The Anonymous Widower

Rail Operations Seeks New Sites To Extend Storage Space

The title of this post, as the same as that of this article in Issue 869 of Rail Magazine.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Rail operations (UK) Limited is looking to lease more sites for storing off-lease trains.

Via ita Traxion business, the company has already leased Crewe South Yard and the Marks & Sencer Logistics site at Castle Donington.

Much of the rest of the article is an interview with Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive of Rail Operations (UK) Limited, where he outlines the train storage market. He appears to be a man, who builds a strategy around facts and then pounces.

To do this he would need to have.

  • Good advisers, with excellent knowledge of and contacts in the UK Rail and European rail industry.
  • Reliable financial backing.
  • The ability to give a good story to the media.

It appears, Karl could have used similar tactics, when he commissioned ten Class 93 locomotives from Stadler, that I wrote about in Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive.

He puts forward some firm views and facts.

  • 4,000 vehicles are coming off-lease.
  • 46-47 miles of track will be needed.
  • 313s, 314s and 315s will be scrapped.
  • 317s, 319s, 321s and 442s will be re-engineered.

The customer gets what they want with appropriate servicing and maintenance.

 

 

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poetic Return For The Night Train In The Era Of ECommerce

The title of this post is the same as that of a half-page article on Page 34 of the Business Section of today’s copy pf The Times.

As you can see The Times gave it the full treatment with stills from the classic documentary film;  The Night Mail, which has a verse commentary written by W. H. Auden.

It’s an idea from the seemingly irrepressible  Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive of Rail Operations (UK) Limited.

He plans to start test operations with two Class 769 trains leased from Porterbrook.

I wrote about this concept two years ago, in The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT).

January 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I looked at an electro-diesel freight locomotive with batteries instead of a diesel engine, as a freight locomotive. It would have the size and weight of a Class 70 locomotive and perhaps use similar technology to Stadler’s Class 88 locomotive.

I concluded the article like this.

It would be a heavyweight locomotive with a performance to match.

I believe that such a locomotive would be a very useful addition to the UK’s fleet of freight locomotives.

Stadler have not produced a battery/electric replacement for a Class 66 locomotive, but they have added a diesel/electric/battery Class 93 locomotive with a heavyweight performance to their Class 68/88 or UKLIGHT family of locomotives built at Valencia in Spain.

Details of the locomotive are given in this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Rail Operations Fuels Its Ambitions With Tri-Mode Class 93s. There is also a longerand more detailed  article in the print edition of the magazine, which I purchased today.

Reading both copies of the article, I can say the following.

A More Powerful Class 88 Locomotive

At a first glance, the Class 93 locomotive appears to be a more powerful version of the Class 88 locomotive.

  • The power on electric mode is the same in both locomotives at four megawatt. It would probably use the same electrical systems.
  • Some reports give the diesel power of the Class 93 locomotive as 1.34 MW as opposed to 0.7 MW of the Class 88 locomotive.
  • The Class 93 locomotive has a top speed of 110 mph, as opposed to the 100 mph of the Class 88 locomotive.
  • The article says, “It’s an ’88’ design with the biggest engine we could fit.”

It would also appear that much of the design of the two locomotives is identical, which must make design, building and certification easier.

The Class 93 Locomotive Is Described As A Hybrid Locomotive

Much of the article is an interview with Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive Officer of Rail Operations (UK) Ltd, who have ordered ten Class 93 locomotives. He says this.

However, the Swiss manufacturer offered a solution involving involving an uprated diesel alternator set plus Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries.

Other information on the batteries includes.

  • The batteries are used in regenerative braking.
  • Batteries can be charged by the alternator or the pantoraph.
  • Each locomotive has two batteries slightly bigger than a large suitcase.

Nothing is said about the capacity of the batteries, but each could be a cubic metre in size.

I have looked up manufacturers of lithium-titanate batteries and there is a Swiss manufacturer of the batteries called Leclanche, which has this helpful page that compares various batteries.

  • The page gives an energy density of 120-200 Wh/Kg for their traditional lithium-ion batteries and 70-80 Wh/Kg for LTO batteries.
  • But it gives LTO batteries a five-star rating, for charge power, discharge power and energy efficiency.

Leclanche also have a product called a TiRack63, which is intended for industrial applications, such as.

  • ,Grid stabilization in on-grid application
  • Providing short term power to cover the first seconds in a grid failure incident to industrial users.
  • Managing the integration of renewable energy (solar and wind) into off grid applications with diesel generators (e.g. mining),

The battery has the following characteristics.

  • 15000 charge/discharge cycles
  • 100 % depth of discharge.
  • Charging and discharging at 300 Amps.
  • Modular setup.
  • 510-810 VDC output.
  • 63 kWh capacity.
  • Size of 2300 x 1800 x 600 mm
  • Weight of 1800 Kg.

These batteries with their fast charge and discharge are almost like supercapacitors.

, It would appear that, if these batteries are used the Class 93 locomotive will have an energy storage capacity of 126 kWh.

But this is said about Class 93 locomotive performance..

LTO batteries were chosen because they offer a rapid recharge and can maintain line speed while climbing a gradient, and will recharge when running downhill.

Looking at the batteries, they could provide up to around 240 kW of extra power for perhaps half an hour to help the train climb a gradient and then recharge using regenerative braking or the diesel alternator.

This is a hybrid vehicle, with all the efficiency advantages.

The article does say, that with a light load, the locomotives can do 110 mph on hybrid. Nothing is said about what is a light load. Could it be a rake of five modern Mark 5A coaches?

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this.

It is worth looking at the kinetic energy of a Class 88 locomotive hauling five forty-three tonne CAF Mark 5A coaches containing a full load of 340 passengers, who each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies. This gives a total weight would be 331.7 tonnes.

The kinetic energy of the train would be as follows for various speeds.

90 mph – 75 kWh
100 mph – 92 kWh
110 mph – 111 kWh
125 mph – 144 kWh

The increase in energy is because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

There would be little difference in this calculation, using a Class 93 locomotive, which is only a tonne heavier. The kinetic energy at 110 mph, would be 112 kWh.

This could be very convenient, as it looks like the battery capacity could be larger than the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded train.

Similar Weight And Axle Load To A Class 88 Locomotive

The article states that the locomotive will weight 87 tonnes, as opposed to the 86 tonnes of a Class 88 locomotive.

As both locomotives have four axles, this would mean that their axle loading is almost the same.

So anywhere the Class 88 locomotive can go, is most likely to be territory suitable for the Class 93 locomotive.

Again, this must make certification easier.

A Modular Design

In a rail forum, members were saying that the Class 93 locomotive has a modular design.

So will we see other specifications with different sized diesel engines and batteries?

The TransPennine routes, for example, might need a locomotive with a smaller diesel engine, more battery capacity and a 125 mph-capability for the East Coast Main Line.

Stadler have said they specialise in niche markets. Have they developed the tailor-made locomotive?

Power Of Various Locomotives

These are various UK locomotives and their power levels in megawatts.

  • Class 43 – Diesel – 1.7
  • Class 66 – Diesel – 2.4
  • Class 67 – Diesel – 2.4
  • Class 68 – Diesel – 2.8
  • Class 88 – Electric – 4
  • Class 88 – Diesel – 0.7
  • Class 90 – Electric – 3.9
  • Class 91 – Electric – 4.8
  • Class 93 – Electric – 4
  • Class 93 – Diesel – 1.3

The interesting figure, is that the Class 93 locomotive has 76 % of the diesel power of a Class 43 locomotive from an InterCity 125. The difference could probably be made up using battery power, where needed.

Could The Locomotive Be Uprated To 125 mph?

Consider.

  • The UK has successfully run 125 mph Class 43 and 91 locomotives for many years.
  • Stadler has built trains that run at that speed.
  • Mark 3, Mark 4 and Mark 5A coaches are all certified for 125 mph.
  • There are hundreds of miles of track in the UK, where 125 mph running is possible.

I would think it very unlikely, that the engineers designing the Class 93 locomotive, ruled out the possibility of 125 mph running in the future!

Only Stadler will know!

Could A Battery/Electric Version Of The Locomotive Be Created?

I don’t see why not!

The diesel engine, fuel, exhaust and cooling systems and some ancilliary systems could all be removed and be replaced with an equivalent weight of batteries.

As the C27 diesel engine in a Class 88 locomotive weighs almost seven tonnes, I suspect a ten tonne battery would be possible.

Given the current typical energy density and using the Leclanche figures, this would mean that thr batteries would have a total capacity of around 700-800 kWh.

Possible Uses Of The Class 93 Locomotive

The Rail Magazine article goes on to detail some of the uses of a Class 93 locomotive.

Express Freight

Karl Watts says this.

They can operate express freight. In Europe, there are vehicles capable of 100 mph running, and these are perfect for high-speed domestic freight. We have been running intermodals at 75 mph since the 1960s – It’s time to change that.

The locomotive would certainly be able to haul express freight at 100 mph on an electrified main line.

Note the following.

  1. This would greatly help with freight between Felixstowe and London on the 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line.
  2. Running freight trains at 100 mph on the major electrified lines would increase capacity, of the lines.
  3. Ports and freight terminals wouldn’t need to be electrified.

Overall, the proportion of freight mileage, where electric power was used, would grow significantly.

Electrification Gap Jumping

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I gave a list of typical gaps in the electrification in the UK.

  • Didcot and Birmingham – Around two-and-a-half hours
  • Didcot and Coventry – Just under two hours
  • Felixstowe and Ipswich – Around an hour
  • Haughley Junction and Peterborough – Around two hours
  • Southampton and Reading – Around one-and-a-half hours
  • Werrington Junction and Doncaster via Lincoln – Around two hours
  • Werrington Junction and Nuneaton – Just under two hours

How many of these gaps could be bridged by a Class 93 locomotive working in a diesel hybrid mode?

It should be noted, that many of the busiest gaps are in the flatter Eastern areas of England.

I’m sure Stadler and Rail Operations Group have done extensive simulation of possible routes and know where the locomotives are best suited.

Class 66 Locomotive Replacement

I suspect that several of these locomotives will end up replacing duties currently done by Class 66 locomotives.

It could haul an intermodal freight from Felixstowe to Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow or Doncaster, using electrification where it exists.

And do it at a speed of 100 mph, where speed limits allow!

No other locomotive on the UK network could do that!

Use On Electrified Urban Freight Routes

Near to where I live there are two electrified lines passing through North London; the North London Line and the Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

Both lines have several freight trains a day passing through, that are still hauled by diesel locomotives.

There are other urban freight routes around the UK, where despite electrification, polluting diesel locomotives are still used.

Class 93 locomotives would be an ideal environmentally-friendly replacement locomotive on these routes.

Thunderbird Duties

Karl Watts says this.

They can be used for network recovery as a more comprehensive Thunderbird. Currently, stand-by locomotives are hired or used by an operator to rescue its own trains, but these would be available for anything or anyone. I have sopken to Network Rail about this and they need convincing. But as the network gets busier, so it will be that one failure causes chaos.

Perhaps, a better method for recovering failed trains could be developed.

Passenger Trains

Karl Watts says this.

I can say that the 93s’ feature n two franchise bids, although I cannot say which, due to non-disclosure agreements.

We can only speculate!

Class 93 locomotives could replace the Class 68 locomotives on TransPennine Express services between Liverpool and Scarborough, where Mark 5A coaches will be used.

  • Electric mode could be used between Liverpool and Stalybridge and on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Diesel or hybrid mode would be used where needed.
  • If the locomotives could be uprated to 125 mph, that would help on the East Coast Main Line.

There are certainly, redundant Mark 4 coaches or new Mark 5A coaches that could be used to provide services.

An InterCity 125 For the Twenty-First Century

The InterCity 125 is a masterpiece of engineering, that passengers love.

One of the reasons for the success, is the superb dynamics of the train, which gives them a very comfortable ride.

Could it be that by putting two Class 93 locomotives at each end of a rake of suitable coaches could create a 125 mph train, with the same faultless dynamics?

The answer is probably yes, but in many cases either half-length trains or bi-mode multiple units may be a more affordable or capable train.

The locomotive certainly gives a lot of flexibility.

Conclusion

This is going to be a very useful locomotive.

This was the last paragraph of the printed article, as spoken by Karl Watts.

I don’t think I will be ordering only ten or 20 – there will be more.

I have registered 93001 to 93050.

The word hybrid opens the door.

I think this might be the third member of a very large and widespread family.

 

 

 

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments