The Anonymous Widower

Highland Council Forges Green Hydrogen Pact

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Getech subsidiary H2 Green has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Highland Council in Scotland aimed at creating a regional network of green hydrogen hubs across the Scottish Highlands.

Under the terms of the MoU, H2 Green and the Highland Council will produce a regional plan to develop a network of green hydrogen hubs at optimal locations across the region.

The first hub appears to be in Inverness, as I wrote in Hydrogen Hub Plan Will Cut Transport Sector Emissions In The Highlands.

But that is only the start.

  • Green hydrogen will be used in transport in the Highlands.
  • By-products like oxygen and heat will be distributed.
  • Delivery of Highland decarbonisation will be planned.
  • SGN Commercial Services will service large-volume customers.
  • Agreements are in place for Eversholt Rail to deploy their hydrogen-powered trains on the Far North and West Highland Lines of Scotland.

This statement from Jonathan Copus of Getech, sums up the objectives of the hydrogen project.

These activities combined with the Highland Council initiative are set to establish the Highlands as the leading UK-centre for decarbonisation and innovation; they will also support job creation, deliver energy security and provide a sustainable path for the region’s net zero transition.

I believe that a similar approach could be taken in other parts of the UK. Cornwall, East Anglia, Lincolnshire, much of Wales and the Borderlands between England and Scotland come to mind.

Each region will probably, decarbonise slightly differently and each will develop more and more innovative ways to use the hydrogen.

Conclusion

Hydrogen will play a large part in the decarbonisation of the UK.

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hydrogen Hub Plan Will Cut Transport Sector Emissions In The Highlands

The total of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Ross-Shire Journal.

This is the introduction to the article.

The site of one of the Highland capital’s most distinctive industrial landmarks is set to take on new life and a new role, helping decarbonise transport in the region.

The former SGN gas holder site on Harbour Road, Inverness, has been identified by H2 Green as an ideal location for its new green hydrogen production, storage, and distribution facility.

H2 Green, which is part of the Getech Group, signed a deal with gas network operator SGN for use of the site, which lies between Inverness’s rail depot and industrial area.

This Google Map shows the centre of Inverness.

Note.

  1. Inverness station in the South West corner of the map.
  2. Inverness bus station is nearby.
  3. Harbour Road runs across the top of the map.

It looks to me that the round structure in the North East corner is the former SGN gas holder.

These are my thoughts.

The Size Of The Electrolyser

At eight tonnes of hydrogen per day, the proposed electrolyser would be almost as big as the Herne Bay Electrolyser, which creates ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

Could The Gas Holder Be Used To Store Hydrogen?

As the gas holder was probably built for town gas, which contains a lot of hydrogen, I suspect it could be refurbished to hold hydrogen.

Oxygen Production

The article also says this about oxygen production.

The hub could also provide zero-carbon heat and medical-grade oxygen for hospitals, aquaculture and water treatment works in the area.

Could it be that oxygen is at a premium in the Highlands, so H2 Green are filling a need?

At the height of the pandemic, when hospitals had an oxygen shortage, I asked ITM Power, if they could produce medical grade oxygen, as a by-product of creating hydrogen. They replied in the affirmative.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that H2 Green have a well-thought out plan for hydrogen in The Highlands.

December 14, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On Batteries On A Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

This Hitachi infographic describes a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Hitachi are creating the first of these battery trains, by replacing one of the diesel power-packs in a Class 802 train with a battery-pack from Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%, gives a few more details.

The Class 802 train has the following characteristics.

  • Five cars.
  • Three diesel power-packs, each with a power output of 700 kW.
  • 125 mph top speed on electricity.
  • I believe all intermediate cars are wired for diesel power-packs, so can all intermediate cars have a battery?

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?, I estimated that the trains need the following amounts of energy to keep them at a constant speed.

  • Class 801 train – 125 mph 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile
  • Class 801 train – 100 mph 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile

The figures are my best estimates.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, also gives the weight of the diesel power-pack and all its related gubbins.

The axle load of the train is given as 15 tonnes, but for a car without a diesel engine it is given as 13 tonnes.

As there are four axles to a car, I can deduce that the diesel power-pack and the gubbins, weigh around eight tonnes.

How much power would a one tonne battery hold?

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

Using these figures, a one-tonne battery would be between 100 and 265 kWh in capacity, depending on the energy density.

As it is likely that if the diesel power-pack replacement would probably leave things like fuel tanks and radiators behind, so that the diesel engines could be reinstalled, I would expect that a battery of around four tonnes would be fitted.

On the basis of the University of Washington’s figures a 400 kWh battery pack would certainly be feasible.

Using. the energy use at 100 mph of 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile, I can get the following ranges for different battery sizes.

  • 400 kWh battery – 36.53 miles
  • 500 kWh battery – 45.67 miles
  • 600 kWh battery – 54.80 miles
  • 800 kWh battery – 73.06 miles

As Lincoln and Newark are just 16.6 miles apart, it looks to me that a 500 or 600 kWh battery could be a good choice for that route, as it would leave enough hotel power for the turnround.

It should also handle shorter routes like these.

  • Newbury and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles.
  • Didcot and Oxford – 10.3 miles
  • Newark and Lincoln – 16.6 miles
  • Leeds and Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • Northallerton and Middlesbrough – 20 miles
  • Hull and Temple Hirst Junction and Hull – 36.1 miles

Some routes like Temple Hirst Junction and Hull would need charging at the destination.

The Range Of A Five Car Train With Three Batteries

Suppose a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train had three battery-packs and no diesel engines.

  • It would be based on Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train technology.
  • It would have two driver cars without batteries.
  • It would have three intermediate cars with 600 kWh batteries.
  • It would have 1800 kWh in the batteries.
  • The train would be optimised for 100 mph running.
  • My estimate says it would need 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile to cruise at 100 mph.

It could have a range of up to 164 miles.

If the batteries were only 500 kWh, the range would be 137 miles.

The Ultimate Battery Train

I think it would be possible to put together a nine car battery-electric train with a long range.

  • It would be based based on Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train technology, which would be applied to a Class 800 or Class 802 train.
  • It would have two driver cars without batteries.
  • It would have seven intermediate cars with 600 kWh batteries.
  • It would have a total battery capacity of 4200 kWh.
  • The train would be optimised for 100 mph running.
  • My estimate in How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?, said it would need 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile to cruise at 100 mph.

That would give a range of over 200 miles.

If the batteries were only 500 kWh, the range would be 178 miles.

Aberdeen, Inverness, Penzance and Swansea here we come.

Can Hitachi Increase The Range Further?

There are various ways that the range can be improved.

  • More electrically-efficient on-board systems like air-conditioning.
  • A more aerodynamic nose.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Batteries with a higher energy density.
  • Better driver assistance software.

Note.

  1. Hitachi have already announced that the Class 810 trains for East Midlands Railway will have a new nose profile.
  2. Batteries are improving all the time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a ten percent improvement in range by 2030.

Conclusion

I was surprised at some of the results of my estimates.

But I do feel that Hitachi trains with 500-600 kWh batteries could bring a revolution to train travel in the UK.

Edinburgh And Aberdeen

Consider.

  • The gap in the electrification is 130 miles between Edinburgh Haymarket and Aberdeen.
  • There could be an intermediate charging station at Dundee.
  • Charging would be needed at Aberdeen.

I think Hitachi could design a train for this route.

Edinburgh And Inverness

Consider.

  • The gap in the electrification is 146 miles between Stirling and Inverness.
  • This could be shortened by 33 miles, if there were electrification between Stirling and Perth.
  • Charging would be needed at Inverness.

I think Hitachi could design a train for this route.

 

May 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Roger Ford’s Cunning Plan

In the February 2020 of Modern Railways, there is an article called LNER Procurement, which has been written by Roger Ford.

It is Roger’s reply to an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, which was entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes.

He starts by describing the requirement and then says this.

Would any fleet engineer in his or her right mind want to add a unique sub-fleet of 10 high speed trains to an existing successful fleet, even if they were hydrogen-electric tri-modes from the respected Kim Chong t’ae Electric Locomotive Works?

In my analysis of the December 2020 article, I wrote this post with the same name, where I said this, under a heading of More Azumas?

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

So it would appear that Roger and myself are vaguely in agreement on the subject of more Azumas.

The last section of the article has a title of Cunning.

Roger puts forward, the view that the procurement process, as well as being compatible with EU law, could be a warning to Hitachi, to make sure that LNER get a good deal.

It certainly could be, and I remember a similar maneuver by ICI around 1970.

The company was buying a lot of expensive IBM 360 computers.

ICI needed a new computer to do scientific calculations at their Central Instrument Research Establishment (CIRL) at Pangbourne in Berkshire.

  • English Electric had just released a clone of an IBM 360 and were keen to sell it to ICI.
  • As it would do everything that ICI wanted, they bought one.
  • It worked well and did everything that CIRL wanted at a cheaper price.

IBM’s reaction was supposedly quick and dramatic. The salesman who dealt with ICI, was immediately fired!

But as ICI had about a dozen large IBM computers, there wasn’t much they could do to one of the most important and largest UK companies.

IBM also made sure, that ICI got their next computer at a good price.

I’m with Roger that all the shenanigans are a warning to Hitachi.

Roger finishes the article with these two paragraphs.

A genuine bluff would have been to seek bids for the long-term deployment of remanufactured IC225s. Which in these straitened times could still turn out to be a more viable option.

I rather fancy the idea of a hydrogen-electric Class 91. Owner Eversholt Rail might even have played along on the understanding that it funded the inevitable hybrid Azumas.

Note that IC225s are InterCity 225 trains.

  • The 31 trains, were built for  British Rail in the 1980s.
  • They are hauled by a 4.83 MW Class 91 locomotive, which is usually at the Northern end of the train.
  • Nine Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer complete the train.
  • As with the Hitachi Azumas (Class 800 and Class 801 trains), they are capable of operating at 140 mph on lines where digital in-cab ERTMS signalling has been installed.

I just wonder, if a Class 91 locomotive could be to the world’s first 140 mph hydrogen-electric locomotive.

Consider the following.

Dynamics

The wheels, bogies and traction system were designed by British Rail Engineering Ltd, who were the masters of dynamics. This is a sentence from the locomotive’s Wikipedia entry.

Unusually, the motors are body mounted and drive bogie-mounted gearboxes via cardan shafts. This reduces the unsprung mass and hence track wear at high speeds.

That is a rather unique layout. But it obviously works, as otherwise these locomotives would have been scrapped decades ago.

I believe the quality dynamics are because BREL owned a PACE 231R for a start, which was an analogue computer, that was good enough for NASA to use two computers like this to calculate how to put a man on the moon.

London and Edinburgh is a slightly shorter distance, run at a somewhat slower speed.

Space

This picture shows a Class 91 locomotive.

What is in the space in the rear end of the nearly twenty metre-long locomotive?

This sentence from the Wikipedia entry for the locomotive gives a clue.

The locomotive also features an underslung transformer, so that the body is relatively empty compared to contemporary electric locomotives.

It also states that much of the layout came from the APT-P, which was a version of the tilting Advanced Passenger Train.

Would the space be large enough for a tank of hydrogen and some form of generator that used the hydrogen as fuel?

It should be noted that one version of the APT used a gas-turbine engine, so was the locomotive designed for future use as a bi-mode?

Fuel Cells

I’ve ignored fuel cells, as to get the amount of power needed, the fuel cells could be too large for the locomotive.

Class 91 Locomotive Performance

The performance of a Class 91 locomotive is as follows.

  • Power output – 4.83 MW
  • Operating speed – 140 mph
  • Record Speed – 161 mph

Not bad for a 1980s locomotive.

Required Performance Using Hydrogen Fuel

If the locomotives were only needed to use hydrogen to the North of the electrification from London, the locomotive would need to be able to haul a rake of coaches twice on the following routes.

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh Haymarket – 130 miles
  • Inverness and Stirling – 146 miles

A range of three hundred miles would be sufficient.

The locomotive would need refuelling at Aberdeen and Inverness.

The operating speed of both routes is nowhere near 140 mph and I suspect that a maximum speed of 100 mph on hydrogen, pulling or pushing a full-size train, would probably be sufficient.

When you consider that a nine-car Class 800 train has five 560 kW diesel engines, that give a total power of 2.8 MW, can carry 611 passengers and an InterCity 225 can only carry 535, I don’t think that the power required under hydrogen will be as high as that needed under electricity.

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW generator, that is the size of a beer keg. I wrote about it in Our Sustainability Journey.

Could one of these incredibly-powerful generators provide enough power to speed an InterCity 225 train, through the Highlands of Scotland to Aberdeen and Inverness, at speeds of up to 100 mph.

I would give it a high chance of being a possible dream.

Application Of Modern Technology

I do wonder, if the locomotive’s cardan shaft drive could be improved by modern technology.

These pictures show Joseph Bazalgette’s magnificent Abbey Mills Pumping station in East London.

A few years ago, Thames Water had a problem. Under the pumping station are Victorian centrifugal pumps that pump raw sewage to Beckton works for treatment. These are connected to 1930s electric motors in Dalek-like structures on the ground floor, using heavy steel shafts. The motors are controlled from the control panel in the first image.

The shafts were showing signs of their age and needed replacement.

So Thames Water turned to the experts in high-power transmission at high speed – Formula One.

The pumps are now connected to the electric motors, using high-strength, lower-weight carbon-fibre shafts.

Could this and other modern technology be used to update the cardan shafts and other parts of these locomotives?

Could The Locomotives Use Regenerative Braking To Batteries?

I’ll start by calculating the kinetic energy of a full InterCity 225 train.

  • The Class 91 locomotive weighs 81.5 tonnes
  • Nine Mark 4 coaches weigh a total of 378 tonnes
  • A driving van trailer weighs 43.7 tonnes.
  • This gives a total weight of 503.2 tonnes.

Assuming that each of the 535 passengers, weighs 90 Kg with babies, baggage, bikes and buggies, this gives a passenger weight of 48.15 tonnes or a total train weight of 551.35 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives the following values at different speeds.

  • 100 mph – 153 kWh
  • 125 mph – 239 kWh
  • 140 mph – 300 kWh

I think, that a 300 kWh battery could be fitted into the back of the locomotive, along with the generator and the fuel tank.

With new traction motors, that could handle regenerative braking, this would improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Sustainable aviation fuel produced by companies like Altalto would surely be an alternative to hydrogen.

  • It has been tested by many aerospace companies in large numbers of gas turbines.
  • As it has similar properties to standard aviation fuel, the handling rules are well-known.

When produced from something like household waste, by Altalto, sustainable aviation fuel is carbon-neutral and landfill-negative.

ERTMS Signalling And Other Upgrades

Full ERTMS digital signalling will needed to be fitted to the trains to enable 140 mph running.

Conclusion

I believe it is possible to convert a Class 91 locomotive into a hydrogen-electric locomotive with the following specification.

  • 4.83 MW power on electricity.
  • 140 mph on electrification
  • 2.5 MW on hydrogen power.
  • 100 mph on hydrogen
  • Regenerative braking to battery.

If it were easier to use sustainable aviation fuel, that may be a viable alternative to hydrogen, as it is easier to handle.

 

February 3, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes

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

This is the opening paragraph.

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

Some other points from the article.

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

The last paragraph is very informative.

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

These are my thoughts.

More Azumas?

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

Classic-Compatible Trains For High Speed Two

Consider.

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

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

Hopefully, the various government-controlled companies are talking.

A Flagship Train For Aberdeen And Inverness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few extra thoughts.

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

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

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

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

A New Elizabethan

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

I have laid out my ideas for a modern express train of the same name in A New Elizabethan.

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

Splitting And Joining

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

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

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

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

Currently LNER have these paths to and from Kings Cross.

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

Note.

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

There are a lot of possibilities for splitting and joining.

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

What Will Happen To Nine Car Azumas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the formations of the two trains.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Increase In Paths From 5 To 6.5

This will certainly allow LNER to run more services.

The odd half path could be easy to explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.

Consider.

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

I think this could lead to the following.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 25, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work LNER’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains

For this post, I will assume that the train is five  or nine-cars long. This is the length of LNER‘s Class 800 and 801 trains.

LNER’s Services

These are LNER services that run from London to the North of England and Scotland.

I shall go through all the services and see how they would be affected by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train.

London Kings Cross And Edinburgh

  • The service runs at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Some services extend to Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness and are discussed in the following sections.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Aberdeen

  • The service runs at a frequency of four trains per day (tpd)
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Inverkeithing, Kirkaldy, Leuchars, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose and Stonehaven.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 394 miles to Haymarket.

The service is 524 miles long and takes seven hours and four minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Inverkeithing – 12 miles – Not Electrified
  • Inverkeithing and Kirkcaldy – 13 miles – Not Electrified
  • Kirkaldy and Leuchars – 25 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leuchars and Dundee – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dundee and Arbroath – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Arbroath and Montrose – 14 miles – Not Electrified
  • Montrose and Stonehaven – 24 miles – Not Electrified
  • Stonehaven and Aberdeen – 16 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles
  2. Dundee and Stonehaven is a distance of 55 miles

So could the service be run with Fast Charge systems at Dundee, Stonehaven and Aberdeen?

I think it could, but the problem would be charging time at Dundee and Stonehaven, as it could add twenty minutes to the journey time and make timetabling difficult on the route.

Perhaps, an alternative would be to electrify a section in the middle of the route to create an electrification island, that could be reached from both Haymarket and Aberdeen.

The obvious section to electrify would be between Dundee and Montrose.

  • It is a distance of 31 miles to electrify.
  • I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and it could be already gauge-cleared for electrification,
  • Dundee station has been recently rebuilt.
  • Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles.
  • Montrose and Aberdeen is a distance of 40 miles.
  • Pantographs could be raised and lowered at Dundee and Montrose stations.

With this electrification and a Fast Charge system at Aberdeen, I believe that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train could run between London Kings Cross and Aberdeen.

As an alternative to the Fast Charge system at Aberdeen, the route of Aberdeen Crossrail between Aberdeen and Inverurie could be electrified.

  • This would enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to run between Inverurie and Montrose.
  • The route through Aberdeen is newly-built, so should be gauge-cleared and reasonably easy to electrify.

It should also be noted that if battery-electric trains can run between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, then these services are also possible, using the same trains.

  • Glasgow and Aberdeen
  • Stirling and Aberdeen

All passenger services  between Scotland’s Cenreal Belt and Aberdeen appear to be possible using battery-electric trains

London Kings Cross And Stirling

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Inverness

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown, Stirling, Gleneagles, Perth, Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 429 miles to Stirling, but I have read that the Scottish government would like to see it extended to Perth, which is 462 miles from London.

The service is 581 miles long and takes eight hours and six minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Falkirk Grahamsrown – 23 miles – Electrified
  • Falkirk Grahamsrown and Stirling – 11 miles – Electrified.
  • Stirling and Gleneagles – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Gleneagles and Perth –  16 miles – Not Electrified
  • Perth and Pitlochry – 28 miles – – Not Electrified
  • Pitlochry and Kingussie – 44 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Kingussie and Aviemore – 12 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Aviemore and Inverness – 34 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The distance between Dunblane, where the electrification actually finishes and Perth is only 28 miles, which shouldn’t be too challenging.
  2. All the sections North of Perth are well within range of a fully charged train.
  3. Some sections of the route are challenging. Look at the video I published in Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST.
  4. Hitachi run diesel Class 800 trains to Inverness, so they must know the power required and the battery size to run between Perth and Inverness.

I also believe that the Scottish Government, ScotRail, the Highland tourist industry and Hitachi, would all put their endeavours behind a project to get battery-electric trains between Perth and Inverness.

It would send a powerful message, that if battery-electric trains can run on one of the most scenic rail lines in the world without electrification, then nowhere is out of reach of battery trains.

Looking at the figures, I am convinced that a series of Fast Charge systems at stations like Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore could supply enough power to allow a nine-car version of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train to work the route.

This battery-electrification, would also enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to work the route.

If all this sounds a bit fanciful and over ambitious, read the history of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, which brought electricity to the area in the 1940s and 1950s.

This battery-electrification is a small project compared to what the Hydro-Electric Board achieved.

I can see a time, when similar techniques allow battery-electric trains to run these lines from Inverness.

  • Far North Line – 174 miles
  • Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh – 82 miles
  • Inverness and Aberdeen – 108 miles

The Far North Line would probably need two or three Fast Charge systems at intermediate stations, but the other lines would probably only need one system, somewhere in the middle.

I think that this analysis for London and Inverness shows that all parts of England, Scotland and Wales can be served by modern battery-electric trains.

It would also appear that the cost of the necessary Fast Charging systems, would be much more affordable than full electrification, North of Perth.

I estimate that less than a dozen Fast Charging systems would be needed, North of Perth.

  • Some electrification might be needed in Inverness station.
  • Electrification between Inverurie and Aberdeen could help.
  • There’s no shortage of zero-carbon electricity from wind and hydro-electric power.

A couple of years ago, I speculated in a post called London To Thurso Direct.

Could it happen on a regular basis in the summer months?

London Kings Cross And Leeds

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Harrogate

  • The service runs at a frequency of six tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Harrogate is a distance of nineteen miles and is not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Leeds to Harrogate and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification at and around Leeds.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Bradford Foster Square

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Bradford Forster Square is a distance of fourteen miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Skipton

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Skipton is a distance of twenty-six miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Lincoln

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per two hours (1tp2h)
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • Newark North Gate and Lincoln is a distance of sixteen miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Newark North Gate to Lincoln and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification between Newark North Gate and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And York

  • The service runs at a frequency of 1tp2h
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Hull

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster
  • Temple Hirst Junction and Hull is a distance of thirty-six miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Temple Hirst Junction and Hull and back, using battery power and a Fast Charge system at Hull.
  • Batteries will also be charged using the electrification between Temple Hirst Junction and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

Consider.

  • The train runs seventy-two miles to get to Hull and back on lines without electrification..
  • Hitachi state that the trains maximum range on battery power is sixty-five miles.
  • Hull Trains and TransPennine Express also run similar trains on this route, that will need charging at Hull.

So rather than installing a Fast Charge system at Hull, would it be better to do one of the following.

  • Create a battery-electric AT-300 train with a bigger battery and a longer range. A One-Size-Fits-All could be better.
  • However, the larger battery would be an ideal solution for Hull Trains, who also have to reverse and go on to Beverley.
  • Electrify the last few miles of track into Hull. I don’t like this as electrifying stations can be tricky and getting power might be difficult!
  • Electrify between Temple Hirst Junction and Selby station and whilst this is done, build a solution to the problem of the swing bridge. Power for the electrification can be taken from the East Coast Main Line.

I’m sure a compromise between train battery size and electrification can be found, that creates a solution, that is acceptable to the accountants.

Conclusion

I think it could be possible, that LNER could use a fleet of all-electric and battery-electric AT-300 trains.

 

 

 

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains Have Battery Operation?

I believe it is very likely, that High Speed Two’s new classic-compatible trains will have battery capabilities.

  • Batteries would handle energy generated by regenerative braking.
  • Batteries would give a train recovery capability in case of overhead catenary failure.
  • Batteries would be used for depot movements.
  • Batteries would probably improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

Effectively, the batteries would power the train and would be topped-up by the electrification and the regenerative braking.

But would they be able to give the trains a route extension capability on lines without electrification?

Consider.

  • Battery technology is getting better with energy capacity per kilogram increasing.
  • Batteries will be full, when the train leaves the electrification.
  • These trains will be as light as possible.
  • Trains will not be running at speeds in excess of perhaps 100 mph without electrification.
  • Fast charging can be provided at station stops.

I think, that trains could be able to do at least 40 to 50 miles on a full charge.

Fast Charging Technology

The most promising fast-charging technology is Vivarail’s system of using a length of conventional third-rail connected to a bank of batteries. When the train connects with the third-rail, electricity flows to the batteries on the train.

There are also others working on systems that use short lengths of overhead electrification.

Both systems can be totally automatic and safe.

Example Routes

These are three possible example routes.

Aberdeen And Edinburgh

These are the distances between stops on the route between Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

  • Aberdeen and Stonehaven – 12 miles
  • Stonehaven and Montrose – 24 miles
  • Montrose and Arbroath – 14 miles
  • Arbroath and Dundee – 17 miles
  • Dundee and Leuchars – 8 miles
  • Leuchars and Kirkaldy – 25 miles
  • Kirkcaldy and Inverkeithing – 13 miles
  • Inverkeithing and Edinburgh – 13 miles

It is a total of 130 miles without electrification.

The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

Inverness And Edinburgh

These are the distances between stops on the route between Inverness and Strirling.

  • Inverness and Aciemore- 35 miles
  • Aviemore and Kingussie – 12 miles
  • Kingussie and Pitlochry – 43 miles
  • Pitlochry and Perth – 30 miles
  • Perth and Gleneagles – 15 miles
  • Gleneagles and Stirling – 17 miles

It is a total of 152 miles without electrification.

As there are some steep gradients, there may be a need for some electrification in certain sections of the route.

Holyhead And Crewe

These are the distances between stops on the route between Holyhead and Crewe

  • Holyhead and Bangor – 25 miles.
  • Bangor and Llandudno Junction – 16 miles
  • Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay – 4 miles
  • Colwyn Bay and Rhyl – 10 miles
  • Rhyl and Prestatyn – 4 miles
  • Prestatyn and Flint – 14 miles
  • Flint and Chester – 13 miles
  • Chester and Crewe – 21 miles

It is a total of 105 miles without electrification.

The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

A Stepping-Stone Approach

I believe there is a design of fast charger, that in say a three minute stop can charge the battery sufficient to get to the next station. The electrification might continue for perhaps a couple of hundred metres from the station on the tracks where the trains are accelerating.

A train making a stop at a station would do the following.

  • As it approaches the stop, the train’s kinetic energy is turned into electricity by the regenerative braking.
  • This energy is stored in the batteries.
  • In the station, the batteries are charged from the fast charger or electrification.
  • Whilst stopped, the batteries provide the power for the train’s systems.
  • Accelerating away would use the batteries or electrification if it is installed.

The train’s computer would monitor the batteries and control the various power systems and sources to run the train in the most efficient manner.

This sequence would be repeated at each stop as the train progressed to its destination.

Extra Electrification

In the section on the challenging Edinburgh and Inverness route, I said that some gradients would probably need to be electrified to maintain progress.

But there are other sections, where electrification has been suggested.

  • Stirling and Perth
  • Crewe and Chester

So could we be seeing a mixture of electrification and charging stations on routes to allow electric trains to serve routes, where full electrification is impossible for practical, scenic, heritage or cost reasons?

The South Wales Metro is to use discontinuous electrification to save the cost of rebuilding innumerable bridges.

Conclusion

I believe that engineers can design high speed trains, that will be able to run on existing lines using battery power to serve the remoter parts of Great Britain.

February 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 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

Promoting The Highland Main Line

On Wednesday, the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership were in Kings Cross station promoting the Highland Main Line as a tourism destination.

I very much agree with the Partnership’s objective of encouraging more visitorsto the Scottish Highlands.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership Web Site

The Partnership were giving out an excellent brochure brochure which documents the wide range of attractions along the line between Perth and Inverness.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership web site has an on-line copy of the brochure.

The web site is also a valuable resource about the line and the area.

An Improving Domestic Rail Service

There is an approximately two-hourly service between Perth and Inverness and it is planned that this will be improved in the next couple of years.

  • Reducing journey times is an objective.
  • An hourly service is also an objective.
  • Inter7City trains, which are shortened, refurbished and modernised InterCity 125 trains will be introduced.

This service will enable visitors to base themselves close to one of the stations along the line and use the trains to visit other places.

Azumas To Inverness

LNER currently run InterCity 125 trains between London and Inverness

  • There is a single service each day in both directions.
  • The Northbound train leaves London at midday.
  • The Southbound train leaves Inverness just before eight in the morning.
  • The journey currently takes around eight hours.
  • The trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.

The service needs two trains to run one train per day in both directions.

LNER have just launched the new Class 800 trains, which they are marketing as Azumas.

My observations show that Azumas could save between thirty and sixty minutes on the trip.

The following improvements will all help.

  • Improvements to the Highland Main Line.
  • Steo-free access between train and platform at all stations.
  • Faster acceleration and deceleration at all stops.
  • Electrification to Stirling and possibly as far as Perth.
  • As digital signalling is introduced South of Edinburgh, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible.

Many of these improvements are currently planned and most will be completed by 2024.

This video was one I made travelling in the cab of an InterCity 125.

Will LNER invite to take one from an Azuma?

The Possibility Of Extra Services

The journey time between London and Inverness will surely get shorter in the next few years.

If say it was seven hours, then allowing an hour for cleaning, loading supplies and refuelling in Inverness would mean that a round trip from London would take fifteen hours.

  • A train leaving Kings Cross station at 07:00 would arrive in Inverness at 14:00.
  • The return journey would leave at 15:00 and be in London by 22:00.
  • A second service could start in Inverness and mirror the service starting in London.

The service would need two trains.

So it appears that by saving time on the journey, the possibility of extra services is opened up.

The Improved Sleeper Service

I have taken the current Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and it is a spectacular ride through the Highlands in the early morning.

But the elderly trains are being replaced and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more passengers decide to  use the sleeper to the Highlands.

Over the last few years, the Austrians, the Swedes and the Scots have all ordered new rolling stock for their sleeper trains and I believe that we’ll see a revival in this form of transport, throughout Europe.

A Caithness To Edinburgh Sleeper

This has been proposed and I wrote about it in Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that not next year, but once Scotland’s rail system is fully developed, with the shortened Inter-City 125s serving the longer routes and electric trains all over the Central Belt, that a Sleeper Train between Edinburgh and Thurso will be viable.

The proposed increase in capacity between London and Edinburgh, probably adds to the viability.

Sleeper One Way And Azuma The Other

I can see this becoming a popular way to visit Scotland.

  • It will be new trains both ways.
  • Both trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.
  • The price of a sleeper ticket compares well with the cost of a reasonable hotel.

The combinations are many and varied.

Cycling

Cycling holidays seem to be increasing everywhere and Scotland is no exception.

On the West Highland Line between Gl;asgow and Oban, passengers with cycles are increasing in number, so Scotrail are converting redundant Class 153 trains into multi-purpose carriages to add capacity to the trains.

On the Highland Main Line, for those, who want to explore the area on their bicycles, the Inter7City trains should be able to provide enough space for bicycles in the back of the two Class 43 locomotives.

Conclusion

The more I look at the Highland Main Line, the more I think it has a rosy future.

All it needs to seal its future is a visit from Michael Portillo and his camera crew.

 

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

London To Thurso Direct

According to Edition 863 of Rail Magazine, LNER are thinking of doing a demonstration run on this route to show off their new trains.

But is it such a daft idea?

In Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh, I talked about a plan to operate a sleeper service on the route between Edinburgh and Thurso, which currently takes nine hours.

This journey time is definitely territory for those rail enthusiasts, who ride across America, Australia, Europe and Russia, but it is not for me.

But doing the route in day-long segments with a stop in a good hotel, in say Edinburgh and Inverness could open up an iconic tourism route to the Orkney Islands for an increasing number of intrepid travellers, many of whom, like me are past retirement age.

Travel on the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and you meet lots of foreign tourists from all over the globe.

On all days except Saturday, there are two services between Inverness and London; a day train to and from Kings Cross and a sleeper to and from Euston.

To go North on Day 1, you take eight hours on a direct train to Inverness, with after an overnight rest, you take four hours to Thurso.

Route Proving For The New Class 800 Trains

So if nothing else it is route proving for Class 800 trains on the service between Kings Cross and Inverness, which because it serves so many places on the Highland Main Line, is an important route to the area.

From the current schedule, it looks like the train will take twelve hours, so there will surely be a lot of driver training possibilities.

It surely, will be a good marketing exercise.

Highland Main Line Improvements

This archived document was produced by Transport Scotland.

This is the first paragraph.

Upgrading the Highland Main Line is one of the Scottish Government’s key priorities. The long-term goal of the project seeks to achieve a fastest journey time of 2 hours 45 minutes between Inverness and the Central Belt with an average journey time of 3 hours and an hourly service by 2025.

A time of three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness could be possible with electrification to Perth.

Far North Line Improvements

The Far North Line between Inverness and Thurso doesn’t appear to be built for speed, as it takes a train about four hours to do the journey.

  • It is 167 miles from Inverness to Thurso.
  • It is mainly single-track with passing places.
  • There are twelve services on the line most days, with fewer on Sundays.

It should also be said, that Caledonian Sleeper are thinking of running a service between Thurso and Edinburgh and/or Glasgow, as I reported in

In the Wikipedia entry for the Far North Line, there is a section called Future Expansion, where this is said.

For many years there have been proposals to bypass the Lairg loop[note  with a line across the Dornoch Firth, linking Tain (via Dornoch, more directly with Golspie. British Rail attempted to get funding for this when the road bridge was built, but the government declined.

Now this project would involve building a new bridge over the Firth, or making dual-purpose the bridge which now carries just the A9. Discussions have been held concerning the shortening of the Far North Line involving a bridge over the Dornoch Firth and the possible use of the trackbed of the former light railway. Nothing has yet come of these ideas.

If an hour could be knocked off the journey time, I suspect it would be very beneficial, to both the local population and visitors.

What Time Could Be Achieved?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the time between London and Inverness reduced by the Class 800 trains in a couple of years, as the new trains will be able to use electricity South of Stirling and possibly Perth.

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and better signalling on the East Coast Main Line, I could see a time between London and Inverness of under seven hours.

This would enable a civilised departure from London at say eight in the morning and still be in your castle, hotel or holiday cottage in time for dinner and a wee dram or several.

If improvements were made to the Far North Line, it might be possible to go from London to Thurso in ten hours.

Could The Class 800 Train Continue To Thurso?

A Class 800 train could continue to Thurso and LNER’s test run will probably prove whether it can or not!

It could arrive in Thurso, in time for the evening ferry to the Orkneys.

I think though, that the London service would not be extended to Thurso.

  • The train would have to be fully-replenished at Thurso for the trip South.
  • A nine-car train needed between London and Inverness would be too much capacity for the Inverness to Thurso section.
  • The current Inverness to London service starts at eight in the morning and passengers wouldn’t be happy to leave Thurso at three to go straight through to London.

But I can see the reduced journey time between London and Inverness attracting more passengers to the route.

Enter The Shortened High Speed Train

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled ScotRail HSTs Enter Traffic On October 15.

This is the second paragraph.

Branded Inter7City as they will serve Scotland’s seven cities, the refurbished HST will run initially between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. More routes will follow as more sets arrive from refurbishment.

It also says that the refurbished HSTs will offer.

  • More seats,
  • Increased luggage space.
  • At seat power sockets.
  • Hospitality.

I would also expect wi-fi, comfortable seats, tables and big windows.

With their four or five Mark 3 coaches and two Class 43 power cars each with a diesel engine of around 2,200 bhp, these trains must have superb acceleration.

I estimate that a fully loaded four-car train carrying 250 passengers, will weigh about three hundred tonnes. This gives a power to weight ratio of 11.2 kW/tonne

By comparison, the the original 2+8 sets of the InterCity 125s have a power to weight ratio of 7.3 kW/tonne.

I will also add some other power to weight ratios.

  • New Routemaster bus weighing twenty tonnes with 137 kW – 6.85 kW/tonne.
  • Hummer H2 weighing 2.9 tonnes with 293 kW – 101 kW/tonne.
  • Mini One weighing 1.2 tonnes with 75 kW – 62.5 kW/tonne

Incidentally, my Lotus Elan weighed about 1050 Kg when I was driving and had power of 121 kW. This gives a power to weight ration of 115 kW/tonne.

In Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, I described a memorable ride.

One thing I  noticed, was that the driver controlled the two engines with considerable precision, to make sure, the train was on time on what must be a challenging route, as it climbed, descended and twisted through the Highlands.

With the same amount of power in a train only half the length and weight, I suspect these trains could save time effortlessly, as a good driver in a sports car can on a twisting road.

Also, don’t underestimate the contribution, the replacement of the 1970s-style slam-doors with modern powered units, will contribute at every stop.

I looked at the actual times yesterday of the 12:00 between Kings Cross and Inverness and compared to my journey in the cab, there are less stops. So services are being speeded up and I suspect ScotRail’s trains stop more often.

Transport Scotland talked about a fastest time of two hour forty-five minutes between the Central Belt and Inverness.

When the route between Inverness and Perth has been fully modernised with passing loops, I have a feeling that times will be faster.

They will not only be an iconic forty-year-old train, but a tourist attraction in their own right, like Scottish mountains, tartan food and whisky.

Get Up In London And Go To Bed In The Orkneys

If LNER have an objective in testing London to Thurso with a Class 800 train,, it must be finding a civilised way, to be able to get between London and the Orkneys, by train and ship in both directions within a single day.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh leaves just after 06:00.
  • There has been an aim to run services between the two capitals in under four hours for as long as I can remember.
  • Modern in-cab signalling is being rolled out on the East Coast Main Line to enable 140 mph running.
  • The last ferry to the Orkneys leaves from Scrabster near Thurso at 19:00

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and electrification to Perth, three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness should be possible in a Class 800 train or a well-driven shortened HST.

This would give LNER options to get to Inverness at a reasonable hour of the day.

Run An Early Train From London To Inverness

This could be timed to leave London at 06:00 and it could be in Inverness at 13:00.

This would give a fast train on the Far North Line six hours, including transfer to move passengers between Inverness and Scrabster.

It looks that ScotRail have the train for the job, in the shape of the shortened HST.

They could also serve an early Scottish dinner, to prepare tourists, for what could be a breezy crossing.

Run A Pair Of Class 800 trains To Both Aberdeen And Inverness

LNER’s Class 800 trains come in two sizes; five-cars and nine-cars.

Two five-cars can run as a ten-car train, that can split and join as required, in under two minutes in a suitable station.

So could we see a pair of five-car Class 800 trains leave Kings Cross and run together to Edinburgh, where one train went to Dundee, Montrose, Stonehaven and Aberdeen and the other went to Stirling, Perth and Inverness.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Aberdeen leaves at 07:00 in the morning.
  • The journey takes six hours.
  • There are three trains per day between London and Aberdeen.
  • The last direct train that is not a sleeper service leaves just before 15:00.
  • As with the route to Inverness, the route to Aberdeen is not electrified.

I think this option has advantages

There would be an early morning service to Edinburgh and many of the large towns and cities in Eastern Scotland.

The service only uses one path on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh.

If traffic patterns and passenger numbers are favourable, other Aberdeen services could split and join.

Running a five-car train to Inverness earlier in the day, before the main train of the day, may be a way to provide an economic service to Thurso.

  • A five-car train would probably be more affordable to run.
  • The train would be stabled at Thurso overnight.
  • It would leave for Inverness, Edinburgh and london about 10:00.
  • At Edinburgh, it could join up with an Aberdeen train at around 16:00.

Time-tabled properly, it could result in Inverness and Aberdeen getting an extra train to and from London every day.

Change At Edinburgh

Plans by various rail companies for services include.

  • LNER will continue to run two trains per hour (tph) between Edinburgh and England.
  • LNER would like to run services between London and Edinburgh in under four hours.
  • TransPennine Express will run more services to Edinburgh.
  • ScotRail will run hourly services between the seven major cities in Scotland.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness and Inverness to Thurso should both to become three hour journeys.

Edinburgh will become a very well-connected city.

If Edinburgh to Thurso could be achieved  in six hours, then any service leaving Edinburgh after about 14:00 would catch the last ferry at Scrabster for the Orkneys.

When trains between London and Edinburgh, are regularly achieving the four-hour journey, there will be several trains, that will give a change in Edinburgh suitable for passengers individual preferences.

A single change at Edinburgh could be the preferable route for many.

Conclusion

Because LNER, ScotRail and other train companies now have a large fleet of very capable trains on order, there are several possibilities to create a world-class train service to connect Scotland fully both internally on the mainland and to important destinations in the islands and England.

The renaissance of the HST as a train to provide high-quality services has been astounding.

  • ScotRail are creating twenty-six shortened HSTs for use within Scotland.
  • GWR are creating eleven similar trains for use between Penzance and Cardiff.

I would be very surprised, if more HSTs are not refurbished to modern standards.

Germany may have the Volkwagen Beetle, but we have the High Speed Train.

Could we see them on the following routes?

  • Oxford and Cambridge
  • Waterloo and Exeter
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Some Cross-Country services

There’s probably enough power-cars and coaches to make another fifty shortened HSTs, so if ScotRail’s trains are a success, I suspect we’ll see some imitation.

I suspect too, that just as engineers have found solutions to the problems in the coaches like the doors and the toilets, they will find a solution, that replaces the diesel engine in each power with some form of more eco-friendly hybrid power pack.

Consider.

  • MTU, which is a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, are developing hybrid power packs for diesel multiple units.
  • There is a lot of space in the engine compartment of the power car.
  • On most routes, 90-100 mph running will be sufficient.

Hitachi converted a power-car to work in this way ten years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment