The Anonymous Widower

‘Castle’ HSTs To Be Withdrawn By Great Western Railway

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

This quote from a  GWR spokesman, sums up the action that will be taken.

The Castles were always designed to be a temporary measure on the Cardiff to Penzance route. We expect to replace the Castle Class trains on a phased basis over the next couple of years, bringing customers the benefit of more modern trains that will reduce both cost and carbon emissions across the route.

These are my thoughts.

Could The Engines In The Power Cars Be Replaced With Modern Carbon-Neutral Engines?

This would be an alternative way to solve the decarbonisation problem.

It would also mean that other applications of the Class 43 power cars, like ScotRail’s Inter7City trains, Cross Country’s HSTs and Network Rail’s New Measurement Train would have a decarbonisation route,

In Rolls-Royce Releases mtu Rail Engines For Sustainable Fuels, Rolls-Royce mtu outline their route to decarbonise rail engines using sustainable fuels.

This was the first paragraph of my conclusion in the linked article.

Rolls-Royce and Cummins seem to be doing a thoroughly professional job in decarbonising the diesel engines they have made in recent years.

The Class 43 power cars have Rolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engines, which will soon be available to run on sustainable fuel.

I think as a possible fall-back, one Class 43 power car should be converted to carbon neutral.

Could The Engines In The Power Cars Be Replaced With Modern Hydrogen Engines?

I looked at this in Will We See Class 43 Power Cars Converted To Hydrogen?.

I came to the conclusion, that this might be possible and said this.

It would be the ultimate Roller.

But then Rolls-Royce know about winning battles with large internal combustion engines.

The Option Of New Trains

This quote from a  GWR spokesman was fairly definite about new trains, when they said.

The Castles were always designed to be a temporary measure on the Cardiff to Penzance route. We expect to replace the Castle Class trains on a phased basis over the next couple of years, bringing customers the benefit of more modern trains that will reduce both cost and carbon emissions across the route.

What trains could replace the Castles?

  • The Cardiff and Penzance route is just short of 250 miles or roughly 400 kilometres.
  • Only about 30 miles at the Cardiff end is electrified.
  • Trains would need to be able to handle 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 125 mph trains will be needed at the Cardiff end.
  • Four or five passenger cars will be needed.
  • Currently, there are twelve Castles, so I will assume twelve new trains.

As these trains will be lasting up to forty years, they must be zero-carbon, which must mean battery-electric or hydrogen.

Charging Battery-Electric Trains

Consider

  • Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St. Davis and Plymouth are large stations with several platforms. I suspect that a number of Furrer + Frey’s charging stations can be installed along the route.
  • The timetable would be adjusted to allow trains to be charged as they stopped to set down and pick up passengers.
  • Trains would dwell in the station and then use their 125 mph performance to regain the time.
  • I’ve also found a Penzance to Cardiff service, that stopped at Plymouth for fourteen minutes, which is more than enough to charge the batteries.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries would further eke out the range.
  • There might also be some extra electrification around Bristol or Exeter.
  • Some form of charging would be needed at Penzance.

Note.

  1. Putting up electrification may mean that it will delay the new trains for a few years.
  2. Charging stations along the route could probably be installed to a tight timetable.

I believe that with some top-class work, by battery and charger manufacturers, that a battery-electric train could be developed that could run between Cardiff and Penzance.

Thoughts On Hydrogen

Consider.

  • The Alstom Coradia iLint train has a range of about 1,000 km. on hydrogen.
  • Companies like Airbus, Boeing and a host of rocket makers will improve the storage and safety of hydrogen.
  • A range of a 1,000 km. would allow refuelling at one end of the route.
  • Trains could be multiple units or a hydrogen-electric locomotive pulling a rake of coaches with a driving van trailer.

I feel that hydrogen would be very feasible as a power source.

Alstom Could Offer A Hydrogen Aventra

Consider.

  • Alstom are developing a hydrogen-powered Aventra.
  • Bombardier were offering a 125 mph Aventra.
  • A typical Aventra like a Class 720 train seats a hundred passengers a car.

A hydrogen Aventra would be feasible.

Hitachi Could Offer A Battery-Electric Or Hybrid AT-300

In 2021, in Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%, I wrote about the announcement of the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Hybrid Train, which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Batteries replacing an engine to cut fuel usage and reduce carbon emissions.
  2. First time a modern UK intercity train, in passenger service, will use alternative fuel.
  3. These Hitachi trains use mtu engines, so I suspect they will be switched to sustainable fuel like HVO.
  4. The trains are 125 mph and 140 mph with the latest digital signalling.
  5. Great Western Railway already have 58 five-car Class 800/802 trains and 35 nine-car 800/802 trains.
  6. They would not need any changing stations or other infrastructure changes.
  7. Staff retraining would be minimal.

Testing of the prototype of these trains must be getting very close or even underway.

Stadler Could Offer A Battery-Electric Flirt Akku

Consider

  • Stadler have run a Flirt Akku on batteries for 243 km.
  • Flirt Akkus will go into service soon.
  • Flirts have been designed for 125 mph running.

With charging at Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance, I believe a Flirt Akku could handle the route.

Are Hitachi Home And Hosed?

I have a feeling that the announcement has been made about retiring the Castles as the prototype Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Hybrid Train is under test and is performing well.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see an order for twelve more Class 802 trains soon.

 

 

November 27, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rolls-Royce Releases mtu Rail Engines For Sustainable Fuels

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • mtu Series 1300, 1500 and 1800 engines already released; Series 1600 and 4000 to follow shortly
  • Up to 90% CO2 savings by operating existing engines with Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO/renewable diesel)
  • Locally emission-free operation possible in combination with mtu Hybrid PowerPack
  • Field tests with DB Cargo and RDC Autozug Sylt

Note.

  1. Hitachi Class 800, 802, 805 and Class 810 trains appear to use Series 1600 engines.
  2. CAF Class 195, 196 and Class 197 trains appear to use Series 1800 engines.
  3. Class 43 power cars, as used in InterCity 125 trains appear to use Series 4000 engines.

It would appear that many of the UK’s new diesel trains and the remaining Class 43 power-cars can be converted to run on HVO.

This paragraph from the press release gives more details.

Rolls-Royce is taking a significant step towards even more climate-friendly rail transport with the release of mtu rail engines for use with sustainable fuels. With synthetic diesel fuels of the EN15940 standard, CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 100 percent compared to fossil diesel. Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO or renewable diesel), which is already commercially available today, reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent. If the fuels are produced with the help of renewable energy and green hydrogen – through what is termed a Power-to-X process – existing rail vehicles can be operated in a completely CO2-neutral manner. The mtu Series 1800 engines which are used in mtu PowerPacks, as well as Series 1300 and 1500 for locomotives and multi-purpose vehicles, are already approved for use with synthetic fuels such as HVO. Series 1600 and versions of Series 4000 engines will follow in the near future. The release of engines for climate-friendly fuels requires a series of tests and trials and Rolls-Royce has found strong partners for this activity. DB Cargo and RDC Autozug Sylt have already tested or are currently testing mtu Series 4000 engines with HVO in their locomotives.

Rolls-Royce mtu seem to have covered all issues.

This is a very significant statement in the paragraph.

If the fuels are produced with the help of renewable energy and green hydrogen – through what is termed a Power-to-X process – existing rail vehicles can be operated in a completely CO2-neutral manner.

This must be the most affordable way to make your diesel trains zero carbon.

Conclusion

Rolls-Royce and Cummins seem to be doing a thoroughly professional job in decarbonising the diesel engines they have made in recent years.

It now needs someone to take small diesel engines down the conversion route, just as Rolls-Royce mtu and Cummins are cleaning up their large engines.

September 24, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rolls-Royce And AVK Provide Over 3.5 Gigawatts Of Emergency Power Capacity In The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

The press release starts with these two bullet points.

  • UK’s largest technology companies rely on emergency power solutions from AVK and Rolls-Royce
  • Focus on Net Zero solutions with sustainable fuels and fuel cells

And then this summary of the business in the UK.

Rolls-Royce has delivered 200 mtu emergency generators to AVK, UK’s leading provider of critical power solutions, in just three years. AVK has already installed and commissioned the majority across Europe, and in total has already provided more than 3.5 gigawatts of power to data centers, the financial, telecommunications and healthcare industries in the UK and Ireland.

AVK is now the largest supplier of emergency power solutions to data centers and the financial sector in the UK, and since signing the exclusive agreement with the Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems, has been using only mtu brand emergency gensets.

The next two paragraphs describe the business in more detail.

These are some points from these paragraphs.

  • Data is now the ‘fourth utility’ required by all.
  • The European colocation data center market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.1 percent from 2021 to 2028.
  • The most important European markets for data centers are Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, and Paris, where demand is highest.
  • AVK provides, installs and maintains systems over their entire service life.
  • Emergency power systems based on  mtu diesel systems ranging from 825 to 4,000 KVA are tailored to customer needs.
  • AVK has been using mtu engines for emergency power systems for over 20 years.

Rolls-Royce And AVK seem to have developed a nice little earner.

Net Zero Emergency Power Solutions

The last section talks about net-zero solutions for generators and emergency power.

This is set about sustainable fuels.

Sustainability already plays a major role for data center operators. As a result, interest in alternative fuels has grown and AVK is increasingly providing support and guidance on switching from using diesel to HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil). mtu Powergen engines from Rolls-Royce can be used unchanged for sustainable EN15940 fuels, such as HVO; no engine hardware or software modifications are required with the same performance. Using HVO can significantly reduce CO2, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions.

And this is said about the use of hydrogen.

Rolls-Royce is also currently developing its mtu gas engine portfolio for power generation so that the engines can run on hydrogen fuel in future, enabling a Net Zero energy supply. The company is also launching complete mtu hydrogen fuel cell solutions, that emit nothing but water vapor from 2025. This will enable CO2-free generation of emergency power for data centers and many other critical applications.

I certainly think, that they are going in the right direction.

  • Data center operators are said to want sustainability.
  • Other users of emergency power will probably want the same.
  • A full range of solutions is offered.

Hopefully, it will bring more sales, as the market size increases.

August 23, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thales Supports Rollout Of UK Digital Railway Programme

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

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • Thales wins the fitment and supply of European Train Control System (ETCS) onboard units for Class 43 high-speed train retrofit.
  • Implementation will benefit passengers and freight operators by delivering additional capacity, improving performance, enhancing safety and reducing the costs of operating the national railway.

Which is followed by this explanation.

As a key player in delivering this digital transformation, Thales has today been awarded the contract for the Class 43 First in Class (FiC) design and fitment project that will use Network Rail’s new measurement train power cars in the Infrastructure Measurement fleet. The FiC project will culminate in a Type approval from the Office of Road and Rail to enable subsequent Class 43 ETCS fleet fitments.

The new Thales onboard system will be integrated as part of the Digital Railway train control system, and will enable rolling stock to operate on ETCS-equipped infrastructure. The onboard equipment is an evolution of Thales’s level 1 ETCS system that has been successfully deployed worldwide.

This could be a smart move.

  • Type Approval will mean that the Class 43 power cars of ScotRail’s Inter7Cities, Great Western Railway’s Castles and those of other operators can be retrofitted.
  • Will the New Measurement Train also be used to test the digital signalling, as it covers all the tracks in Great Britain in a four-weekly cycle?
  • Fitting of these iconic 1970’s designed power cars with the latest modern signalling could be a design exercise, that helps in the fitting of ETCS to other older and unusual locomotives.

I still think, that because of the iconic nature of the InterCity125, that we may see a conversion of Class 43 power cars to more sustainable operation.

  • All power cars now have modern MTU diesel engines, which probably could be fuelled by hydrogen.
  • The simplest way would be to run them on HVO, as I wrote about in Powered By HVO.
  • Some operations like the short format trains in Scotland and South-West England might be more suitable for battery-electric operation.
  • Given that there are 167 in operation or in store, it would be a good-sized order for the company converting the power cars.

I also believe that zero-carbon InterCity 125s could be an unusual tourist attraction.

Conclusion

The fitting of digital signalling to Class 43 power cars is a good move, but is it the start of a wider plan to bring these iconic trains up to modern standards.

 

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

The UK’s first 100mph battery-diesel hybrid train is entering passenger service to cut carbon emissions and boost air quality.

It was developed by adding a powerful battery to a 20-year-old diesel train to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 25%, according to owner Porterbrook.

The firm added that the two-carriage train, named HybridFLEX, also provides a 75% decrease in noise and a 70% decrease in nitrogen oxide.

The battery-diesel hybrid transmission is from MTU, who are a Rolls-Royce company and they go further with this press release which is entitled World Premiere: MTU Hybrid PowerPack From Rolls-Royce Enters Passenger Service.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce, Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways are making rail history together with a climate-friendly world premiere: A hybrid diesel-battery-electric train that reduces CO2 emissions by up to 25% entered passenger service in the UK today for the first time. The so-called HybridFLEX train is powered by two mtu Hybrid PowerPacks and is operated by Chiltern Railways on the route between London Marylebone and Aylesbury. Together with the leasing company Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways, Rolls-Royce has converted a Class 168 DMU into the HybridFLEX train. The partners are proving that existing rail vehicles can be used in a climate-friendly way without the need to install complex and expensive new infrastructure. It is the world’s first regular passenger operation with mtu Hybrid PowerPacks, of which 13 have already been ordered.

This is significant for the railways of the UK.

The train that has been converted is a Class 168 train, which itself had been converted from a Class 170 train, when it transferred to Chiltern Railways in 2016.

I think this means that all Bombardier Turbostars in Classes 168, 170, 171 and 172 can probably be fitted with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

That is the following numbers of trains and cars.

  • Class 168 – 28 trains – 86 cars
  • Class 170 – 139 trains – 372 cars
  • Class 171 – 20 trains – 56 cars
  • Class 172 – 39 trains – 93 cars

Note.

  1. This totals to 226 trains and 607 cars.
  2. As each car has an engine, this will be an order of 607 PowerPacks, if all trains were to be converted.

This could certainly help to meet the Government’s aim of getting rid of all diesel only trains by 2040.

Can The CAF Civities Be Converted?

There are three Classes of CAF Civity diesel multiple units; 195, 196 and 197, all of which have Rolls-Royce MTU engines.

Could these be converted to hybrid operation by the swapping of the current diesel engines for MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

I would suspect they could, as the CAF Civity trains might have been designed after MTU disclosed plans of the MTU Hybrid PowerPack to train builders prior to its announcement in September 2018.

Conclusion

MTU Hybrid PowerPacks could go a long way to eliminating diesel-only trains on UK railways. They could even run the diesels on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to lower their carbon-footprint further.

 

February 10, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

BP Snaps Up 30 Per Cent Stake In Green Biofuels Ltd

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

So why would BP take a stake in Green Biofuels?

This paragraph in the Wikipedia entry for BP, outlines the company’s future philosophy.

From 1988 to 2015, BP was responsible for 1.53% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. BP has set a goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. BP plans to increase its investments in renewables 10 times and reduce oil production by 40% from current levels by 2030.

BP is doing things like developing wind and solar farms to achieve these aims.

BP also seems to be investing in both blue and green hydrogen.

But possibly, the two hardest products to decarbonise are diesel for heavy transport and aviation fuel.

Looking at Green Biofuels web site, the Wikipedia entry for Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) and other sources, Green Biofuels product; GD+ seems to make a good fist of reducing carbon emissions and pollution, if it replaces diesel.

DB Cargo UK and HVO

DB Cargo UK have a fleet of nearly two hundred large diesel locomotives in the UK.

DB Cargo UK have been experimenting with HVO, as I wrote about in Powered By HVO.

The company has issued a press release on these trials of HVO, from which this is an extract.

DB Cargo UK’s Head of Asset Management and Maintenance Steve Wilkinson said the company was collaborating with one of the UK’s leading suppliers of HVO fuel which already worked with high-profile brands like Caterpillar, John Deere, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.

“We are very pleased with the initial performance of the HVO fuel which we could use instead of or alongside traditional red diesel. The fact it is compatible with our existing diesel means investment in new storage and fuelling facilities would also be kept to a minimum,” he added.

“On top of that, it performs well at low temperatures, has a longer lifespan and is biodegradable,” he added.

DB Cargo UK currently operates 228 diesel and electric locomotives that transport in the region of 37 million tonnes of freight each year across the UK and into Europe.

It uses approximately 45 million litres of red diesel a year.

Was one of the UK’s leading suppliers of HVO fuel, a company called Green Biofuels?

Note that DB Cargo UK’s spokesman makes these points about the fuel.

  • They are very pleased with initial performance.
  • It is a straight swap for red diesel and it appears locomotives can run on either. He doesn’t say it but can it run on one fuel contaminated with the other? I suspect it’s a possibility.
  • Current storage can be used for HVO.
  • I get the impression that swapping from red diesel to HVO wouldn’t be the most challenging of operations.
  • It performs well at low temperatures. One train-driver told me, that one of the worse parts of the job, is picking up a train from a depot high in the Pennines on a cold day in the winter. That must apply to locomotives.
  • It has a longer lifespan.
  • It is biodegradable. I haven’t walked through an engine shed, since I used to bunk them as a child to get engine numbers, but they were filthy places, with oil and diesel all over the floor.

That sounds to me, like DB Cargo UK have decided that HVO is an excellent fuel and for them to swap to HVO, would be no more difficult than to swap between red diesel from BP to red diesel from Shell.

This is an extract from the Business Green article.

Founded in 2013, Green Biofuels is the UK’s largest provider of HVO, having delivered over 55 million litres of HVO products to the UK market over the past two years.

If DB Cargo UK wanted to swap from red diesel to HVO, they would need nearly all of Green Biofuels current production.

So have Green Biofuels run to BP and said can you help us out?

Red Diesel Replacement

This document on the Government web site is entitled Reform Of Red Diesel And Other Rebated Fuels Entitlement.

There is a section, which is entitled Policy Objective, where this is said.

In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws guaranteeing an end to its contribution to global warming by 2050. The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels. The government also launched in 2019 an ambitious new strategy to clean up the air and save lives, given air pollution is one of the biggest continuing threats to public health in the UK.

Red diesel is diesel used mainly for off-road purposes, such as to power bulldozers and cranes used in the construction industry, or to power drills for oil extraction. It accounts for around 15% of all the diesel used in the UK and is responsible for the production of nearly 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Red diesel used in the construction and infrastructure building sectors was also estimated to have caused 7% of nitrogen oxide emissions and 8% of PM10 emissions (a type of particulate matter) in London in 2018. 

At Budget 2020, the government therefore announced that it would remove the entitlement to use red diesel and rebated biodiesel from most sectors from April 2022 to help meet its climate change and air quality targets. The tax changes will ensure that most users of red diesel use fuel taxed at the standard rate for diesel from April 2022, like motorists, which more fairly reflects the harmful impact of the emissions they produce. Removing most red diesel entitlements will also help to ensure that the tax system incentivises users of polluting fuels like diesel to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machinery, invest in cleaner alternatives, or just use less fuel.

It doesn’t say, but I have found references to the fact that HVO pays the same tax rate as diesel, despite the evidence, that it appears to be more environmentally friendly.

If I was the Chancellor, I would certainly adjust the tax system, so that red diesel users who changed to HVO and other fuels, paid tax in proportion to the emissions and pollution they caused.

So have BP decided that Green Biofuels is the best interim solution to reduce emissions from diesel fuel and taking a stake, is the best way to get the required access to the product?

Could BP be thinking about replacing red diesel with a better green diesel?

  • Red diesel and GD+ could be acceptable to all diesel vehicles and equipment. So farmers for rxample, could run tractors and combines on the same fuel as their truck or Range Rover.
  • Businesses, like farmers, who often have tanks for both red diesel and normal diesel, would only need one tank.
  • Businesses with a green profile, would surely like it for their vehicles.
  • Organic farmers would like it for their tractors.
  • The availability of a green diesel would enable red diesel users to change to hydrogen or battery operation, at the optimal time.

I can see Prince Charles handing out green stars all round.

February 4, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 8 Comments

What Will Happen To Northern’s Class 195 Trains?

Northern’s Class 195 trains could be a problem in the future.

  • They are diesel multiple units.
  • There are twenty-five two-car trains and thirty-three three-car trains.
  • All cars have a Rolls-Royce MTU 6H1800R85L diesel engine, that drives the train through a ZF EcoLife 6-speed transmission.
  • They are 100 mph trains, which is adequate for the routes they serve.
  • According to Wikipedia, the trains are designed for a lifespan of thirty-five years, which takes the trains past the date, when it is intended that all trains should be zero-carbon.

It looks to me, that a plan will be needed to decarbonise these trains, as they are probably too new and costly to scrap.

These are possibilities to upgrade them to zero-carbon.

Rebuild as Class 331 Electric Trains

The design of the Class 195 trains is based on the same platform as that of the Class 331 trains.

I would expect that it could be possible to rebuild the Class 195 trains as Class 331 trains.

But it would be an expensive and disruptive process and would require a lot of electrification.

Some battery-electric versions could be created to cut the need for electrification.

Run The Trains On Net-Zero Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Or Other Fuels

In Powered By HVO, I wrote about research going on into the use of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil or HVO.

There is also ongoing research into other net-zero fuels that can be used in a diesel engine.

The process used by Velocys to create sustainable aviation fuel can also be used to produce diesel from various sources like disposable nappies, household waste and scrap wood.

Run The Trains On A Dual Fuel Basis With Hydrogen

In Grand Central DMU To Be Used For Dual-Fuel Trial, I talk about how Grand Central in collaboration with a company called G-volution are running experiments with dual-fuelling a Class 180 train. G-volution state that they could dual fuel with hydrogen using their technology.

The Class 180 trains have Cummins engines, but I suspect G-volution’s technology or something similar could be applied to the Rolls-Royce MTU engines in the Class 195 trains.

This could be a very promising route.

Convert The Diesel Engines To Run On Hydrogen

Cummins and JCB have developed internal combustion engines, that can run on hydrogen. I would be very surprised if Rolls-Royce MTU are not developing this technology.

Conclusion

There are options to convert the Class 195 trains into low or zero-carbon trains.

.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Freightliner Continue Trials On New Low Carbon Fuel

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

This is the first paragraph.

As part of their commitment to carbon reduction Freightliner will conduct operational trials of a new low carbon fuel supplied by Green Biofuels Ltd (GBF).

And this paragraph described the fuel.

GBF are the UK’s leading provider of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) and the new fuel consists of 55% Shell GTL (gas to liquids) Fuel and 45% Gd+ HVO.

It does appear that hydrotreated vegetable oil or HVO, could be becoming an intermediate step on the route to decarbonisation, as I’ve posted about the fuel before in Powered By HVO.

The other promising route to decarbonisation must surely be that of producing fuel from waste, as pioneered by Velocys and others.

But they are only intermediate steps before hydrogen becomes the preferred zero-carbon fuel for rail freight services.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Railfreight Goes Back To Diesel As Electricity Costs Soar

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

This is the first paragraph.

Some rail freight operators have abandoned electric traction, at least for now, because the price of electricity has been rising sharply. The electricity tariffs include a 40 per cent renewable energy tax, and following the latest rises diesel traction is now cheaper. The drivers’ union ASLEF is calling for the government to intervene, but Freightliner has already taken action.

This quote from the article is from ASLEF General Secretary; Mick Whelan.

Moving freight by rail rather than road is, inherently, a carbon-efficient mode of transport and an environmentally-friendly way of doing business. Electric-hauled freight services reduce emissions by 99 per cent; even moving goods by diesel traction reduces emissions by 76 per cent.

It looks to me, that a reputable and trusted environmental economist could come up with a compromise price and possibly a solution to improve the situation.

Possible solutions could include.

  • Use of Biodiesel or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil
  • More energy storage.

Surely, though, the long term solution is hydrogen-powered locomotives. or dual-fuel locomotives, as I wrote about in Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

 

October 20, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Freight On The East West Main Line

This page on the East West Main Line Partnership web site, describes their ambitions towards freight.

This is said.

The freight and logistics sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Greater use of rail for freight and logistics provides additional resilience for the business community, while also acting on the need to achieve net zero.

Whilst not part of East West Rail, removing the bottlenecks on the Felixstowe to Midlands
corridor remains an immediate strategic priority for three sub-national transport bodies (England’s Economic Heartland, Transport East and Midlands Connect wrote to the Chancellor in this regard in July 2020).

However, the design and operation of the East West Main Line should take into account and contribute to the delivery of the requirements of the national rail freight strategy. In due course Great British Railways will have a statutory duty to consider the needs of rail freight and to take those needs into account in planning the future of the rail network.

It is therefore important that the East West Main Line is designed and delivered with the capability of supporting rail freight services without the need for additional works. In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

I have my thoughts.

Cutting Carbon Emissions In The Freight Sector

The obvious way to do this, would be to electrify every line in the country and purchase a new fleet of electric freight locomotives.

But the problems with this are the expense, disruption and timescale, it would take to replace all the locomotives and put up electrification on every line that might possibly be used by freight trains and  locomotives.

A solution is needed now, not in ten years.

But there are already solutions being demonstrated or developed that will cut carbon emissions from locomotives.

  • Stadler bi-mode Class 88 locomotives are already hauling freight trains and cutting emissions by using electric power where possible. But there are only ten of these locomotives.
  • The thirty Stadler tri-mode Class 93 locomotives on order for Rail Operations Group could or well be a game-changer. It is already known, that they will be able to cruise at 100 mph using electrification, so they will be able to mix it with the expresses on the Great Eastern Main Line. I suspect that these locomotives have been designed to be able to haul freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe, by juggling the power sources.
  • In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, I describe how Clean Air Power are converting a Class 66 locomotive to run on both diesel and hydrogen. This could be a very fruitful route, especially, if the diesel-electric Class 66 locomotives could be fitted with a pantograph to use electrification where it exists.
  • I have been very impressed with the work Wabtec have done to convert a large American diesel-electric locomotive into a battery electric locomotive. I wrote about it in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh. In Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?, I concluded that it might be possible to convert Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives using Wabtec’s technology.
  • In Powered By HVO, I talk about DB Cargo’s use of HVO to cut carbon emissions.

I am also sure that there are probably other solutions to decarbonise freight locomotives under development.

I would hope that over the next few years the amount of diesel fuel used in the freight sector will decrease significantly.

Improved Freight Routes

Currently, freight trains to and from Felixstowe take one of these routes.

  1. Via London – Using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line or Gospel Oak and Barking Line, and the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Via Nuneaton – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Peterborough and Leicester before joining the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.
  3. Via Peterborough – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely and Peterborough before taking the East Coast Main Line or the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln.

The first two routes routes have capacity problems, whereas the third route has been improved by the use of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line.

Problems on the first two routes include

  • The Great Eastern Main Line is only dual-track.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London are at full capacity.
  • The route via Nuneaton does not have much electrification.

The East West Main Line will open up a new route directly across the country for some services, that currently go via the London or Nuneaton routes.

  • Felixstowe and Birmingham
  • Felixstowe and Glasgow
  • Felixstowe and Liverpool
  • Felixstowe and Manchester

These services could use the East West Main Line to connect with the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley, if the track were to be modified.

In addition services between Felixstowe and South Wales and the West Country could use the East West Main Line to Oxford and then join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot.

The East West Main Line could reduce the number of freight trains on these routes.

  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak and Barking Line
  • Peterborough and Leicester Line

The first three lines are certainly at capacity.

The Newmarket Problem

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common, I talked about previous plans of the East West Rail Consortium, who were the predecessor of the East West Main Line Partnership for the rail line between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge through Newmarket.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I have a feeling that if this plan were to be pursued, the Racing Industry in Newmarket wouldn’t be too keen on all the freight trains passing through the town.

Knowing the town and the racing industry and horses, as I do, I suspect that there will need to be serious noise mitigation measures through the town.

One would probably be a noise limit on the trains passing through, which might be very difficult for long freight trains, even if hauled by a much quieter battery-electric or hydrogen-powered locomotive.

Were the East West Main Line Partnership thinking of Newmarket, when they wrote the last sentence of the web page for freight.

In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

Newmarket is a unique town with a strong character and you shouldn’t take the town on lightly.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

Route Map Of The East West Main Line

 

 

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments