.
  • It has a range of 370-500 miles.
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission.
  • It always runs on hydrogen-power.
  • The prototypes have covered 100,000 km.

In my view, it is very much a first generation compromise design.

The article says more about the Alstom Breeze.

  • It has a slightly faster cruising speed of 90 mph
  • The Breeze will have 50% more power than the iLint. Does this mean better acceleration and/or a longer and heavier train?
  • It will have a 1,000 km range.
  • It will have regenerative breaking.
  • It will have a new AC traction package, as does a Class 321 Renatus. So will the two systems be the same?

I am also fairly sure, the train will be able to use electrification of both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail, as Class 321 trains can now!

Train Capacity

This is said about train capacity.

Despite the loss of some seating space, each set of three 20 m vehicles would provide slightly more capacity than a two-car DMU with 23 m cars which it would typically replace.

The Class 172/0 trains, that are two-car 23 metre diesel multiple units, have 124 seats.

In Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead, I estimated that a three-car Alstom Breeze would have a seating capacity of around 140 seats, with the ability to perhaps take an additional 160 standees.

So was my seat estimate fairly good? I also think, that as the Breeze has been designed with bags of grunt, I suspect that the basic train could be increased in size by adding extra trailer cars.

After all, the legendary Class 442 train is a five-car train, with a power-car in the middle. South Western Railway, think they are worth pulling out of the scrapyard and refurbishing to run expresses between Waterloo and Portsmouth.

I am fairly certain, that Alstom can create a five-car Class 321 Breeze with the following characteristics.

A capacity of about three hundred seats.

  • A near-100 mph top speed.
  • A 1000 km range on hydrogen.
  • The ability to use 25 KVAC overhead and/or 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • The ability to run two trains as a ten-car train.

It would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Liverpool and North Wales via Chester
  • Norwich and Derby
  • Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Preston and Carlisle via Barrow
  • Cardiff and the South Coast of England
  • Borders Railway
  • Southampton and Ashford
  • Waterloo and Exeter

All of these routes have partial electrification, which would reduce the amount of hydrogen needed to be carried around.

Now that is an interesting multi-variable calculation!

Hydrogen Infrastructure

Alstom seem to be developing infrastructure solutions to supply hydrogen for fleets of ten or more trains, which could be shared with other applications. The obvious one could be where a train depot and a fleet of buses share a facility in say a large city like Exeter, which has an extensive diesel train network.

The article also says this about the source of hydrogen.

Ideally, the trains would use ‘green’ hydrogen manufactured by electrolysis using surplus renewable energy rather than ‘brown’ hydrogen from steam methane reforming.

I agree wholeheartedly with that!

Delivery In 2022?

Consider what has already been achieved in other projects.

  • Alstom have proved they can generate enough electricity to power a practical train.
  • Eversholt have proved that you can turn Class 321 trains into comfortable and efficient 100 mph Class 321 Renatus trains for routes up to a hundred miles.
  • Several classes of Mark 3-based electrical multiple units have been re-engined with AC traction, including the Class 321 Renatus.
  • Engineers all over the UK have modified Mark 3-based coaches and multiple units to create better and more-efficient trains.

Helping delivery of the project, is a legacy of drawings and philosophy from British Rail Engineering.

If Alstom say 2022, I believe that that could be a feasible date.

Conclusion

The ghost of British Rail Engineering is certainly a benign one allowing all sorts of worthwhile development paths.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Bosch Likely To Slash Platinum In New Fuel Cells

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Automotive News Europe.

This is the first paragraph.

Bosch expects platinum to play only a minor role in its new fuel cells, with the supplier only needing a tenth of the metal used in current fuel cell vehicles, Reuters estimates.

The amount will be similar to that in the average catalytic converter, which must surely be a good thing.

Bosch are in a joint venture with Swedish fuel cell maker, Powercell

 

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

London To Have World-First Hydrogen-Powered Double-Decker Buses

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Guardian.

This is the first three paragraphs.

London will have the world’s first hydrogen-powered doubledecker buses on its streets next year, as the capital steps up attempts to tackle its polluted air.

Transport for London (TfL) has ordered 20 of the buses, which cost around £500,000 each and only emit water as exhaust.

As well as cutting polluting exhaust emissions, the buses will run on green hydrogen produced via North Kent offshore wind farms, according to TfL.

After the announcement of the Alexander Dennis hydrogen buses for Liverpool, that I wrote about in New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I wondered how long it would take Wrightbus to respond?

It appears to be less than a month.

This is also said about the buses.

The buses will also feature amenities such as USB charging points, and promise a smoother, quieter ride. They will operate first on three routes in west London and to Wembley, which served over 10 million passenger journeys last year.

I will add these comments.

USB Charging Points

I’ve only ever used USB charging points three times on the move.

All installations were under a few years old and it is definitely the way passenger transport is going.

London Overground’s new Class 710 trains will be fitted with USB charging points and wi-fi.

Smoother, Quieter Ride

I have ridden in the following electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles

  • A battery-electric Vivarail Class 230 train
  • A battery-electric Class 379 train
  • Several battery-electric and hydrogen-powered buses in London.
  • A hydrogen-powered Alstom Coeadia iLint train.
  • An LEVCC TX electric black cab.

With the exception of the iLint train, which has a mechanical transmission, all are smooth and quiet.

So I have no reason to disbelieve this claim in The Guardian article.

Three Routes In West London

This article in Air Quality News gives more details on the routes.

The vehicles will be introduced on routes 245, 7 and N7, with people travelling to Wembley Stadium, or from west London to the West End.

  • Route 7 runs between East Acton and Oxford Circus.
  • Route 245 runs between Alperton Sainsburys and Golders Green station.

Both are operated by Metroline from Perivale East garage, where they appear to be the only routes served from the garage, which has a capacity of forty buses.

This Google Map shows a 3D picture of Perivale East garage.

The garage is squeezed into a triangle of land between the Acton-Northolt Line, the Central Line and the six-lane A40 road.

  • It’s not near any houses.
  • It’s surrounded by trees and industrual units.
  • Is the site large enough to generate hydrogen on site?
  • Could hydrogen be brought in by rail?
  • It could easily hold the twenty hydrogen buses and a few others.

I can certainly see why Transport for London have chosen to use hydrogen buses on routes 7, 245, N7, based at Periavale East garage.

Design

This is a paragraph from the Air Quality News article.

TfL says they are investing £12m in the new buses and the fuelling infrastructure with Northern Ireland firm Wrightbus as the manufacturer, which uses a fuel cell from Ballard to power a Siemens drivetrain.

Wikipedia says this about the transmission of a New Routemaster bus, that was built by Wright.

Hybrid diesel-electric in series; 18 kW] Microvast Lithium Titanate battery,Microvast LpTO, Siemens ELFA2 electric traction motor.

I should point out that it appears that originally, the New Routemaster had a larger 75 kWh battery. Has the technology improved?

Is the transmission and the chassis based on the Wright-designed New Routemaster chassis and transmission, substituting a Ballard fuel cell for the Cummins diesel engine?

The Cummins diesel engine in the New Routemaster is rated at 185 hp or 138 kW.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of Ballard’s FCveloCity family of fuel cells.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the bus.

It strikes me that this fuel cell is smaller and weighs less than a typical diesel engine fitted to a double-decker bus.

With a larger battery, regenerative braking and a clever transmission would a 100 kW fuel-cell provide enough power for the bus?

Wright have obviously solved the problem and found space for the hydrogen tank, otherwise they wouldn’t have received the order.

Drawing on their experience with the New Routemaster and adding the proven fuel cell technology of Ballard looks at first glance to be a low-risk route to a hydrogen-powered bus.

Conclusion

Wright Group and Transport for London appear to have designed a well-thought out solution to the problem of providing zero-emission buses for London and delivering the first buses next year!

We now have two hydrogen double-decker bus projects under way.

  • London and Wright Group
  • Liverpool and Alexander Dennis

Both appear to be fully-integrated projects, which include the supply of hydrogen to the buses.

When both are proven, there could be very keen competition between the two companies to sell systems all over the UK and the wider world.

It should be noted, that double-decker buses are not that common outside of the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

But could these two zero-emission projects open up the rest of the world, to these most British of products?

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

How Much Energy Can Extracted From a Kilogram Of Hydrogen?

This article on EnergyH, is entitled About Hydrogen Energy.

This is said.

Hydrogen has an energy density of 39 kWh/kg, which means that 1 kg of hydrogen contains 130 times more energy than 1kg of batteries. So lots of energy can be stored with hydrogen in only a small volume.

But as in most things in life, you can’t have it all as fuel cells are not 100 %  efficient.

Wikipedia has a sub-section which gives the in-practice efficiency of a fuel cell, where this is said.

In a fuel-cell vehicle the tank-to-wheel efficiency is greater than 45% at low loads and shows average values of about 36% when a driving cycle like the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) is used as test procedure. The comparable NEDC value for a Diesel vehicle is 22%. In 2008 Honda released a demonstration fuel cell electric vehicle (the Honda FCX Clarity) with fuel stack claiming a 60% tank-to-wheel efficiency.

For the purpose of this exercise, I’ll assume a conservative forty percent.

This means that a kilogram of hydrogen would generate 16 kWh

Raise that efficiency to fifty percent and 19 kWh would be generated.

Conclusion

Fuel cell efficiency will be key.

May 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , | 1 Comment

Vivarail And Arcola Announce Partnership To Bring Emission-Free Trains To The UK

The title of this post is the same as this press release from Vivarail.

These are the first two paragraphs

Vivarail, designers and manufacturers of the Class 230 trains, and hydrogen fuel cell specialists Arcola Energy today announced a long-term collaboration.

The companies share a determination to help de-carbonise the UK’s transport system. Vivarail has already designed and run an emission-free battery train whilst Arcola lead the market in supplying power systems for efficient fuel cell electric vehicles, primarily buses, to the UK. Working together the companies will develop a hydrogen/battery hybrid train.

It strikes me that this could be a good fit.

Powering A Bus

In New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I described Arcola Energy’s involvement in a project to create and fuel hydrogen-powered buses in conjunction with Alexander Dennis.

  • A typical hybrid double-decker bus like a New Routemaster has a battery capacity of 55 kWh.
  • If these Liverpool hydrogen-powered double-decker buses have serial hybrid transmission like the New Routemaster, I could envisage them having a battery of up to 100 kWh, as let’s face it, the New Routemaster design is now eight years old and battery technology has moved on.

So the Arcola Energy-sourced fuel cell must be able to continuously top-up, the battery, in the same manner as the diesel engine on a hybrid bus.

Sit in the back of a New Routemaster and you can hear the engine cutting in and out. It doesn’t seem to work very hard, even on routes like the 73, which operate at high loadings.

Powering A Class 230 Train

Vivarail’s battery-powered Class 230 train, has a battery capacity of  106 kWh.

This size of battery could certainly be changed by a hydrogen fuel cell.

But could a hydrogen fuel cell provide enough power to keep the train running?

  • Vivarail are clamming a range of fifty miles, which means that their two-car battery trains are consuming around 2 kWh for every mile.
  • I will assume the train is travelling at its operating speed of sixty mph, which is a mile every minute.
  • To keep the battery topped up would need 2 kWh to be produced every minute.

A hydrogen fuel cell with a rating of 120 kW would be needed to power the train continuously. But as the fuel cell would only be topping up the battery, I suspect that a smaller fuel cell would be sufficient.

The Ballard fuel cell is a HD variant of their  FCveloCity family.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of an HD fuel cell of their  FCveloCity family.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the train.

This Ballard fuel cell would appear to be capable of mounting under the floor of a train.

There are probably several other fuel cells that will fit the Class 230 train.

Arcola should know the best hydrogen fuel cell for the application, in terms of size, power and cost.

The Concept Train

Vivarail’s press release describes a concept train.

The concept train will be used to demonstrate the system capability and test performance. Vivarail’s production hydrogen trains will consist of 4-cars, with 2 battery driving motor cars and 2 intermediate cars housing the fuel cell and tanks.

Vivarail seem very certain of the formation of production trains.

I am not surprised at this certaincy.

  • The mathematics of battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trains is well known.
  • Vivarail have experience  of running their battery-powered prototype.
  • Arcola have experience of the capabilities of hydrogen-power.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some  commonality between the Alexander Dennis and Vivarail installations.

Range Of A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

Nothing is said in Vivarail’s press release about the range on hydrogen.

In Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead, I examined Alstom’s Class 321 Breeze hydrogen train, based on an article in The Times.

I said this about range.

The Times gives the range of the train as in excess of 625 miles

The Class 321 Breeze looks to be designed for longer routes than the Class 230 train.

I would suspect that a hydrogen-powered Class 230 train would have the range to do a typical day’s work without refuelling.

Refuelling A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

I don’t think this will be a problem as Arcola appear to have the expertise to provide a complete solution.

Conclusion

This is a co-operation, where both parties are bringing strengths to the venture.

 

May 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alstom Coradia iLint Hydrogen-Powered Train Video

I’ve just found this video from Alstom.

Intriguingly, the video was filmed at Braunschweig Hauptbahnhof, which is in another part of Germany, about two hundred kilometres to the South-East of Hamburg.

There does seem to be several local services radiating from the City on lines without electrification.

May 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Writing On The Wall For Oil Say Funds

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on page 37 of today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Several big fund managers believe that oil companies should shut themselves down because soon they will be impossible to invest in as the world switches to tenewable energy.

A survey of 39 fund managers with $10.2 trillion under manaement found that 24 per cent wanted the oil industry “to wind down their businesses and return cash to shareholders” All but two of the funds  said that oil stocks would not be attrative investments within ten years if they failed to respond to climate risks.

It’s pretty strong stuff.

So could we see a reduction in the use of oil and gas as a fuel?

In some countries including Denmark, Iceland, the United Kingdom and the United States, renewable energy is growing at a good rate.

The UK did draw the full set, in being blessed with the full set of coal, oil, wind, wave and tidal. We also have a bit of geothermal, hydro and solar.

We will still extract coal, gas and oil, but not for fuel.

  • Very high quality coal is needed for steel-making, where carbon-capture could be used.
  • Gas and oil are used as chemical feedstock for plastics, everyday chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Hydrogen gas, produced by electrolysis for use as fuel,  a chemical feedstock and central heating.

Shell have already purchased First Energy, who are a domestic energy supplier in the UK, so are they getting out of oil?

Are fund managers and oil companies starting to go in the same direction, with a lot of the world’s drivers sticking slavishly to petrol and the dreaded diesel?

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Air Quality News.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Arcola Energy will build a facility to develop hydrogen and fuel cell technology for buses near Liverpool.

The company has secured 15,000 sq. ft of newly-built premises in Knowsley which will house the company’s manufacturing, installation and maintenance facilities.

The manufacturing area of the new site will be used to produce and install hydrogen fuel systems into a fleet of double-decker buses for the Liverpool City Region, after the city region was awarded £6.4m for the project by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

Arcola Energy‘s Head Office is just round the corner from where I live, by the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 9 Comments

Startup Nikola Bets Hydrogen Will Finally Break Through With Big Rigs

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

Read the article, as it is an interesting concept.

  • Nikola Motor will not only build the trucks, but the hydrogen filling station network across North America.
  • They believe big trucks are ideal for hydrogen power.
  • They will also make their hydrogen filling station network available to car makes.
  • The founder of the company; Trevor Milton, claims it’s easier to package hydrogen tanks in big vehicles than small ones.
  • He also claims that hydrogen-powered trucks are much lighter than battery ones.
  • Hydrogen will be produced from renewable sources, where it is needed.
  • They are raising $1.2billion dollars to fund it.

First trucks will be delivered in 2022,, if all goes well with the funding.

I have no idea, whether it will work successfully, but surely a network of hydrogen filling stations, generating their own hydrogen across a Continent could be the kick, that hydrogen power for vehicles needs.

The UK is a small island and comparing it to North America, probably means the concept wouldn’t work in the UK, but if it works in North America, it will work in Europe.

But, if Trevor Milton’s mathematics work for big trucks in North America, they may well work with trains in the UK. A few hydrogen filling stations for trains and locomotives at strategic depots might power a whole new generation of rail vehicles. The rail filling stations could be co-located with filling stations for hydrogen road vehicles.

Trucks In Cities And Large Urban Areas

As I walk around London I see lots of large trucks, that can be put into a few categories.

  • Articulated delivery trucks, often for the big supermarkets.
  • Eight-wheel rigid trucks moving loads of building materials or soil and rubble dug out of construction sites.
  • Refuse trucks.
  • Skip trucks
  • Cement mixer trucks

With the exception of the first, many of these vehicles don’t do a large number of miles in a working day.

Will we see companies like Nikola Motor and others developing hydrogen or battery-powered trucks for these niches?

If they do, I can see some interesting working and fuelling strategies developing.

Would Hydrogen Trucks Be Ideal For Cross-Channel Traffic?

Imagine a journey between Stuttgart and the Toyota plant in Derby.

  • Using the European hydrogen network, the truck arrives at Calais with a low hydrogen level.
  • On arrival in Dover it goes to a convenient hydrogen station and fills up with enough hydrogen to make the five hundred mile return journey to Derby.
  • The return journey to Stuttgart, would use a hydrogen filling station at Calais to speed the truck on it’s way.

Because of the distances involved, I’m sure hydrogen would work for regular high-value truck journeys across the Channel, even if different tractors were used on either side of the Channel, as they often are now!

You could also argue, that this journey would be better done by rail. But if that is the case, why is it so much cross-Channel freight moved by trucks?

Conclusion

Hydrogen will continue to attract innovation and it is not time to write it off yet.

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Hydrogen Trains To Be Trialled On The Midland Main Line

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Bimode And Hydrogen Trains As Abellio Wins Next East Midlands Franchise.

Abellio will be taking over the franchise in August this year and although bi-mode trains were certain to be introduced in a couple of years, the trialling of hydrogen-powered trains is a surprise to me and possibly others.

This is all that is said in the article.

Abellio will also trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line.

It also says, that the new fleet will not be announced until the orders are finalised.

In this post, I’m assuming that the hydrogen trial will be performed using the main line trains.

Trains for the Midland Main Line will need to have the following properties

  • 125 mph on electric power
  • 125 mph on diesel power
  • Ability to go at up to 140 mph, when idigital n-cab signalling is installed and the track is improved.
  • UK gauge
  • Ability to run on hydrogen at a future date.

I think there could be three types of train.

  • A traditional bi-mode multiple unit, with underfloor engines like the Hitachi Class 800 series, is obviously a possibility.
  • An electrical multiple unit, where one driving car is replaced by a bi-mode locomotive with appropriate power.
  • Stadler or another manufacturer might opt for a train with a power pack in the middle.

The second option would effectively be a modern InterCity 225.

  • South of Kettering, electricity would be used.
  • North of Kettering, diesel would be used
  • Hydrogen power could replace diesel power at some future date.
  • Design could probably make the two cabs and their driving desks identical.
  • The locomotive would be interchangeable with a driver car.

Bi-modes would work most services, with electric versions working to Corby at 125 mph.

Which manufacturer has a design for a 125 mph, hydrogen-powered train?

Alstom

Alstom have no 125 mph UK multiple unit and their Class 321 Hydogen train, is certainly not a 125 mph train and probably will still be under development.

Bombardier

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I compared diesel and hydrogen-power on bi-mode Aventras and felt that hydrogen could be feasible.

In that post, I wrote a section called Diesel Or Hydrogen Power?, where I said this.

Could the better ambience be, because the train doesn’t use noisy and polluting diesel power, but clean hydrogen?

It’s a possibility, especially as Bombardier are Canadian, as are Ballard, who produce hydrogen fuel-cells with output between 100-200 kW.

Ballard’s fuel cells power some of London’s hydrogen buses.

The New Routemaster hybrid bus is powered by a 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine and uses a 75 kWh lithium-ion battery, with the bus being driven by an electric motor.

If you sit in the back of one of these buses, you can sometimes hear the engine stop and start.

In the following calculations, I’m going to assume that the bi-mode |Aventra with batteries has a power source, that can provide up to 200 kW, in a fully-controlled manner

Ballard can do this power output with hydrogen and I’m sure that to do it with a diesel engine and alternator is not the most difficult problem in the world.

So are Bombardier designing the Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, so that at a later date it can be changed from diesel to hydrogen power?

All an Aventra needs to run is electricity and the train, the onboard staff and passengers don’t care whether it comes from overhead wires, third-rail, batteries, diesel or hydrogen.

Bombardier  also have the technology for my proposed locomotive-based solution, where one driver-car of an Aventra is replaced by what is effectively a locomotive.

If Bombardier have a problem, it is that they have no small diesel train to replace Abellio’s small diesel trains. Could the longer services use the bi-mode Aventras and the shorter ones Aventras with battery power?

CAF

CAF probably have the technology, but there would be a lot of development work to do.

Hitachi

Hitachi have the bi-mode trains in the Class 802 trains, but haven’t as yet disclosed a hydrogen train.

Siemens

They’ve made a few noises, but I can’t see them producing a bi-mode train for 2022.

Stadler

In a few weeks time, I will be having a ride in a Stadler-built Class 755 train, run by Abellio Greater Anglia.

The Class 755 train is a bi-mode 100 mph train, from Stadler’s Flirt family.

Could it be stretched to a 125 mph train?

  • Stadler have built 125 mph electric Flirts.
  • It is my view, that Stadler have the knowledge to make 125 mph trains work.
  • Flirts are available in any reasonable length.
  • I’ve read that bi-mode and electric Flirts are very similar for drivers and operators.

These could work the Midland Main Line.

If the mainline version is possible, then Abellio could replace all their smaller diesel trains with appropriate Class 755 trains, just as they will be doing in East Anglia.

Stadler with the launch of the Class 93 locomotive, certainly have the technology for a locomotive-based solution.

East Midlands Railway would be an all-Stadler Flirt fleet.

As to hydrogen, Stadler are supplying hydrogen-powered trains for the Zillertalbahn, as I wrote in Zillertalbahn Orders Stadler Hydrogen-Powered Trains.

Talgo

Talgo could be the joker in the pack. They have the technology to build 125 mph bi-mode trains and are building a factory in Scotland.

My Selection

I think it comes down to a straight choice between Bombardier and Stadler.

It should also be noted, that Abellio has bought large fleets from both manufacturers for their franchises in the UK.

Zero-Carbon Pilots At Six Stations

This promise is stated in the franchise.

Once the electrification reaches Market Harborough in a couple of years, with new bi-mode trains, running on electricity, the following stations will not see any passenger trains, running their diesel engines.

  • St. Pancras
  • Luton Airport Parkway
  • Luton
  • Bedford
  • Wellingborough
  • Kettering
  • Corby
  • Market Harborough

These are not pilots, as they have been planned to happen, since the go-ahead for the wires to Market Harborough.

Other main line stations include.

  • Beeston
  • Chesterfield
  • Derby
  • East Midlands Parkway
  • Leicester
  • Long Eaaton
  • Loughborough
  • Nottingham
  • Sheffield

Could these stations be ones, where East Midlands Railway will not be emitting any CO2?

For a bi-mode train to be compliant, it must be able to pass through the station using battery power alone.

  • As the train decelerates, it charges the onboard batteries, using regernerative braking.
  • Battery power is used whilst the train is in the station.
  • Battery power is used to take the train out of the station.

Diesel power would only be used well outside of stations.

How would the trains for the secondary routes be emission-friendly?

  • For the long Norwich to Derby and Nottingham to Liverpool routes, these would surely be run by shorter versions of the main line trains.
  • For Stadler, if secondary routes were to be run using Class 755 trains, the battery option would be added, so that there was no need to run the diesel engines in stations.
  • For Bombardier, they may offer battery Aventras or shortened bi-modes for the secondary routes, which could also be emission-free in stations.
  • There is also the joker of Porterbrook’s battery-enhaced Class 350 train or BatteryFLEX.

I think that with the right rolling-stock, East Midlands Railway, could be able to avoid running diesel engines in all the stations, where they call.

Why Are Abellio Running A Hydrogen Trial?

This is a question that some might will ask, so I’m adding a few reasons.

A Train Manufacturer Wants To Test A Planned Hydrogen Train

I think that it could be likely, that a train manufacturer wants to trial a hydrogen-powered variant of a high-speed train.

Consider.

  • The Midland Main Line is about 160 miles long.
  • A lot of the route is quadruple-track.
  • It is a 125 mph railway for a proportion of the route.
  • It has only a few stops.
  • It is reasonably straight with gentle curves.
  • Part of the route is electrified.
  • It is connected to London at one end.

In my view the Midland Main Line is an ideal test track for bi-mode high speed trains.

A Train Manufacturer Wants To Sell A Fleet Of High Speed Trains

If a train manufacturer said to Abellio, that the fleet of diesel bi-mode trains they are buying could be updated to zero-carbon hydrogen bi-modes in a few years, this could clinch the sale.

Helping with a trial, as Abellio did at Manningtree with Bombardier’s battery Class 379 train in 2015, is probably mutually-beneficial.

The Midland Main Line Will Never Be Fully Electrified

I believe that the Midland Main Line will never be fully-electrified.

  • The line North of Derby runs through the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Would UNESCO allow electrification?
  • I have been told by drivers, that immediately South of Leicester station, there is a section, that would be very difficult to electrify.
  • Some secondary routes like Corby to Leicester via Oakham might be left without electrification.

But on the other hand some sections will almost certainly be electrified.

  • Around Toton, where High Speed Two crosses the Midland Main Line and the two routes will share East Midlands Hub station.
  • Between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield, where the route will be shared with the Sheffield Spur of High Speed Two.
  • The Erewash Valley Line, if High Speed Two trains use that route to Sheffield.

The Midland Main Line will continue to need bi-mode trains and in 2040, when the Government has said, that diesel will not be used on UK railways,

It is my view, that to run after 2040, there are only two current methods of zero-carbon propulsion; on the sections without overhead electrification battery or hydrogen power.

So we should run trials for both!

Abellio Know About Hydrogen

Abellio is Dutch and after my trip to the Netherlands last week, I wrote The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen, which describes how the Dutch are developing a green hydrogen economy, where the hydrogen is produced by electricity generated from wind power.

So by helping with the trial of hydrogen bi-mode trains on the Midland Main Line, are Abellio increasing their knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of hydrogen-powered trains.

In Thoughts On Eurostar To North Netherlands And North West Germany, I  proposed running bi-mode trains on the partially-electrified route between Amsterdam and Hamburg via Groningen and Bremen, which would be timed to connect to Eurostar’s services between London and Amsterdam. These could use diesel, hydrogen or battery power on the sections without electrification.

If hydrogen or battery power were to be used on the European bi-mode train, It would be possible to go between Sheffield and Hamburg on a zero-carbon basis, if all electric power to the route were to be provided from renewable sources.

Abellio Sees The PR Value In Running Zero-Carbon Trains

In My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint, I talked about running hydrogen-powered trains on a hundred mile lines at 60 mph over the flat German countrside

The Midland Main Line is a real high speed railway, where trains go at up to 125 mph between two major cities, that are one-hundred-and-sixty miles apart.

Powered by hydrogen, this could be one of the world’s great railway journeys.

If hydrogen-power is successful, Abellio’s bottom line would benefit.

Conclusion

This franchise will be a big improvement in terms of  carbon emissions.

As I said the choice of trains probably lies between Bombardier and Stadler.

But be prepared for a surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments