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‘Castle’ HSTs To Be Withdrawn By Great Western Railway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

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

Union Demands Withdrawal Of All HSTs After Carmont Report

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

This is the first paragraph.

The TSSA union says it has written to the regulator demanding the immediate withdrawal of all surving HSTs, after new revelations in the Carmont derailment. report.

Manuel Cortes of the TSSA feels that the corrosion problem found in the train that crashed at Carmont, may be present in other trains.

He finishes with this this statement.

Frankly, it’s time to ban the HSTs. They were great in their day, but that day is nearly 50 years ago now and they simply aren’t up to modern safety standards.

I must admit, that I tend to agree with him, on this last point.

Scotrail have the following fleet of Inter7City trains.

  • There are 52 Class 43 power cars and 120 Mark 3 coaches, which are arranged as nine four-car and seventeen five-car trains.
  • The trains have sliding passenger doors.
  • The trains meet all the regulations for Persons of Reduced Mobility.
  • The trains have wi-fi and power points.
  • They seem to run at up to 100 mph, as against the 125 mph for InterCity 125‘s in the past.
  • The power cars have generally been reengined with modern MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engines.

But they are now on average over forty years old.

In Battery And Hydrogen Trains For ScotRail ‘Could Make Scotland A Global Leader’ In Zero-Emission Transport, which is based on an article in the Scotsman with the same title, I said this.

Other points from the article.

  • Talgo appear to have passed the story to Scotland on Sunday.
  • Three routes are mentioned; Borders Railway, Fife Circle and Glasgow-East Kilbride.
  • The new trains could help phase out diesel trains by 2035, which is Scottish Government policy.
  • The Inter7City trains might be replaced by 2030.
  • Talgo hopes to win an order for its factory in Fife.

Talgo’s Managing Director is quoted as saying, they are starting testing of a hydrogen and electric train with a range of 311 miles.

Consider.

  • I wrote about this train in Talgo To Begin Fuel Cell Loco Trials.
  • Talgo’s hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for Scotland’s railways of which only forty percent are electrified.
  • A four or five-car high specification hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for the Inter7City routes, if it were built specifically for the routes.
  • The range would cover all of Scotland.
  • Hydrogen hubs are being planned all over Scotland.
  • Scotland have 26 Inter7City trainsets.

This could be a rather nice order to fund the factory and test all the trains close to the factory.

  • There could be as many as fifty trains.
  • They would probably have an operating speed of 100 mph on electricity.
  • Would the speed on hydrogen be 100 mph or perhaps a bit less?
  • They would be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it exists.
  • They could have a length of three, four or five cars.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see three or four car trains for the suburban trains and four or five car trains for the Inter7City replacements.

 

 

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Battery And Hydrogen Trains For ScotRail ‘Could Make Scotland A Global Leader’ In Zero-Emission Transport

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

This is the first paragraph.

New fleets of cutting-edge trains expected to include battery and hydrogen power are to be ordered for ScotRail which the rail industry believes will put Scotland at the forefront of zero-emission transport.

Other points from the article.

  • Talgo appear to have passed the story to Scotland on Sunday.
  • Three routes are mentioned; Borders Railway, Fife Circle and Glasgow-East Kilbride.
  • The new trains could help phase out diesel trains by 2035, which is Scottish Government policy.
  • The Inter7City trains might be replaced by 2030.
  • Talgo hopes to win an order for its factory in Fife.

Talgo’s Managing Director is quoted as saying, they are starting testing of a hydrogen and electric train with a range of 311 miles.

Consider.

  • I wrote about this train in Talgo To Begin Fuel Cell Loco Trials.
  • Talgo’s hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for Scotland’s railways of which only forty percent are electrified.
  • A four or five-car high specification hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for the Inter7City routes, if it were built specifically for the routes.
  • The range would cover all of Scotland.
  • Hydrogen hubs are being planned all over Scotland.
  • Scotland have 26 Inter7City trainsets.

This could be a rather nice order to fund the factory and test all the trains close to the factory.

Is there a better place to show off your new train to a prospective buyer than the Highlands of Scotland?

In A Class 319 Train, But Not As We Know It!, I told this tale.

I am reminded of a tale, that I heard from a former GEC manager.

He was involved in selling one of GEC’s Air Traffic Control radars to a Middle Eastern country.

The only working installation of the radar was at Prestwick in Scotland, so he arranged that the dignitaries and the sales team would be flown to Prestwick in GEC’s HS 125 business jet.

As they disembarked at Prestwick and walked to the terminal, the pilot called the GEC Manager over.

The pilot told him “The Scottish Highlands at this time of the year, are one of the most beautiful places in the world! Would you and your guests like a low-level tour on the way back? I can arrange it, if you say so!”

Despite knowing GEC’s draconian attitude to cost control he said yes.

The sale was clinched!

I’m sure that Talgo will exploit the scenery and the local produce.

Talgo’s Hydrogen Trains

This page on the Talgo web site, is entitled Talgo’s Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023.

This paragraph gives an overview of Talgo’s hydrogen power system.

This system is configured as a modular solution that can be installed on all types of trains, as well as in upgrades from diesel to hydrogen. However, it has been specifically designed for the Vittal platform for Commuter and Regional trains, which Talgo has presented in the bidding process for various tenders in Spain and other countries.

And these two paragraphs describe Talgo’s hydrogen trains in more detail.

This innovative system uses hydrogen batteries that provide the energy for the train’s electric motors. It is powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic or wind, which produce hydrogen that is stored and then used to power fuel cell-based propulsion systems, such as the one designed by Talgo. The system is complemented by batteries that increase the speed of the train when it starts, taking advantage of the braking system to recharge it.

Unlike the extended battery systems in the automotive industry, hydrogen (H2) technology is the logical answer to the needs of heavy transport and, in particular, of those railway lines that do not have catenary electrification systems, and which today depend on trains powered by diesel engines. The hydrogen system designed by Talgo enables conventional network lines to be “electrified” without the need for costly and lengthy adaptation operations, and without the use of fossil fuels.

What do they mean by hydrogen batteries? Looking at the German and the Spanish on the page, I think Talgo means hydrogen fuel cells.

The Rebuilding Of Ukraine

It should be noted that Talgo have sold trains in the past to Russia, which has a gauge of 1.520 metres, which lies between Iberian gauge of 1.668 metres and our standard gauge of 1.435 metres.

  • Talgo have also sold trains to Germany, who use standard gauge.
  • Talgo have built Strizh trains for Russia, that are both standard gauge and Russian gauge for running between Berlin and Moscow.
  • According to the BBC and The Times, Ukraine’s railways have been an important lifeline during the Russian invasion, but pictures show they are in need of modernisation and more electrification.
  • The Strizh trains or a development would surely be ideal for running between Kviv and Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.
  • There would also appear to be a need for a hydrogen and electric regional train to reconnect the country back together.
  • Other countries using Russian gauge include Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland.

So are Talgo positioning themselves to take part in the modernisation of Ukraine’s railways, once the war is over?

  • Development and testing is done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Manufacturing could be done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Delivery from Scotland could either be by ship or if they were dual-gauge trains, they could be hauled through the Channel Tunnel and then through Germany and Poland.

As Talgo has the technology, I can certainly see them exploiting the Russian gauge market once Vlad the Mad has gone.

 

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

ScotRail Offers 1st Class For £3 As Luxury Travel Reintroduced

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

To encourage passengers back after the pandemic, Scotrail have introduced a three pound onboard upgrade to First Class on services on Inter7City and Class 385 train services.

This sounds like a good idea!

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Through Settle And Carlisle Service Under Consideration

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

This is the first paragraph.

Plans for a new Leeds to Glasgow through service via the Settle and Carlisle line are being developed, with CrossCountry and the Department for Transport starting to look at the possible scheme.

It sounds like a sensible idea to me.

The article also suggests the following.

  • CrossCountry is a possible operator.
  • CrossCountry are keen to improve services between Leeds and Glasgow
  • The trains could be InterCity 125s, freed up, by a the arrival of Class 221 trains from Avanti West Coast, when they receive their new Class 805 trains.
  • Maintenance of the trains wouldn’t be a problem, as this could be done at Neville Hill in Leeds or Craigentinny in Edinburgh.
  • Services could start in December 2023.

I have a few thoughts of my own!

The Route

The route between Leeds and Carlisle is obvious, but there are two routes between Carlisle and Glasgow.

Trains would probably choose a route and call at stations to maximise passenger numbers.

These stations are on the various routes.

  • Settle and Carlisle – Shipley, Bingley, Keighley, Skipton, Gargrave, Hellifield, Long Preston, Settle, Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead, Dent, Garsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Langwathby, Lazonby & Kirkoswald and Armathwaite
  • Glasgow South Western – Dunlop, Stewarton, Kilmaurs, Kilmarnock, Auchinleck, New Cumnock, Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Annan and Gretna Green
  • West Coast Main – Motherwell, Carstairs and Lockerbie

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

 Upgrading The InterCity 125 Trains

CrossCountry appear to have enough InterCity 125 trains to muster five in a two Class 43  power car and seven Mark 3 coach formation.

They may not be fully in-line with the latest regulations and there may be a need for a certain degree of refurbishment.

These pictures show some details of a refurbished Great Western Railway Castle, which has been fitted with sliding doors.

Will The InterCity 125 Trains Be Shortened?

Scotrail’s Inter7City trains and Great Western Railway’s Castle trains have all been shortened to four or five coaches.

This picture shows a pair of Castles.

Journey Times, Timetable And Frequency

The current journey time between Leeds and Glasgow Central stations via the East Coast Main Line is four hours and eight minutes with nine stops.

The Modern Railways article says this about the current service.

The new service would be targeted at business and leisure travellers, with through journey times competitive with road and faster than the current direct CrossCountry Leeds to Glasgow services via the East Coast main line.

I would expect that CrossCountry are looking for a time of around four hours including the turn round.

  • Stops could be removed to achieve the timing.
  • The trains could run at 125 mph on the West Coast Main Line.

This could enable a train to have the following diagram.

  • 0800 – Depart Leeds
  • 1200 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • 1600 – Depart Leeds
  • 2000 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • Before 2400 – Arrive Leeds

Note.

  1. A second train could start in Glasgow and perform the mirrored timetable.
  2. Timings would probably be ideal for train catering.
  3. Trains would leave both termini at 0800, 1200, 1600 and 2000.
  4. The timetable would need just two trains.

I also think, if a second pair of trains were to be worked into the timetable, there could be one train every two hours on the route, if the demand was there.

I certainly believe there could be a timetable, that would meet the objectives of attracting business and leisure passengers away from the roads.

Tourism And Leisure Potential

The Settle and Carlisle Line is known as one of the most scenic railway lines in England, if not the whole of the UK.

There are important tourist sites all along the route between Leeds and Glasgow

Many of the stations are used by walkers and others interested in country pursuits.

I believe that it is a route that needs a quality rail service.

Travel Between London and Towns Along The Settle And Carlisle Line

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I said this.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

It may seem fast compared to today, but I do believe it is possible.

With a timely connection at Leeds station, will this encourage passengers to places along the Settle and Carlisle line to use the train?

What About the Carbon Emissions?

The one problem with using InterCity 125 trains on this route, is that they are diesel-powered, using a pair of Class 43 locomotives.

But then there are over a hundred of these diesel-electric locomotives in service, nearly all of which are now powered by modern MTU diesel engines, which were fitted in the first decade of this century.

Consider.

  • The locomotives and the coaches they haul have an iconic status.
  • Great Western Railway and Scotrail have recently developed shorter versions of the trains for important routes.
  • There are over a hundred of the locomotives in service.
  • Companies like ULEMCo are developing technology to create diesel-powered vehicles that can run on diesel or hydrogen.
  • There is plenty of space in the back of the locomotives for extra equipment.
  • MTU have a very large number of diesel engines in service. It must be in the company’s interest to find an easy way to cut carbon emissions.
  • I believe that the modern MTU diesel engines could run on biodiesel to reduce their carbon footprint.

And we shouldn’t forget JCB’s technology, which I wrote about in JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen.

If they could develop a 2 MW hydrogen engine, it could be a shoe-in.

I believe that for these and other reasons, a solution will be found to reduce the carbon emissions of these locomotives to acceptable levels.

Conclusion

In this quick look, it appears to me that a Glasgow and Leeds service using InterCity 125 trains could be a very good idea.

May 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

GWR Buys Vehicles Outright In HST Fleet Expansion

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Despite concerns over future passenger numbers, the Department for Transport has given permission for Great Western Railway to procure three more shortened HST diesel trainsets, branded as the Castle Class by the franchisee.

These pictures show some of the Castle Class trains.

They must be profitable and/or popular with passengers.

If I have a problem with these trains, it is with the Class 43 diesel power cars.

  • Each train has two power cars.
  • It would appear that there are about 150 of the Class 43 power cars in regular service.
  • Each is powered by a modern MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engine, that is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The engines are generally less than a dozen years old.
  • They will be emitting a lot of carbon dioxide.

As the trains are now only half as long as they used to be, I would suspect, that the engines won’t be working as hard, as they can.

Hopefully, this will mean less emissions.

The article says this about use of the fleet.

With its fleet now increasing to 14, GWR expects to use 12 each day on services across the west of England. Currently the fleet is deployed on the Cardiff – Bristol – Penzance corridor, but the company is still evaluating how the additional sets will be used.

It also says, that they are acquiring rolling stock from other sources. Some of which will be cannibalised for spares.

Are First Rail Holdings Cutting Carbon Emissions?

First Rail Holdings, who are GWR’s parent, have announced in recent months three innovative and lower-carbon fleets from Hitachi, for their subsidiary companies.

Hitachi have also announced a collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to provide battery packs to replace diesel engines, that could be used on Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

First Rail Holdings have these Class 800/802 fleets.

  • GWR – 36 x five-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 21 x nine-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 22 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • GWR – 14 x nine-car Class 802 trains
  • TransPennine Express – 19 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • Hull Trains – 5 x five-car Class 802 trains

Note.

  1. That is a total of 117 trains.
  2. As five-car trains have three diesel engines and nine-car trains have five diesel engines, that is a total of 357 engines.
  3. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Hull Trains’s Services?, I showed that Hull Trains could run their services with a Fast Charging system in Hull station.
  4. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?, I concluded that Class 802 trains equipped with batteries could handle all their routes without diesel and some strategically-placed charging stations.

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

According to Modern Railways magazine, the limited space available for the GUs has made them prone to overheating. It claims that, on one day in summer 2018, “half the diagrammed units were out of action as engines shut down through overheating.

So would replacing some diesel engines with battery packs, also reduce this problem, in addition to cutting carbon emissions?

It does appear to me, that First Rail Holdings could be cutting carbon emissions in their large fleet of Hitachi Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

The Class 43 power cars could become a marketing nightmare for the company?

Could Class 43 Power Cars Be Decarbonised?

Consider.

  • Class 43 power cars are forty-five years old.
  • They have been rebuilt with new MTU engines in the last dozen years or so.
  • I suspect MTU and GWR know everything there is to know about the traction system of a Class 43 power car.
  • There is bags of space in the rear section of the power car.
  • MTU are part of Rolls-Royce, who because of the downturn in aviation aren’t performing very well!

But perhaps more importantly, the power cars are iconic, so anybody, who decarbonises these fabulous beasts, gets the right sort of high-class publicity.

I would also feel, if you could decarbonise these power cars, the hundreds of diesel locomotives around the world powered by similar diesel engines could be a useful market.

What methods could be used?

Biodiesel

Running the trains on biodiesel would be a simple solution.

  • It could be used short-term or long-term.
  • MTU has probably run the engines on biodiesel to see how they perform.
  • Biodiesel could also be used in GWR’s smaller diesel multiple units, like Class 150, 158, 165 and 166 trains.

Some environmentalists think biodiesel is cheating as it isn’t zero-carbon.

But it’s my view, that for a lot of applications it is a good interim solution, especially, as companies like Altalto, will be making biodiesel and aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, which would otherwise be incinerated or go to landfill.

The Addition Of Batteries

This page on the Hitachi Rail Ltd web site shows this image of the V-Train 2.

This is the introduction to the research program, which was based on a High Speed Train, fotmed of two Class 43 power cars and four Mark 3 carriages.

The V-Train 2 was a demonstration train designed in order to demonstrate our skills and expertise while bidding for the Intercity Express Programme project.

The page  is claiming, that a 20 % fuel saving could be possible.

This paragraph talks about performance.

The V-Train 2 looked to power the train away from the platform using batteries – which would in turn be topped up by regenerative braking when a train slowed down to stop at a station. Acceleration would be quicker and diesel saved for the cruising part of the journey.

A similar arrangement to that Hitachi produced in 2005 could be ideal.

  • Technology has moved on significantly in the intervening years.
  • The performance would be adequate for a train that just trundles around the West Country at 90 mph.
  • The space in the rear of the power car could hold a lot of batteries.
  • The power car would be quiet and emission-free in stations.
  • There would be nothing to stop the diesel engine running on biodiesel.

This might be the sort of project, that Hitachi’s partner in the Regional Battery Train; Hyperdrive Innovation. would probably be capable of undertaking.

MTU Hybrid PowerPack

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that MTU have a drop-in solution for the current 6V4000 R41R diesel engine, that includes a significant amount of batteries.

This must be a serious possibility.

Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW Generator

In Our Sustainability Journey, I talk about rail applications of Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator, that has been developed to provide power for electric flight.

In the post, I discuss fitting the generator into a Class 43 power car and running it on aviation biofuel.

I conclude the section with this.

It should also be noted, that more-efficient and less-polluting MTU engines were fitted in Class 43s from 2005, so as MTU is now part of Rolls-Royce, I suspect that Rolls-Royce have access to all the drawings and engineers notes, if not the engineers themselves

But it would be more about publicity for future sales around the world, with headlines like.

Iconic UK Diesel Passenger Trains To Receive Green Roll-Royce Jet Power!

COVID-19 has given Rolls-Royce’s aviation business a real hammering, so perhaps they can open up a new revenue stream by replacing the engines of diesel locomotives,

I find this an intriguing possibility. Especially, if it were to be fitted with a battery pack.

Answering My Original Question

In answering my original question, I feel that there could be several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a Class 43 power car.

It should also be noted that other operators are users of Class 43 power cars.

  • ScotRail – 56
  • CrossCountry – 12
  • East Midlands Railway – 39
  • Network Rail – 3

Note.

  1. ScotRail’s use of the power cars, is very similar to that of GWR.
  2. CrossCountry’s routes would need a lot of reorganisation to be run by say Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.
  3. East Midlands Railway are replacing their Inter-City 125s with new Class 810 trains.

The picture shows the power car of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train.

These may well be the most difficult to decarbonise, as I suspect they need to run at 125 mph on some routes, which do not have electrification and there are no 125 mph self-powered locomotives. After the Stonehaven crash, there may be more tests to do and a second train may be needed by Network Rail.

Why Are GWR Increasing Their Castle Class Fleet?

These are possible reasons.

GWR Want To Increase Services

This is the obvious explanation, as more services will need more trains.

GWR Want To Update The Fleet

There may be something that they need to do to all the fleet, so having a few extra trains would enable them to update the trains without cutting services.

GWR Want To Partially Or Fully Decarbonise The Power Cars

As with updating the fleet,  extra power cars would help, as they could be modified first and then given a thorough testing before entering passenger service.

GWR Have Been Made An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Suppose Rolls-Royce, MTU or another locomotive power plant manufacturer has a novel idea, they want to test.

Over the years, train operating companies have often tested modified trains and locomotives for manufacturers.

So has a manufacturer, asked GWR to test something in main line service?

Are Other Train Operators Thinking Of Using Introducing More Short-Formed InterCity 125 Trains?

This question has to be asked, as I feel there could be routes, that would be suitable for a net-zero carbon version of a train, like a GWR Castle or a ScotRail Inter7City.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains is now run by the Department for Transport and has surely the most suitable route in the UK for a shorted-formed InterCity 125 train – Leeds and Carlisle via the Settle and Carlisle Line.

Northern Trains may have other routes.

Transport for Wales Rail Services

Transport for Wales Rail Services already run services between Cardiff Central and Holyhead using diesel locomotive hauled services and long distance services between South Wales and Manchester using diesel multiple units.

Would an iconic lower-carbon train be a better way of providing some services and attract more visitors to the Principality?

Conclusion

GWR must have a plan, but there are few clues to what it is.

The fact that the trains have been purchased rather than leased could be significant and suggests to me that because there is no leasing company involved to consult, GWR are going to do major experimental modifications to the trains.

They may be being paid, by someone like an established or new locomotive engine manufacturer.

It could also be part of a large government innovation and decarbonisation project.

My hunch says that as First Rail Holdings appear to be going for a lower-carbon fleet, that it is about decarbonising the Class 43 power cars.

The plan would be something like this.

  • Update the three new trains to the new specification.
  • Give them a good testing, before certifying them for service.
  • Check them out in passenger service.
  • Update all the trains.

The three extra trains would give flexibility and mean that there would always be enough trains for a full service.

Which Methods Could Be Used To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of The Class 43 Power Cars?

These must be the front runners.

  • A Hitachi/Hyperdrive Innovation specialist battery pack.
  • An MTU Hybrid PowerPack.
  • A Rolls-Royce MTU solution based on the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator with batteries.

All would appear to be viable solutions.

 

 

 

 

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Would It Have Been Better To Scrap HSTs, Abandon Class 769 Trains And Use Stadler Bi-Mode Flirts Instead?

I have ridden for several hours in Greater Anglia'[s new Class 755 trains and they seem to make good trains for scenic rural lines.

From December 16th, we’ll be seeing them work between Stansted and Norwich, which will show their mettle as true bi-modes working a partially-electrified route.

By mid-next year they will be working the following partially-electrified routes.

  • Liverpool Street and Lowestoft
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Stansted
  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Sudbury and Colchester Town

I think that about forty percent of these routes are electrified and they also include a lot of 100 mph lines.

ScotRail

These Greater Anglia routes are not unlike some of the ScotRail Inter7City routes, which are to be run by shorterned four- and five-car HSTs.

Both trains have been late because of training and other issues, but delivery of the HSTs seems to have got stuck round various remanufacturing problems at Wabtec.

Would ScotRail have done better to follow their sister company Greater Anglia and buy some Class 755 trains to their specification?

Consider the advantages of the Inter7City over the Class 755 train.

  • Nostalgia
  • Well-known engineering
  • Comfortable

They could have been obtained at an affordable price.

But they do come with disadvantages.

  • Forty years old
  • Two big diesel engines
  • They are rather dark and dingy inside.

The Class 755 trains also have the following advantages.

  • They would help to remove diesel power from Edinburgh, Glasgow Queen Street and Stirling stations.
  • They have large picture windows ideal for looking at lakes and mountains.
  • Some seats are raised for a better view.
  • They are genuine 100 mph trains, which could be uprated to 125 mph, so would be ideal for incursions on the fast routes to England.
  • They’re probably ready to fit ERTMS.
  • They come in various lengths.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

But the biggest advantage is that they could extend Scotland’s electric network by using the bi-mode capability.

Think.

  • Fife Circle
  • Borders Railway
  • West Kilbride
  • Perth
  • West Highland Line

I think Scotland could really get to love these trains.

Great Western Railway

I could see a case for running shortened HSTs in the far South West, where GWR call them Castles, mainly on nostalgia and tourism grounds, but Class 755 trains would surely be better running the following partially-electrified services.

  • Henley and Paddington
  • Oxford and Gatwick via Reading
  • Oxford and Paddington
  • Cardiff and Taunton
  • Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour

Often, they would be replacing Class 156 or Class 769 trains.

  • Some would need to be fitted with third-rail equipment.
  • The Gatwick services could be given an airport interior.
  • I suspect a 125 mph capability is available.
  • The Class 769 trains seem to be late in arriving.

I have no doubt in my mind, that the new Stadler trains are much better than the refurbished British Rail trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales have ordered a selection of bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts.

They must have good reasons for buying a selection of trains, rather than buying more Flirts.

Probably cost!

All these routes could be run using bi-mode Flirts

  • Cardiff and Holyhead
  • Birmingham International and Holyhead
  • Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • Crewe and Chester
  • Chester and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Milford Haven and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Birmingham International and Aberystwyth via Shrewsbury
  • Birmingham International and Pwllheli via Shrewsbury
  • Heart of Wales Line
  • Conwy Valley Line

Some of these routes are partially electrified and use lines with a 125 mph operating speed.

Answering The Question In The Title

I very much feel that bi-mode Flirts would be better trains than shortened HSTs and Class 769 trains.

  • They are new trains.
  • They can use electrification, where it is present.
  • The appear to be capable of uprating to 125 mph.
  • They have good viewing for scenic routes because of large windows and some raised seats.
  • They are comfortable with a good ride.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

I  suspect their one downside is cost.

Conclusion

Bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts and other similar trains will proliferate and within ten years we’ll have seen the last of pure diesel trains in the UK.

I suspect that most of the shortened HSTs will have gone by 2030.

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

National Trust Looks At Car Ban In Lake District

The title of this post is the same as that as that of this article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The secondary headline sums up the article.

Nearly 20m visitors a year are ‘loving the national park to death’, and officials are looking at excluding drivers.

So what is to be done?

Can The Railways Help?

In 2015, I spent Three Days in Preston and explored the area by train.

These problems were apparent on the trains and at the stations.

  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains to Windermere is pitiful.
  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains along the Cumbrian Coast Line is inadequate.
  • Bus information and interchanges could be better.
  • Getting a train to Penrith North Lakes station was difficult.

The only line with an acceptable train service is the West Coast Main Line.

Everything else needs major improvements.

These are some random thoughts.

Could Carlisle Become The Rail Tourism Centre For The Borderlands And The Lakes?

These rail lines and services are already or will be connected to Carlisle Citadel station, within the next few years.

  • Virgin services on the West Coast Main Line between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • TransPennine Express services on the West Coast Main Line between Liverpool and Manchester in the South and Glasgow.
  • Possible Grand Union services on the West Coast Main Line between London and Stirling for the North of Scotland.
  • High Speed Two services between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • ScotRail services on the Glasgow South Western Line between Carlisle and Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
  • ScotRail services on an extended Borders Railway between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Hawick and Galashiels.
  • Northern services on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle via Hexham and the Metro Centre.
  • Northern services on the Settle and Carlisle Line between Carlisle and Leeds.
  • Northern services on the Cumbrian Coast Line between Carlisle and Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow.

Carlisle sits at the centre of a network of some of the most scenic rail lines, anywhere in the world.

Rail services in the area with the exception of the through services, provided by Virgin and TransPennine Express are probably considered by their operators to be a pain.

  • They are generally not used by commuters.
  • There are regular operational problems like floods and landslips.
  • They are overcrowded at some times of the year and need expensive new rolling stock.
  • Rail tourists from aboard probably complain like mad.

But above all the services probably lose money hand over fist.

What Is The Ideal Train For Scenic Routes?

Two possible trains for scenic routes are now in service in the UK.

The Scottish Solution – Inter7City

ScotRail are now introducing four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains on routes between the seven cities in Scotland.

They will probably do a good job and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • Many seats have tables.
  • An on-board buffet and trolley service.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains should be reliable, as there is a vast knowledge base about running these trains.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains were 125 mph trains and are probably slower in this application.

But the trains are forty years old and have two enormous diesel engines on each end.

The Swiss Solution – Class 755 train

Greater Anglia are introducing three- and four-car Class 755 trains on rural routes in East Anglia.

They appear to be doing a good job with high passenger satisfaction and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • A number of seats have tables.
  • Space for bicycles.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform.
  • Hopefully, the trains will be reliable, as they are brand new and Stadler has been making similar trains for over ten years.
  • The trains can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it is available.
  • The trains can work in multiple formations.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains are 100 mph trains.

But the trains still have a diesel power-pack in the middle for operation independently.

In future, these trains will be used to run new services between London and Lowestoft, which is a distance of 118 miles of which 59 miles is electrified.

Similar trains will be fitted with batteries for the South Wales Metro.

Could a train be built with the best of all the features?

I believe the Class 755 train is a pretty good start, but it would have the following extra features.

  • Ability to run at up to 125 mph on 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail, where the track allows.
  • A well-designed buffet.
  • 50 mile battery range.
  • A stand-by generator.
  • The ability to fast-charge the battery at a station stop.

I also think that Hitachi could make a five-car AT-300 train and Bombardier could make an Aventra, that met this specification.

What would a fleet of battery-electric trains do for the rail lines around Carlisle?

  • Hopefully, they would become a tourist attraction in their own right and encourage visitors to corm by train.
  • Frequencies would be at least two trains per hour on all routes.

This could be a starting point for making the area easier to access.

Should Stations Around The Lakes Be Developed With Bus Interchanges?

I’ve seen the bus interchange at Windermere station, but are other stations around the Lakes as well provided with comprehensive bus routes?

The objective surely should be that if a family wanted to have a day out in the Lakes from their home in Liverpool or Manchester, they should be able to get a train to a convenient station and a bus to their final destination.

Surely, if there is a sensible alternative, then visitors might use it.

Could The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway Be Reopened?

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway was finally closed in the 1970s and according to Wikipedia, the track-bed has been used for roads and other developments.

I doubt that the railway could be reopened, but a modern light rail route would probably be a very valuable tourist asset.

But Would Good Train And Bus Routes Cut The Traffic In The Lakes?

I doubt it!

If someone has spent £40,000 or more on an expensive car, they feel they have bought the right to drive it anywhere they want!

The Dutch once talked about road pricing for every vehicle and that government lost the next election.

Conclusion

Traffic congestion in the Lakes, is a problem that threatens other areas, where tourists want to go.

So will as the National Trust are suggesting have to ban cars to restore some sanity?

I suspect so!

But it won’t be popular!

 

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Mysterious Scotsman

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a Scot called Andrew, who wanted to talk to me about blogging and my blog in particular.

I said, on my next trip North, why don’t we meet at somewhere like Stirling, which I sometimes use as a base for trips. I wrote about the city as a base in this post called Stirling.

We met and had a pizza in the City and we talked about Stirling’s direct rail connections to London.

This morning, I was looking up Grand Union, who are a proposed open-access train company, who aim to be running a rail service between London Paddington and Wales, within the next few years using InterCity 225 trains.

And what did I find?

The company is also proposing to run a service between London and Scotland. In a London-Scotland section in the Wikipedia entry, this is said.

In August 2019, Grand Union lodged an application to operate three or four trains per day between London Euston and Stirling calling at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert with InterCity 225s from May 2021.

As I said in my meeting, I feel that a direct London and Stirling service could be invaluable.

  • Stirling has good rail connections to the rest of Scotland.
  • Stirling will be served by Scotrail’s upmarket Inter7City services.
  • The route is fully-electrified between London and Stirling.

I doubt the good burghers of Stirling would object.

I have a few comments.

The Route

The route is interesting, as it gives some new connectivity, that I’m sure will be welcomed by customers.

Milton Keynes

Consider.

  • Milton Keynes Central is a well-connected station.
  • It will get even better when the East-West Rail Link is opened in a few years.
  • Some journeys will be easier with a change at Milton Keynes, rather than in London.

Current services between Milton Keynes and Scotland, go via Birmingham.

Nuneaton

Nuneaton is becoming a busy hub station between Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester and must improve services along the West Coast Main Line to and from the North and Scotland.

Crewe, Preston And Carlisle

The new service will add connectivity to these important hubs.

Lockerbie

Lockerbie station only gets three trains per day in both directions.

If Grand Union stopped all their services, this would double the number of services calling at Lockerbie.

Motherwell, , Whifflet, Greenfaulds And Larbert

These stations should give good connectivity in South-East Glasgow, with links to Ayr in the West and Edinburgh in the East.

Stiring Station

In addition to good rail connectivity, Stirling station is not  far from the City Centre and has good facilities.

The Trains

Wikipedia says the services will be run by InterCity 225 trains.

I would assume they will be shortened to perhaps five to seven cars.

The Timings

Currently, the fastest train between Euston and Motherwell is the 17:30, which takes fours and fifteen minutes, with six stops.

As the proposed service would also take six stops between Euston and Motherwell, I would assume that Grand Union would be aiming for a similar time.

Looking at individual timings on the route the train would take between Motherwell snd Stirling via Whifflet, Coatbridge Central, Greenfaulds, Cumbernauld, Carmuirs Junction and Larbert, I am fairly certain that a train running with three scheduled stops could do the trip in around 38-42 minutes.

This is the summary of the times.

  • London Euston and Motherwell – four hours and fifteen minutes.
  • Motherwell and Stirling – 38-42 minutes.

Which would give a time between Euston and Stirling of around five hours.

This compares with the current best timings.

  • London Kings Cross and Stirling – five hours and eighteen minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh – four hours and twenty minutes
  • London Euston and Glasgow – four hours and thirty minutes

So the new service would appear to give the following advantages.

  • A faster service between London and Stirling.
  • Faster services between London and Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.

This is in addition to the big advantage of three or four new direct services per day.

Services Between The South And Inverness With A Change At Stirling

Could this be one of the markets that Grand Union are looking to exploit?

Currently, there are two direct services between London and Inverness.

  • The daily direct daytime service takes eight hours and runs once a day.
  • The Sleeper takes even longer, but you do get an overnight rest.

So could a service between London and Stirling provide extra services?

Consider.

  • Currently, Scotrail’s services between Stirling and Inverness take just under three hours and run roughly two-hourly.
  • Network Rail are improving the Highland Main Line with passing loops and longer platforms to increase capacity and operating speeds.
  • Scotrail are introducing new better quality Inter7City trains on the route.
  • The new December 2019 timetable looks like services could be a few minutes faster.

I suspect, if the trains were appropriately timetabled, there could be extra services between Inverness and London Euston.

  • There would be a change of train at Stirling.
  • Timing could be around seven and a half hours.
  • Both trains would be high-quality ones.

I suspect that three new services with times of less than eight hours could be created bertween London and Inverness

The Glasgow By-Pass

If you want to go between Carlisle and Stirling, you will be recommended to take the following route.

  • Carlisle to Glasgow Central – Up to four trains per hour (tph)
  • Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street – Walk as I do or a bus.
  • Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling – three tph

The journey time is just over two and a half hours.

I estimate that Grand Union’s services could go between Carlisle and Stirling in around forty-five minutes less, without a change of train.

The route is also now fully-electrified between Stirling and Carlisle, so could this be used by other services.

High Speed Two

When High Speed Two is completed, there will be two tph to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, with I suspect the trains working as a pair South of Carstairs, where they will split and join.

I suspect that High Speed Two will take the lion’s share of passengers between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow, but the two services could work together.

  • It might be quicker to change at Preston to Grand Union, if you’re going to Stirling.
  • If Stirling to Aberdeen and/or Inverness were to be electrified, could classic-compatible High Speed Two trains go further North?
  • At the Southern end, places like Milton Keynes and Nuneaton will not be served by High Speed Two, but existing and Grand Union services could provide connections.
  • North of Crewe, it is planed that High Speed Two will run on an upgraded West Coast Main Line.

For reasons like this High Speed Two will need to be integrated with other services.

Conclusion

Grand Union will make services from London to Stirling and the Northern part of coitland netter and more competitive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments