The Anonymous Widower

Arcola Showcases Scottish Hydrogen Conversion

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

The article has this sib-title.

Class 614 Demonstration Runs at Bo’ness Next Year

This is a key paragraph early in the article.

The aim is to build capability within the Scottish supply chain with a view to future conversion of hydrogen fleets within Scotland. The choice of a ‘314’ to provide the donor vehicles was based solely on availability, following the withdrawal of the EMU fleet by ScotRail at the end of 2019.

I don’t think they would have been my choice of donor train, as the Class 314 trains were built over forty years ago.

But, as Merseyrail have shown, British Rail trains of that era scrub up well.

The article is worth a full read and worth the cover price of the magazine, as it has details on the conversion and tips on how you might design a hydrogen train.

  • All the hydrogen tanks , fuel cells and batteries are designed to be fitted in the vehicle underframes and don’t take up space in the passenger compartment.
  • There is a fuel cell raft under both driving motor vehicles.
  • Each raft contains a 70 kW fuel cell from Ballard and hydrogen cylinders.
  • 40 kg. of hydrogen at a pressure of 350 bar can be carried in each raft.
  • Waste heat from the fuel cell is used to heat the train.
  • The DC traction motors have been replaced by modern three-phase AC motors.
  • The hydrogen fillers come from the automotive industry, which is surely an obvious move.
  • The interior looks good in the picture and has uses seats reclaimed from Pendolino refurbishment.

The article also reveals that Arcola are working with Arup on a study to convert a Class 158 DMU to hydrogen power.

Conclusion

I wish all the engineers and suppliers well, but I feel that these two projects are both driven by Scottish politics, rather than sound engineering principles.

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More On Alston’s Hydrogen Aventra and Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX

The December 2021 Edition of Modern Railways has a small article, which is entitled Alstom To Build Hydrogen Aventras.

This is an extract.

Fuel cells will be roof-mounted, and the trains will be powered by hydrogen in conjunction with batteries, without any additional power sources such as overhead electric or diesel. They could be in service in 2025.

I am surprised that the trains can’t use electrification, as surely this would be a great advantage.

Especially, as according to another article, which is entitled New HydroFlex Debuts At Cop, which describes Porterbrook’s converted ‘319’ says this.

The original HydroFlex unit, which like the latest version has been converted from a Class 319 EMU, made its main line debut in September 2020. Porterbrook has invested £8 million in HydroFlex with the new version built over the last 10 months.

Porterbrook says its ability to operate under hydrogen, electric and battery power makes it the world’s first ‘tri-mode’ train. One carriage within the train is given over to the ‘HydroChamber’.

The contents of the ‘HydroChamber’ are given as.

  • Storage for 277 Kg. of hydrogen in thirty-six high pressure tanks.
  • A 400 kW  fuel cell system.
  • A 400 kW lithium-ion battery, which can be charged by the fuel cells in 15 minutes.

Does this mean that the battery is a 100 kWh battery that can supply energy at a rate of 400 kW?

This sentence from the article describes the train’s performance.

Porterbrook says the train carries sufficient hydrogen to offer a range of 300 miles and a top speed of up to 100 mph.

A few years ago, I had a chat with a Northern driver about the Class 319 train, which he described as a fast train with good acceleration and superb brakes.

Have Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham just added the ‘HydroChamber’ as an on-board electricity source or have they gone for a full integrated system with new traction motors and regenerative braking to the battery?

The original Class 319 trains worked well without regenerative braking, so I suspect that the simple approach has been used.

But this would make the train ideal for branch lines and extensions without electrification from electrified lines. The following routes come to mind.

  • Blackpool South and Colne via Preston
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • The Borders Railway in Scotland.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra might be better on lines without any electrification at all.

Conclusion

My feeling is that both these trains have their good points and limitations and I suspect both will find their niche markets.

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hydrogen Train Refuelling Standard To Be Developed

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

This is the first paragraph.

A agreement to optimise hydrogen refuelling equipment for passenger trains and define an international standard has been signed by Alstom and the Hynamics hydrogen subsidiary of French energy group EDF.

This can only be a good thing.

November 21, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Teesside

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

Would this train be suitable for the local railways around Teesside?

Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails is a post based on an interview with Tees Valley Mayor; Ben Houchen in Rail Magazine.

Teesside is getting ready for hydrogen.

  • They have identified a site for a specialist depot for hydrogen-powered trains.
  • There is plenty of hydrogen available from chemical works in the area.

All they need is some trains and I think the Alston Hydrogen Aventras would fill the need admirably.

I also believe that with its history of heavy industry, steel and chemicals, the residents of Teesside and the Tees Valley would take to hydrogen trains.

I wrote Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails in January 2020 and since then the Department of Transport has funded a study to examine the extension of the Tees Valley Line past Bishop Auckland, which I wrote about in Reopening The Darlington – Weardale Line To Passenger Services.

On the subject of rolling stock for the Weardale Line, I said this in the Weardale Line post.

There is no point in extending the line in these days of global warming without providing zero-carbon trains.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority is keen on hydrogen and there are good reasons.

    • There is hydrogen available from chemical plants on Teesside.
    • Hydrogen will give the trains a long range.
    • The trains would probably only need refuelling once a day.
    • In addition, Alstom are looking for an order for their Class 600 train, which is a conversion of a Class 321 train.

But I have my doubts about Alstom’s trains and Hitachi have doubts about hydrogen.

Consider.

    • Do you really want to run hydrogen trains on a line where steam trains run?
    • Darlington station is fully-electrified and it is also to be remodelled for more capacity and High Speed Two.
    • Bishop Auckland and Darlington is just twelve miles.
    • Darlington and Saltburn is just thirty miles.

With charging systems at Bishop Auckland, Saltburn and Stanhope, I am fairly sure Hitachi could develop an electric train for Teesside’s railways.

When I wrote the Weardale Line post, I was veering towards the Hitachi battery-electric trains, but the launch of the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra may have changed that.

Conclusion

The new trains for Teesside could become a fight between Hitachi with their battery-electric trains and Alstom with their Hydrogen Aventras.

If there is a fight of the technologies, who wins on Teesside could be important in deciding the future of world-wide rail transport.

Is it slightly ironic, that this battle could be happening close to the birthplace of railways?

 

 

November 14, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And The Reopened Northumberland Line

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

Would this train be suitable for the Northumberland Line?

This is a caption to a picture in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Northumberland Line: Railway ‘Could Create Economic Powerhouse’.

The Northumberland Line could connect Blyth and Newcastle with half hourly services and journey times of under 25 minutes.

This timetable would mean that between two and four trains would be needed to provide the service.

In my posts on the Northumberland Line, I show a strong preference for battery-electric trains and in particular those proposed by Hitachi, which would be built in their factory at Newton Aycliffe, which is a dozen miles to the South. These trains would have batteries produced by Hyperdrive Innovation in Sunderland.

I dismissed hydrogen trains, as until this week no viable new hydrogen train for the UK rail network had been proposed.

But this week, Alstom announced their hydrogen-powered Aventra.

I suspect a small fleet of these trains could work the Northumberland Line.

My only reservation would be that their operating speed was in line with the speed needed on the short sections of the East Coast Main Line used by the Northumberland Line service.

 

November 14, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Extension Of The Birmingham Cross-City Line

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

In that post, decide that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are based on the three-car Class 730/0 trains that have been ordered by West Midlands Trains for Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

I then go on to say.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

Expansion plans are detailed a section called Future, in the Wikipedia entry for the Cross-City Line, where these plans are indicated.

In addition, the Walsall and Wolverhampton Line is being reopened to passenger trains.

These new and possibly other services will need no new tracks, but more electrification and extra new trains.

In 2015, I wrote Electrification May Be In Trouble Elsewhere, But The Brummies Keep Marching On, which looked at electrification progress in the UK and the Birmingham in particular, where the electrification of the Chase Line seemed to be going well. So unlike in some places, where electrification seems to be accident-prone, Birmingham seems to avoid the sort of problems, that happened in the Preston and Blackpool and GOBlin electrifications.

But the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra gives Birmingham and the West Midlands a unique advantage compared to say Leeds or Manchester.

Birmingham can obtain a unified fleet, which to the passengers and the drivers looks the same, but in fact are two separate classes of three-car trains;  the Class 730/0 electric train and the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

  • Where electrification exists, the Class 730/0 trains will be used and where there is no electrification, the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will work the route on hydrogen.
  • All that is needed is to provide good tracks and signalling and the Alstom Hydrogen Aventras will take you where you want to go.
  • Through the centre of Birmingham, these trains will use the existing electrification.
  • It would be a network, that would be simple to expand.

The only other English city to use a similar technique will be Liverpool, where Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains will use battery power outside of the electrified core.

Conclusion

If Birmingham uses their disused but still existing railway lines and adds new trains as required, they can create a world-class suburban network, with the Cross-City Line at its centre

 

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Great Western Branch Lines Between Paddington And Oxford

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

One reader suggested these lines in a comment, as they are all run by diesel Class 165 trains.

These are the lines, that could be converted to Hydrogen operation.

Greenford Branch

The branch runs between West Ealing and Greenford via Drayton Green, Castle Bar Park and South Greenford.

  • It has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).
  • The branch is 2.5 miles long.
  • Services take eleven minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. In GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line, I wrote about Great Western Railway’s plans to test battery-eclectic trains on this line.
  2. The platform at Greenford station may need lengthening to accommodate the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  3. It is my view that the branch needs four tph.
  4. It might also be possible to run Peak hour services to and from Paddington.

I do think that if the train length issue is solved that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

A two-car Class 230 train would certainly fit.

Windsor Branch

The branch runs between Slough and Windsor & Eton Central.

  • It has a frequency of three tph
  • The branch is 2.8 miles long.
  • Services take six minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. The extra capacity of the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be welcome.
  2. Prince Charles would like it.

I do think that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

Marlow Branch

The branch runs between Maidenhead and Marlow via Furze Platt, Cookham and Bourne End.

  • It has a frequency of one tph
  • The branch is 7.1 miles long.
  • Services take twenty-three minutes.
  • The service reverses at Bourne End.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note that the three-car Alstom Hydrogen Aventra may be too long to execute the reverse at Bourne End.

I do think that if the Bourne End problem can be solved that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

The two-car Class 165 train, that currently works the branch is 46 metres long, so a two-car battery-electric train may be needed for this branch. A two-car Class 230 train would certainly fit.

Regatta Line

The branch runs between Twyford and Henley-on-Thames via Wargrave and Shiplake.

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The branch is 4.6 miles long.
  • Services take twelve minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. If this line needed more capacity trains could be doubled up, as there are no length issues.
  2. It might also be possible to run Peak hour services to and from Paddington.

I do think that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

North Downs Line

The line runs between Reading and Gatwick Airport via Wokingham, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Blackwater, Farnborough North, North Camp, Ash, Guildford, Shalford, Chilworth, Gomshall, Dorking West, Dorking Deepdene, Betchworth, Reigate and Redhill

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The route is 53.1 miles long.
  • The route is partially-electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The route has been planned for 100 mph trains.
  • Services take eighty-two minutes.
  • It needs six trains to run the service.

Note.

  1. The route is proposed to be run by four-car Class 769 bi-mode trains.
  2. Would a three-car train be sufficient for this route?
  3. The Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are only 90 mph trains and would they be fast enough?

I do think that Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this route, but given the number of trains and possible capacity and speed issues, a four-car battery-electric train could be better suited to the route.

Reading And Basingstoke Line

This line runs between Reading and Basingstoke via Reading West, Mortimer and Bramley

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The route is 15.4 miles long.
  • There is 25 KVAC overhead electrification at Reading.
  • There is 750 VDC third-rail electrification at Basingstoke, but the platform used by the service is unelectrified.
  • The route has been planned for 100 mph trains.
  • Services take twenty-eight minutes.
  • It needs two trains to run the service.

Note.

  1. For a battery-electric train to work this route, it might need a charging system at Basingstoke.
  2. The Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are only 90 mph trains and would they be fast enough?

I do think that a pair of Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this service.

Oxford Canal Line

This route runs between Didcot Psrkway and Banbury via Appleford, Culham, Radley, Oxford, Tackley, Heyford and Kings Sutton.

  • It is effectively two routes with a combined frequency of two tph between Didcot Junction and Oxford and half that between Oxford and Banbury.
  • The full route is 33 miles long.
  • There is 25 KVAC overhead electrification at Didcot Parkway.
  • Services take forty-one minutes.
  • It probably needs four trains to run the service.

I do think that a small fleet of Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this service.

Some General Thoughts

These are a few general points.

Stabling And Hydrogen Fuelling

Reading Train Care Facility is a large depot to the west of Reading.

  • It is ideally placed for all the lines, that I’ve mentioned.
  • It is connected to all the lines by electrified lines.

I am sure that it would be possible to build a hydrogen fuelling facility at the depot.

Two-Car Battery-Electric Trains

It looks like the Greenford and Marlow Branches might need to be served by two-car battery-electric trains.

Four-Car Trains

Some of the services might be run by four-car trains, as these would be more suitable for the number of passengers.

Total Number Of Trains

My rough estimates of numbers of trains are as follows.

  • Greenford Branch – 1 train
  • Windsor Branch – 1 train
  • Marlow Line – 1 train
  • Regatta Line – 1 train
  • North Downs Line – 6 trains
  • Reading And Basingstoke Line – 2 trains
  • Oxford Canal Line – 4 trains

This would be a total of sixteen trains or ten, if the Class 769 trains were used on the North Downs Line.

Additional Routes

There may be other routes, where the trains could be used, that are handy for Reading Train Care Facility.

Hydrogen or battery power may give advantages in opening new routes.

Would Hydrogen Trains Attract Passengers And Tourists?

I think they could, as if nothing there is a curiosity value.

Conclusion

This collection of routes surround Reading Train Care Facility and would be a nice package to run with hydrogen or battery-electric trains.

 

 

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Alstom.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Alstom, Britain’s leading train manufacturer and maintenance provider, and Eversholt Rail, leading British train owner and financier, have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at delivering the UK’s first ever brand-new hydrogen train fleet.

The two companies have agreed to work together, sharing technical and commercial information necessary for Alstom to design, build, commission and support a fleet of ten three-car hydrogen multiple units (HMUs). These will be built by Alstom in Britain. The new HMU fleet will be based on the latest evolution of the Alstom Aventra platform and the intention is that final contracts for the fleet will be signed in early 2022.

This is an Alstom visualisation of the train.

The first thing I notice is that the train doesn’t have the same aerodynamic nose as this current Class 710 train, which is one of the London Overground’s Aventras.

 

Note how the lights, coupler position and the front-end structure are all different.

These are my further thoughts on the design.

The Aventra’s Traction System

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over ten years ago, so I suspect Bombardier (or now Alstom) have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 Aventra trains use super-capacitors or lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

  • I was told by a Bombardier driver-trainer that the Class 345 trains have an emergency power supply. When I said “Batteries?”, He gave a knowing smile.
  • From the feel of riding on Class 710 trains, as a Control Engineer, I suspect there is a battery or supercapacitor in the drive system to give a smoother ride.

I also feel that the Aventra has been designed, so that it can accept power from a large variety of sources, which charge the battery, that ultimately drives the train.

The Formation Of A Three-Car Aventra

The only three-car Aventra is the Class 730/0 train.

I have not seen one of one of these trains in the metal and the formation can’t be found on the Internet. But Wikipedia does show the pantograph on the middle car.

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I said this.

Here is the formation of the train.

DMS+PMS(W)+MS1+DMS

The plates on the individual cars are as follows.

DMS – Driving Motored Standard

    • Weight – 43.5 tonnes
    • Length – 21.45 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 43

The two DMS cars would appear to be identical.

PMS (W) -Pantograph Motored Standard

    • Weight – 38.5 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 51

The (W) signifies a wheelchair space.

MS1 – Motored Standard

    • Weight – 32.3 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 52

It is similar in size to the PMS car, but has an extra seat.

So could the formation of a three-car Aventra be?

DMS+PMS(W)+DMS

I have just removed the MS1 car.

This would mean that a three-car Aventra has the following dimensions and capacity.

  • Weight – 125.5 tonnes
  • Length – 62.89 metres
  • Seats – 137

There will probably be a difference between these figures and those of a three-car Class 730 train, as those trains have end-gangways.

Could All The Hydrogen Gubbins Fit Underneath The Train?

These pictures show the space underneath a Class 710 train.

If you also look at Alstom’s visualisation of their Hydrogen Aventra on this post, there would appear to be lots of space under the train.

It should also be noted  that Birmingham University’s engineers have managed to put all of the hydrogen gubbins underneath the floor of Porterbrook’s Class 799 train.

Looking at my pictures, you can see the following.

  • The two DMS (Driving Motored Standard) cars have large boxes underneath
  • The MS1(Motored Standard) car is fairly clear underneath. But this will probably not be there in a three-car train.
  • The PMS (Pantograph Motored Standard) car has some space underneath.

If more space needs to be created, I suspect that the cars can be lengthened, between the bogies. The Class 710 trains have twenty metre intermediate cars, whereas some versions have twenty-four metre cars.

I believe that Aventras have been designed, so that various power sources could be installed under the floor.

When the Aventra was designed, over ten years ago, these could have included.

  • A diesel generator and all the fuel tanks and cooling systems.
  • A battery or other energy storage system.

Since then two other suitable power sources have been developed.

  • Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and others have developed small and powerful gas-turbine generators.
  • Ballard Power Systems and others have developed hydrogen fuel cell generators.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Have Longer Cars?

I have been looking at pictures of Aventras on Wikipedia and in my own archive.

It appears that only Aventras with twenty-four metre carriages have five windows between the pair of double-doors in the intermediate carriages.

This picture shows the PMS car from a Class 710 train.

The PMS car is to the right and has four windows between the doors.

This is the side view of one of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.

It has twenty-four metre intermediate cars and five windows.

It looks to me that the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will have twenty-four metre cars.

This will give an extra four x 2.78 metres space under the train compared to a Class 710 train.

It would also appear that the Aventras with twenty-four metre cars also have an extra window in the driving cars, between the doors.

Does the four metre stretch make it possible to position tubular hydrogen tanks across the train to store a practical amount of hydrogen?

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Based On A Three-Car Class 730/0 Train?

I have just found this video of a three-car Class 730/0 under test.

And guess what! It has five windows between the doors.

But then it is a train with twenty-four metre cars.

It looks to me, that Alstom have looked at the current Aventra range and decided that the three-car Class 730/0 could be the one to convert into a useful train powered by hydrogen.

So if it is a Class 730/0 train with hydrogen gubbins under the floor, what other characteristics would carry over.

  • I suspect Aventras are agnostic about power and so long as they get the right quantity of volts, amps and watts, the train will roll along happily.
  • But it means that the train can probably use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, 750 VDC third-rail electrification, hydrogen or battery power.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if if could use 15 KVAC and 3KVDC overhead electrification for operation in other countries, with perhaps a change of power electronics or transformer.
  • The interior layout of the trains can probably be the same as that of the Class 730/0 trains.
  • The Class 730/0 trains have an operating speed of 90 mph and this could be good enough for hydrogen.

This could be a very capable train, that could find a lot of applications.

Could The Proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Considered To Be A Class 730/0 Train With A Hydrogen Extender?

It appears that the only difference between the two trains is that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra has a hydrogen propulsion system, that can be used when the electrification runs out.

The hydrogen fuel cell will convert hydrogen into electricity, which will either be used immediately or stored in a battery on the train.

The Class 730/0 trains have already been ordered to run services on Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Class 600 Breeze Train?

The Class 600 train, which is based on the British Rail-era Class 321 train seems to have gone cold.

If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped after the fourth round, if not before.

This Alstom visualisation shows the Class 600 train, which is also known as the Breeze.

I have a feeling that Alstom have done their marketing and everybody has said that the Class 600 train wouldn’t stand up to a modern train.

  • When you consider that each end of the train is a hydrogen tank, I wonder if possible passenger and driver reaction has not been overwhelmingly positive.
  • The project was announced in January 2021 and in the intervening time, hydrogen technology has improved at a fast pace.
  • There could even be a battery-electric version of the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  • The modern train could possibly be lengthened to a four or five car train.

It does strike me, that if Alstom are going to succeed with hydrogen trains, that to carry on with the Class 600 train without an order into the future is not a good idea.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Alstom Coradia iLint?

The Alstom Coradia iLint is the world’s first hydrogen train.

It is successfully in service in Germany.

These are some characteristics of the Coradia iLint from the Internet.

  • Seats – 180
  • Length – 54.27 metres
  • Width – 2.75 metres
  • Height – 4.31 metres
  • Operating Speed – 87 mph
  • Range – 370-500 miles
  • Electrification Use – No

The same figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra are as follows.

  • Seats – 164
  • Length – 72 metres
  • Width – 2.78 metres
  • Height – 3.76 metres
  • Operating Speed – 90 mph
  • Range – Unknown
  • Electrification Use – Unknown, but I would expect it is possible.

Note.

  1. I have taken figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra from the Class 730/0 train and other Aventras.
  2. The number of seats is my best estimate from using the seat density of a Class 710 train in a 24 metre long car.
  3. The width and height seem to be standard for most Aventras.
  4. Alstom have said nothing about the range on hydrogen.
  5. I am surprised that the Aventra is the wider train.

But what surprises me most, is how similar the two specifications are. Had the designer of the original Lint hoped to sell some in the UK?

What Is The Range Of The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra?

When they launched the Breeze, Alstom were talking about a range of a thousand kilometres or just over 620 miles.

I have talked to someone, who manages a large bus fleet and they feel with a hydrogen bus, you need a long range, as you might have to position the bus before it does a full day’s work.

Would similar positioning mean a hydrogen train needs a long range?

I suspect it would in some applications, but if the train could use electrification, as I suspect the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can, this must help with positioning and reduce the range needed and the amount of hydrogen used.

Would Alstom aim to make the range similar to the Coradia iLint? It’s probably a fair assumption.

Could the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Extended To Four Or Five Cars?

I don’t see why not, as Aventras are designed to be lengthened or shortened, by just adding or removing cars, just like their predecessors the Electrostars were.

I can certainly see routes, where a longer Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be needed and if Alstom have also decided that such a train could be needed, they will surely have investigated how to lengthen the train.

Applications In The UK

These are links to a few thoughts on applications of the trains in the UK.

There are probably a lot more and I will add to this list.

Applications Elsewhere

If the Coradia iLint has problems, they are these.

  • It can’t use overhead electrification, where it exists
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission, as it is a converted diesel multiple unit design.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can probably be modified to use electrification of any flavour and I can’t see why the train would be more noisy that say a Class 710 train.

I suspect Alstom will be putting the train forward for partially-electrified networks in countries other than the UK.

Conclusion

This modern hydrogen train from Alstom is what is needed.

It might also gain an initial order for Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, as it is a hydrogen version of the line’s Class 730/0 trains.

But having a hydrogen and an electric version, that are identical except for the hydrogen extender, could mean that the trains would be ideal for a partially-electrified network.

There could even be a compatible battery-electric version.

All trains would be identical to the passenger and probably the driver too. This would mean that mixed fleets could be run by an operator, with hydrogen or battery versions used on lines without electrification as appropriate.

 

 

 

 

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Battery Rather Than Hydrogen Trains Suggested In Sachsen Study

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

This is the first paragraph.

The use of battery rather than hydrogen traction is recommended in a study into options for replacing diesel multiple-units on regional routes around Dresden where electrification is unlikely in the short to medium term.

They give the reason that battery power is a better short term option, where electrification is envisaged in the long-term.

 

I also think, that in the case of the German hydrogen trains, which are hydrogen-power only, this means that the trains will have to be replaced, as the electrification is installed. Whereas, with battery-electric trains, they just get more efficient as the wires go up and don’t need to be replaced. Although, their batteries might be removed to improve acceleration.

Dresden, Leipzig and that area of Germany also has a lot of electrification already, so charging will not be a problem.

But battery power would also get around the problem at Zwickau, where diesel multiple units run through the streets as trams to a station in the town centre.

 

The picture shows a diesel multiple unit playing trams in Zwickau Zentrum station.

  • Note the orange lights that flash on the train.
  • Trams call at the other side of the platform.
  • I wonder, if the Germans felt that battery-electric trains will be safer in Zwickau than hydrogen-powered trains.

It puzzles me, why this simple solution is not used more often to extend railways into town and city centres.

With battery-electric trains, there would be no need for any electrification.

Conclusion

The Germans seem to be going battery-electric train mad!

Perhaps, we should follow their example?

October 20, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

On-Train Hydrogen Storage Development Agreement

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

This is the first paragraph.

Alstom and automotive technology company Plastic Omnium have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on ‘high-end’ hydrogen storage systems for on-train applications, with a dedicated team established to manage the technical and commercial development of ‘innovative and competitive’ equipment.

This sounds like hydrogen tanks will be efficiently designed and produced for trains and locomotives.

The designs for these important areas will probably lead to better hydrogen tanks for any application that needs one.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | Design, Hydrogen | , , , | 2 Comments