The Anonymous Widower

Are Hydrogen-Fuelled Vehicles A Waste Of Our Time And Energy?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Engineering & Technology, which is the magazine of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. So it should be authoritative.

This is the concluding paragraph.

Cars account for 61 per cent of surface transport emissions, HGVs only 17 per cent, buses 3 per cent, and rail 2 per cent (CCC, December 2020) so for cost/benefit it cannot be worthwhile switching to hydrogen fuel cell buses and trains. Through any impartial lens of engineering science, hydrogen fuel cell cars do not appear to be a transport winner and the Government should revisit decisions it has made about related funding. But then there is political virtue signalling.

It is a must-read contribution to the debate, as to whether hydrogen or battery power, is best for surface transport.

I don’t believe there is a simple answer, because for some applications, battery electric power is not feasible because of reasons of power or range.

  • Would a battery-electric truck, be able to haul a forty-four tonne load between the Channel Tunnel and Scotland?
  • Would a battery-electric locomotive be able to haul a thousand tonne aggregate or stone train for anything but a few tens of miles?
  • Is it possible to design a a battery-electric double-deck bus, that can carry seventy passengers?

I believe there are applications, where battery-electric is not a feasible alternative to the current diesel traction.

It is worth noting, that truck-maker; Daimler is planning to have both battery and hydrogen heavy trucks in its product line.

Users will choose, what is the best zero-carbon transport for their needs.

The Black Cab Driver’s Answer

It is always said, that, if you want to know the answer to a difficult question, you ask the opinion of a black cab driver.

So as the new electric black taxis, are the most common electric vehicle, that the average Londoner uses, what do the guys up-front say about their expensive vehicles.

  • Regularly, cab drivers complain to me about the range and having to use the diesel engine to charge the battery or power the car.
  • Some suggest to me, that hydrogen might be a better way to make the vehicles zero-carbon.

I think they may have a point about hydrogen being a better method of powering a black taxi, when you look at the pattern of journeys and the battery size and charging limitations of the vehicle.

These limitations may reduce in the future, as the technology gets better, with higher density batteries and faster charging.

We could even see a design and sales war between battery and hydrogen black cabs.

It always pays to follow the money!

February 17, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Italy’s Hardest-Hit Covid-19 Region To Become ‘Hydrogen Valley’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Energy Live News.

This is the first paragraphs.

Lombardy, Italy’s hardest-hit Covid-19 region, will soon become home to the ‘country’s first hydrogen valley’.

Enel Green Power has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Italian transport group FNM, to purchase new hydrogen-powered trains, replace the current diesel-powered trains and build hydrogen production facilities powered by renewable energy.

These facilities will be constructed to support the journeys of hydrogen trains.

It sounds like good thinking.

February 7, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Health, Hydrogen, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Germany Tasks TÜV With Finding Standards For H2 Trains

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

TÜV Rheinland InterTraffic has been commissioned to develop a standard for hydrogen applications in rail vehicles. Until now, authorities have had to rely on technical regulations and standards from the automotive industry for conformity assessments.

As hydrogen trains have entered service in Germany and have been trialled on rail networks in Austria, Italy, The Netherlands and the UK, this is probably about time, especially as Spain and Switzerland will soon be joining the club.

As most of Europe has the same loading gauge, it looks to me that the German standard will be a de-facto European standard, that could also be used for countries like Australia, Canada and the United States.

But in the UK, we have a smaller loading gauge, so will the German standard be application to the UK?

As some German S-bahn trains are not much bigger than say a Siemens-built Class 700 train, I suspect that the Germans could write a dual standard, that covered the following.

  • Standard UK-sized trains.
  • Standard EU-sized trains.
  • Standard German S-bajm-sized trains.

After all, if it could be arranged, one world-wide standard would probably be a good idea.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , | Leave a comment

Alstom Calls For Hydrogen Rail Fleets In The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2View.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Alstom has called for a £10bn investment programme in UK rail and mass transit systems, through which it would like fleets of clean, zero emission hydrogen trains to replace pouting diesel alternatives.

Titled: The UK’s New Green Age; A Step Change in Transport Decarbonisation, the report states that 300-400 hydrogen trains could be launched simply with a like for like replacement of diesels and would deliver huge environmental benefits.

The report was released after recent research revealed that the UK is lagging behind surrounding countries in comparable infrastructure. For example, France has over double the number of mass transit systems as the UK, whilst Germany has four.

There is a rapidly developing argument between the proposers of hydrogen and battery trains.

Consider.

  • Both types of train can ve a straight replacement for diesel trains, often with very little modification to stations.
  • As both hydrogen and battery trains have electric traction, they could have improved performance, so tracks and signalling might need upgrades to make full use of that performance to provide a better service for passengers.
  • Hydrogen trains will need a refuelling strategy.
  • Hydrogen trains need to carry a large tank of hydrogen.
  • Battery trains may well need charging systems or extra lengths of electrification for charging.
  • The UK will have plenty of green hydrogen and zero carbon electricity.

I also believe that hydrogen and battery trains designed from scratch will be much better than conversions of existing stock.

Conclusion

I think the environment will win this argument.

I can see cost and local circumstances deciding, whether to use battery or hydrogen trains.

For instance, Ipswich and Norwich, where there are an electrified main lines, might become battery train hubs, whereas Middlesbrough, where there is a plentiful supply of hydrogen, might use hydrogen trains for local services.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Shooter Urges Caution On Hydrogen Hubris

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the January 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter has urges caution about the widespread enthusiasm for hydrogen technology. In his keynote speech to the Golden Spanner Awards on 27 November, Mr. Shooter said the process to create ‘green hydrogen’ by electrolysis is ‘a wasteful use of electricity’ and was skeptical about using electricity to create hydrogen to then use a fuel cell to power a train, rather than charging batteries to power a train. ‘What you will discover is that a hydrogen train uses 3.5 times as much electricity because of inefficiencies in the electrolysis process and also in the fuel cells’ said Mr. Shooter. He also noted the energy density of hydrogen at 350 bar is only one-tenth of a similar quantity of diesel fuel, severely limiting the range of a hydrogen-powered train between refuelling.

Mr. Shooter then made the following points.

  • The complexity of delivering hydrogen to the railway depots.
  • The shorter range available from the amount of hydrogen that can be stored on a train compared to the range of a diesel train.
  • He points out limitations with the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

This is the last paragraph.

Whilst this may have seemed like a challenge designed purely to promote the battery alternatives that Vivarail is developing, and which he believes to be more efficient, Mr. Shooter explained: ‘I think that hydrogen fuel cell trains could work in this country, but people just need to remember that there are downsides. I’m sure we’ll see some, and in fact we should because competition improves the breed.’

i think Mr. Shooter may have made several good points.

These are my thoughts.

Creating Green Hydrogen

I haven’t done an analysis of the costs of creating green hydrogen from electrolysis, but I have a feeling, that electrolysis won’t be the only way to create large amounts of carbon-free hydrogen, in a few years.

These methods are currently available or under development or construction.

  • The hydrogen tram-buses in Pau have a personal electrolyser, that provides hydrogen at 350 bar.
  • London’s hydrogen buses will be provided with hydrogen from an electrolyser at Herne Bay by truck. Will the trucks be hydrogen-powered?

Some industrial processes like the Castner-Kellner process create hydrogen as a by-product.

In Shell Process To Make Blue Hydrogen Production Affordable, I describe the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which appears to be a way of making massive amounts of carbon-free hydrogen for processes like steel-making and cement production. Surely some could be piped or transported by truck to the rail depot.

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I describe how ITM Power and Ørsted plan to create the hydrogen off shore and bring it by pipeline to the shore.

Note.

  1. The last two methods could offer savings in the cost of production of carbon-free hydrogen.
  2. Surely, the delivery trucks if used, must be hydrogen-powered.
  3. The Shell Blue Hydrogen Process uses natural gas as a feedstock and converts it to hydrogen using a newly-developed catalyst. The carbon-dioxide is captured and used or stored.
  4. If the local gas network has been converted to hydrogen, the hydrogen can be delivered to the depot or filling station through that gas network.

I very much feel that affordable hydrogen can be supplied to bus, train, tram or transport depot. For remote or difficult locations. personal electrolysers, powered by renewable electricity, can be used, as at Pau.

Hydrogen Storage On Trains

Liquid hydrogen could be the answer and Airbus are developing methods of storing large quantities on aircraft.

In What Size Of Hydrogen Tank Will Be Needed On A ZEROe Turbofan?, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed for this ZEROe Turbofan.

I calculate that to carry the equivalent amount of fuel to an Airbus A320neo would need a liquid hydrogen tank with a near 100 cubic metre capacity. This sized tank would fit in the rear fuselage.

I feel that in a few years, a hydrogen train will be able to carry enough liquid hydrogen in a fuel tank, but the fuel tank will be large.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed to provide the same amount of energy as that carried in a full diesel tank on a Class 68 locomotive.

The locomotive would need 19,147 litres or 19.15 cubic metres of liquid hydrogen, which could be contained in a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 2 metres and a length of 6 metres.

Hydrogen Locomotives Or Multiple Units?

We have only seen first generation hydrogen trains so far.

This picture shows the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is a conversion of a Coradia Lint.

It is a so-so train and works reasonably well, but the design means there is a lot of transmission noise.

This is a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze or Class 600 train.

Note that the front half of the first car of the train, is taken up with a large hydrogen tank. It will be the same at the other end of the train.

As Mr. Shooter said, Alstom are converting a three-car train into a two-car train. Not all conversions live up to the hype of their proposers.

I would hope that the next generation of a hydrogen train designed from scratch, will be a better design.

I haven’t done any calculations, but I wonder if a lighter weight vehicle may be better.

Hydrogen Locomotives

I do wonder, if hydrogen locomotives are a better bet and easier to design!

  • There is a great need all over the world for zero-carbon locomotives to haul freight trains.
  • Powerful small gas-turbine engines, that can run on liquid hydrogen are becoming available.
  • Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW gas-turbine generator, that is the size of a beer-keg.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I wondered if the Rolls-Royce generator could power a locomotive, the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that there are several routes to a hydrogen-powered railway locomotive and all the components could be fitted into the body of a diesel locomotive the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

Consider.

  • Decarbonising railway locomotives and ships could be a large market.
  • It offers the opportunities of substantial carbon reductions.
  • The small size of the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator must offer advantages.
  • Some current diesel-electric locomotives might be convertible to hydrogen power.

I very much feel that companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins (and Caterpillar!), will move in and attempt to claim this lucrative worldwide market.

In the UK, it might be possible to convert some existing locomotives to zero-carbon, using either liquid hydrogen, biodiesel or aviation biofuel.

Perhaps, hydrogen locomotives could replace Chiltern Railways eight Class 68 locomotives.

  • A refuelling strategy would need to be developed.
  • Emissions and noise, would be reduced in Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations.
  • The rakes of carriages would not need any modifications to use existing stations.

It could be a way to decarbonise Chiltern Railways without full electrification.

It looks to me that a hydrogen-powered locomotive has several advantages over a hydrogen-powered multiple unit.

  • It can carry more fuel.
  • It can be as powerful as required.
  • Locomotives could work in pairs for more power.
  • It is probably easier to accommodate the hydrogen tank.
  • Passenger capacity can be increased, if required by adding more coaches.

It should also be noted that both hydrogen locomotives and multiple units can build heavily on technology being developed for zero-carbon aviation.

The Upward Curve Of Battery Power

Sparking A Revolution is the title an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is mainly an interview with  Andrew Barr of Hitachi Rail.

The article contains a box, called Costs And Power, where this is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2030 and £47/kWh in 3030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) are predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1400 Wh/l in 2-35, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

These are impressive improvements that can only increase the performance and reduce the cost of batteries in all applications.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This infographic gives the specification of Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which they are creating in partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation.

Note that Hitachi are promising a battery life of 8-10 years.

Financing Batteries

This paragraph is from this page on BuyaCar, which is entitled Electric Car Battery Leasing: Should I Lease Or Buy The Batteries?

When you finance or buy a petrol or diesel car it’s pretty simple; the car will be fitted with an engine. However, with some electric cars you have the choice to finance or buy the whole car, or to pay for the car and lease the batteries separately.

I suspect that battery train manufacturers, will offer similar finance models for their products.

This paragraph is from this page on the Hyperdrive Innovation web site.

With a standardised design, our modular product range provides a flexible and scalable battery energy storage solution. Combining a high-performance lithium-ion NMC battery pack with a built in Battery Management System (BMS) our intelligent systems are designed for rapid deployment and volume manufacture, supplying you with class leading energy density and performance.

I can envisage that as a battery train ages, every few years or so, the batteries will get bigger electrically, but still be the same physical size, due to the improvements in battery technology, design and manufacture.

I have been involved in the finance industry both as a part-owner of a small finance company and as a modeller of the dynamics of their lending. It looks to me, that train batteries could be a very suitable asset for financing by a fund. But given the success of energy storage funds like Gore Street and Gresham House, this is not surprising.

I can envisage that battery electric trains will be very operator friendly, as they are likely to get better with age and they will be very finance-friendly.

Charging Battery Trains

I must say something about the charging of battery trains.

Battery trains will need to be charged and various methods are emerging.

Using Existing Electrification

This will probably be one of the most common methods used, as many battery electric services will be run on partly on electrified routes.

Take a typical route for a battery electric train like London Paddington and Oxford.

  • The route is electrified between London Paddington and Didcot Junction.
  • There is no electrification on the 10.4 miles of track between Didcot Junction and Oxford.

If a full battery on the train has sufficient charge to take the train from Didcot Junction to Oxford and back, charging on the main line between London Paddington and Didcot Junction, will be all that will be needed to run the service.

I would expect that in the UK, we’ll be seeing battery trains using both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

Short Lengths Of New Strategic Electrification

I think that Great Western Railway would like to run either of Hitachi’s two proposed battery electric trains to Swansea.

As there is 45.7 miles pf track without .electrification, some form of charging in Swansea station, will probably be necessary.

The easiest way would probably be to electrify Swansea station and perhaps for a short distance to the North.

This Google Map shows Swansea station and the railway leading North.

Note.

  1. There is a Hitachi Rail Depot at the Northern edge of the map.
  2. Swansea station is in South-West corner of the map.
  3. Swansea station has four platforms.

Swansea station would probably make an excellent battery train hub, as trains typically spend enough time in the station to fully charge the batteries before continuing.

There are other tracks and stations of the UK, that I would electrify to enable the running of battery electric trains.

  • Leeds and York, which would enable carbon-free London and Edinburgh services via Leeds and help TransPennine services. This is partially underway.
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – These two sections would enable EMR InterCity services to go battery electric.
  • Sheffield and Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley Dearne Valley and the Wakefield Line, which would enable four trains per hour (tph) between Sheffield and Leeds and an extension of EMR InterCity services to Leeds.
  • Hull and Brough, would enable battery electric services to Hull and Beverley.
  • Scarborough and Seamer, would enable electric services services to Scarborough and between Hull and Scarborough.
  • Middlesbrough and Redcar, would enable electric services services to Teesside.
  • Crewe and Chester and around Llandudno Junction station – These two sections would enable Avanti West Coast service to Holyhead to go battery electric.
  • Shrewsbury station – This could become a battery train hub, as I talked about for Swansea.
  • Taunton and Exeter and around Penzance, Plymouth and Westbury stations – These three sections would enable Great Western Railway to cut a substantial amount of carbon emissions.
  • Exeter, Yeovil Junction and Salisbury stations. – Electrifying these three stations would enable South Western Railway to run between London and Exeter using Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, as I wrote in Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints.

We will also need fast chargers for intermediate stations, so that a train can charge the batteries on a long route.

I know of two fast chargers under development.

I believe it should be possible to battery-electrify a route by doing the following.

  • Add short lengths of electrification and fast charging systems as required.
  • Improve the track, so that trains can use their full performance.
  • Add ERTMS signalling.
  • Add some suitable trains.

Note.

  1. I feel ERTMS  signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be used with automatic charging systems, to make station stops more efficient.
  2. In my view, there is no point in installing better modern trains, unless the track is up to their performance.

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Talgo Unveils Plan To Have Vittal-One Hydrogen Train Operational By 2023

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

This is the most important paragraph of the report.

The company explained that the fuel cell technology it designed for its train is modular. In this way, the tech can be installed on any type of existing train. In this way, the transition away from diesel and into hydrogen fuel. That said, Talgo did underscore that its Vittal platform was the primary reason for which the H2 solution was designed. The company is hoping to win several Spanish tenders, as well as those in other countries, for this regional and commuter train.

Talgo hopes to start testing their train next year.

They certainly seem to have got their skates on, or whatever the Spanish say!

A Hydrogen Train For Scotland

Consider.

  • Scotland has a major need for a large number of zero-carbon trains to decarbonise routes outside the Central Belt, which is extensively electrified.
  • Talgo are building a factory at Longannet in Scotland.
  • Talgo’s Vittal-One train has a modular hydrogen traction system, but the train is designed for European standards.
  • This page on the Talgo web site, describes the design philosophy behind the Talgo Vittal. After reading that page, I feel  Talgo could build a version of the train for the UK. There are already standard gauge versions in Germany and they’d just need to make a different body, that was about a 100 mm. narrower.
  • The Talgo Vittal is a 100 mph train, which is what Scotland needs.

So I feel that Talgo have the technology to build a hydrogen-powered regional train for the UK. And the island of Ireland, which uses a 1600 mm track gauge, which is not far from the Iberian gauge of 1668 mm gauge!

The question has to be asked about, when Talgo chose the location for the factory, were there any nods and winks with the Scottish Government about the country’s future train needs?

It certainly appears that Scotland has the need and the hydrogen, and Talgo has the technology, to decarbonise the railways North and South of the Central Belt in Scotland.

 

December 2, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Fuel Cell Mireo Plus H To Be Trialled In Baden-Württemberg

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Deutsche Bahn and Siemens Mobility are to trial a fuel cell powered regional trainset in revenue service between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim in 2024, along with a green hydrogen fuelling plant.

These two paragraphs describe the train.

Siemens Mobility is to supply a two-car Mireo Plus H trainset derived from its Mireo Plus regional multiple-unit family, equipped with a newly developed hydrogen fuel cell drive and a lithium-ion battery.

The 1·7 MW traction power rating is expected to offer a comparable performance to the electric version, with an acceleration rate of 1·1 m/s² and a maximum speed of 160 km/h. Sufficient hydrogen will be stored onboard to give an operating range of up to 600 km, with the promoters envisaging that a three-car variant could have a range of 1 000 km.

The article doesn’t say anything about, whether the train can use electrification, but as the train is based on a conventional electric train, I would assume it is possible.

 

November 26, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Italian Operator Orders Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trains

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Alstom is to supply Ferrovie Nord Milano with six hydrogen fuel cell multiple-units for use by the Lombardia regional operator’s Ferrovienord subsidiary on the non-electrified Brescia – Iseo – Edolo line from 2023.

The trains will be based on the Alstom Coradia Stream train, with technology coming from the Alstom Coradia iLint

 

November 26, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , | Leave a comment

Talgo: Our Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023

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

This sentence from the opening paragraph, gives and explains the name.

The train will be called Talgo Vittal-One, which Talgo says is a reference to hydrogen’s atomic number.

It appears to be a commuter and regional train.

November 26, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , | 1 Comment

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the opening paragraph.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast Main Line services.

Some other points from the article.

  • It appears that LNER would like to eliminate diesel traction if possible.
  • On-board energy storage is mentioned.
  • No form of power appears to be ruled out, including hydrogen.
  • LNER have all 65 of their Azumas in service.

The last paragraph is very informative.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2021) from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour, out of Kings Cross, compared to five today. As an interim measure, LNER is retaining seven rakes of Mk 4 coaches hauled by 12 Class 91 locomotives to supplement the Azuma fleet and support its timetable ambitions until the new trains are delivered.

These are my thoughts.

More Azumas?

Surely, It would require a very innovative train at perhaps a rock-bottom price from another manufacturer, for LNER to not acquire extra Azumas.

Classic-Compatible Trains For High Speed Two

Consider.

  • Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens and Talgo are involved in the competition to design Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two.
  • As the York and Edinburgh section of the East Coast Main Line will eventually be upgraded and used by High Speed Two services,
  • Also in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, is an article entitled 140 mph Plan For ECML North of York, which details improvements proposed by Northern Powerhouse Rail to improve services between Leeds and Edinburgh.

Would there be advantages to High Speed Two, LNER and Network Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail, to have some commonality between the  High Speed Two, LNER and Northern Powerhouse Rail fleets?

Hopefully, the various government-controlled companies are talking.

A Flagship Train For Aberdeen And Inverness

The InterCity 225s, which consist of a Class 91 locomotive and a rake of nine Mark 4 coaches, have given thirty years of top-quality service on the East Coast Main Line and appear to be being asked to handle services until the new trains are delivered.

  • Full-length InterCity 225s are 245 metres long and have 406 Standard and 129 First seats or a total of 535 seats.
  • Nine-car Azumas are 234 metres long and have 510 Standard and 101 First seats or a total of 611 seats.
  • Two five-car Azumas working as a pair are 260 metres long and have 604 seats. They can also be handled on most platforms, that are used by LNER.
  • The power of a Class 91 locomotive is 4.83 MW.
  • A Class 91 locomotive is 19.4 metres long and weighs 81.5 tonnes.
  • Both Azumas and InterCity 225s can maintain 125 mph with ease on the East Coast Main Line and both will be able to reach 140 mph with in-cab signalling.

There would appear to be nothing wrong with locomotive-hauled high speed services, in terms of capacity and performance.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I laid out my thoughts on a high-powered railway locomotive fuelled by hydrogen, that used one or possibly two Rolls-Royce gas-turbine engines to generate electricity for traction.

With all the work done, by the companies bidding for Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two, into very high speed trains, I believe that at least one company could build a locomotive with this specification.

  • 140 mph operation on 25 KVAC overhead electrification. As I said, that was done by British Rail almost forty years ago.
  • Ability to use full digital in-cab signalling. This is on its way and already working in some applications.
  • 110 mph operation on hydrogen. Hitachi are planning 100 mph battery trains, so it should be possible.
  • 400 mile range on one filling of hydrogen. This is working in Germany.
  • Ability to be upgraded to higher speeds on electric power, should the East Coast Main Line be upgraded for higher speeds in the future. The train manufacturers are probably ahead of track designers with this one.

Such a locomotive would be key to building a train with this specification.

  • Sub-four hour time between London and Edinburgh.
  • Sub-seven hour time between London and Aberdeen, which has 130 miles without wires.
  • Sub-eight hour time between London and Inverness, which has 146 miles without wires.
  • Hydrogen would be used, where there is no electrification.
  • Zero-carbon at all times.
  • A maximum length of 260 metres, which I estimate could give a passenger capacity of around 640 seats.
  • The last coach would include a driving van trailer.
  • They would not need the ability to split and join, except for the purpose of rescue, as there is no platform on the route, that could accommodate the resulting 520 metre long pair of trains.

I estimate that a fleet of around seven trains would be needed to run the current Aberdeen and Inverness services.

A few extra thoughts.

  • Could they have an up-market more spacious interior, as their main competition to the North of Scotland, would be the budget airlines?
  • Could they be slightly longer, with some platform work at Kings Cross and other stations?
  • Add a few extra trains to the order, so that extra services between London and Edinburgh could be added to the timetable.
  • Could the driving van trailer incorporate an observation car?
  • Hydrogen refuelling shouldn’t be a problem in Scotland, as the country is developing a hydrogen economy.
  • Hydrogen refuelling wouldn’t be needed in England, as they’d be using the electrification.
  • As an alternative to hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel could be used.

I suspect that Talgo, would be very happy to tender.

  • They are developing hydrogen-powered trains as I wrote in Talgo: Our Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023.
  • They are building a factory in Scotland, close to the Forth Bridge.
  • Because of the factory, Talgo probably have the ear of the Scottish Government, who would probably welcome a Scottish-built train.
  • A shorter version of these trains without the hydrogen, could be the design for a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, for which Talgo, are on the short list of suppliers.

What better way, would there be to sell your hydrogen-powered high speed trains, than to give prospective clients a ride up from London to the factory in the luxury version?

A New Elizabethan

I can remember The Elizabethan, which was a steam-hauled non-stop express between London and Edinburgh between 1953 and 1961.

  • The steam-hauled train took six-hours-and-a-half.
  • It used to be the longest non-stop railway service in the world.
  • Today, the service could be run by the current or refurbished Azumas or perhaps a new flagship train, built for the service.
  • It could be easily under four hours.

It could be an interesting concept, to increase capacity between London and Edinburgh.

Splitting And Joining

Some of LNER’s philosophy to serve places like Harrogate, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough, depends on the ability to split and join trains.

A pair of Azumas could leave London and go to Leeds, where they would split, with one train going to Harrogate and the other going to Huddersfield.

When returning to London, the two trains would join at Leeds.

The big advantage of splitting and joining, is that it increases the capacity on the main line, as services can be arranged, so that every path always carries a full-length train. I would expect that LNER would prefer never to run a single five-car Azuma into Kings Cross.

Currently LNER have these paths to and from Kings Cross.

  • 2 tph between London Kings Cross and Leeds
  • 1 tph between London Kings Cross and Lincoln and East Yorkshire
  • 2 tph between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh

Note.

  1. LNER have already started to extend services from Leeds, so will we see splitting and joining being used on one tph at Leeds to provide services to several destinations, throughout the day.
  2. Splitting and joining at Edinburgh is surely another possibility, to serve Stirling and Glasgow, with the same train.
  3. Splitting and joining at York could serve destinations like Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Redcar, Scarborough and Sunderland.
  4. In A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020, I advocated splitting at Grantham station to serve both Nottingham and Lincoln.

There are a lot of possibilities for splitting and joining.

As LNER has a fleet of twenty-two five-car Azumas, if the new trains are needed to split and join on certain services, this might mean more five-car Azumas are a better buy.

What Will Happen To Nine Car Azumas?

Hitachi have launched the Regional Battery Train concept, the specification of which is given in this Hitachi infographic.

The diesel engines in LNER’s Class 800 trains will be able to be replaced with batteries, making them all-electric trains.

  • Destinations like Cleethorpes, Dundee, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough Nottingham, Perth, Redcar, Scarborough, Sheffield and Sunderland will be within range of battery electric Azumas.
  • Some destinations would need the ability to charge the train before it returned, but I can see lots of places getting an appropriate service, even if it was just one or two trains per day.
  • Unfortunately, Aberdeen and Inverness would be too far for battery electric Azumas, so services will still need to be run by nine-car bi-mode Azumas.

Five-car battery electric Azumas working in pairs from London could be the key to increasing LNER services.

I can see that LNER may end up with too many nine-car Azumas, if nine-car trains are replaced by pairs of five-car trains to serve two destinations by splitting and joining.

Would it be possible to shorten nine-car Azumas to five-car trains?

These are the formations of the two trains.

  • nine-car: DPTS-MS-MS-TS-MS-TS-MC-MF-DPTF
  • five-car: DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF

It is known, that the trains have a computer, that does a quick check on start-up to determine, what cars are present and correct in the train.

  • This means that if LNER needed twelve-car trains for say London and Edinburgh, they could create a sub-fleet by just buying the requisite number of extra TS (Trailer Standard) and MS (Motor Standard) cars and coupling them up.
  • This feature also means that operators running fleets of five-car Hitachi trains, like TransPennine Express and Hull Trains can increase capacity by just purchasing the extra cars.
  • It would also allow, cars to be shuffled to create viable trains, after say several cars were damaged by vandalism.

All trains these days seem to have this very operator-friendly feature.

With LNER’s trains, I suspect that all cars of the same type are identical.

This would mean, that a nine-car train can be converted to a five-car by removing two TS (Trailer Standard), one MS (Motor Standard) and one MF (Motor First) cars.

The four cars, that have been removed could be reconfigured to form the middle three cars of a new five-car train, which would be completed by adding new DPTS (Driver Pantograph Trailer Standard) and DPTF (Driver Pantograph Trailer First) cars.

An Increase In Paths From 5 To 6.5

This will certainly allow LNER to run more services.

The odd half path could be easy to explain.

  • Hull is a city, that is on the up.
  • I suspect that it could support a five-car direct service from London with a frequency of one tph.
  • But Hull Trains are also running a successful service on the route.

Perhaps a fair solution, would be to allow both LNER and Hull Trains to run a one train per two hour (tp2h) service.

If LNER didn’t want to use the path to just run a five-car train to Hull, there are several possibilities for a split and join.

  • With a Cleethorpes, Lincoln or Nottingham service at Grantham.
  • With a Cleethorpes or Lincoln service at Newark.
  • With a Cleethorpes, Middlesbrough, Sheffield or Sunderland service at Doncaster.

I can only see splitting and joining increasing, which surely means an Azuma order is more likely.

As someone, who spent a working life, writing software to schedule projects, I can’t resist speculating on what to do with the extra whole path, that LNER will be allocated, when the infrastructure allows.

  • Many travellers wouldn’t mind LNER providing more seats between the English and Scottish capitals.
  • Many would like an alternative to flying.
  • Others would like a faster service.
  • Leeds and York will soon be a route, that LNER’s Azumas will be able to use without diesel, because of extra electrification and Azumas with traction batteries.

This leads me to believe that LNER could use the extra path for a third London and Edinburgh service in every hour, that ran via Leeds.

  • Additionally, it might stop at stations like Peterborough, York, Darlington or Newcastle.
  • It could also provide a non-stop London and Leeds service.
  • Some services could go non-stop between London and Edinburgh.
  • The direct London and Edinburgh service would be under four hours.
  • Going via Leeds would add under an hour.

It would be run by a nine-car all-electric Azumas, of which there will be unlikely to be a shortage.

How Many Azumas Could Be Fitted With Batteries Instead Of Diesel Engines?

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

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.

Consider.

  • Class 807 trains for Aventi West Coast will have no batteries or diesel engines. Does this save weight?
  • Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains will only have a small battery for emergency hotel power, in case of catenary failure. Does this save weight?
  • Saving weight should improve acceleration and deceleration, which could reduce journey times.
  • Removal of diesel engines would reduce the trains carbon footprint.
  • Removal of diesel engines could reduce maintenance costs.
  • Diesel engines are only needed for services that run North of Edinburgh. Other sections without electrification are probably within battery range or could be easily made so.
  • It appears every Motor car (MC, MF and MS) can be fitted with a diesel engine, although in Class 801 trains, only one is fitted. Does that mean that every Motor car in the future, could have a battery?

I think this could lead to the following.

  • The Class 801 trains are fitted with sufficient batteries to enable handling of expected emergencies. These could be similar to those in the Class 803 trains.
  • Enough nine-car Class 800 trains would be kept with diesel engines to work the Aberdeen and Inverness services. These routes at 130 and 146 miles without wires are too long for battery trains, without a succession of chargers along the routes.
  • If a third Edinburgh service were to be introduced, could some of the remainder of the nine-car Class 800 trains be converted to Class 801 trains, by removing the diesel engines?
  • I would expect most of the five-car thirty-six Class 800 trains would be fitted with batteries to run services to destinations, that can be reached on battery power. In a few years time, these will probably mean splitting and joining at Edinburgh, Leeds and other places.
  • Could we even see the twelve five-car Class 801 trains converted to battery electric Class 800 trains, which would surely give maximum flexibility about their use?

If the software on the trains, is as intelligent as it could be and can accept cars with diesel engines, batteries or no extra power, then LNER will have an enormous amount of flexibility, to configure the trains as they need.

I could even see a nine-car Class 800 train with a mix of batteries and diesel engines, that can be used as range extenders, reaching further towards Aberdeen and Inverness.

Consider a five-car Class 800 train with two batteries and a single diesel engine!

  • If I assume that Hitachi’s specification for the Regional Battery Train, is for a five-car train with three diesel engines replaced with battery packs, then a two battery pack train could have a range of 60 km or 37 miles.
  • If the route wasn’t very challenging, and the computer made judicious use of the diesel engine, could the train’s range be extended to beyond the ninety kilometres of the three-battery pack train.
  • The diesel engine could also be used to charge the batteries, before returning to the electrification of the main line.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I talked about Adrian Shooter and his concept of a Pop-Up Metro, run for perhaps a year, to test if a Metro service would be viable, instead of spending the money on consultants.

The two-battery pack/one diesel Class 800 train, could run a Pop-Up London Service to test the need for a London service. All it would need is a convenient platform long enough to take a 130 metre long Class 800 train.

Possible destinations to test could include Cleethorpes, Dundee, Glenrothes-with-Thornton, Grimsby, Nottingham, Norwich, Perth, Redcar, Sheffield and Sunderland

Conclusion

There is a lot of scope to develop LNER’s services.

I think it is likely that the order will go to Hitachi.

But as I indicated, I do believe that there is scope for a manufacturer to design a zero-carbon train, that was able to serve the Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • I suspect a fleet of ten trains would be sufficient.
  • Trains would use the 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it exists and hydrogen or battery power North of the wires.

The trains would also be capable of being upgraded to high speeds, should the East Coast Main Line be turned into a High Speed Line.

I also think, that whatever trains are bought, there will be a large upgrading of the existing Hitachi fleet, which will add batteries to a lot of trains.

November 25, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments