The Anonymous Widower

Between Liverpool Lime Street And Chester Stations

Currently, using Merseyrail‘s Wirral Line, a journey between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations takes around forty-five minutes.

This time will improve by several minutes, when the new Class 777 trains come into service in a couple of years.

In Slow Trains Outside The South-East, I calculated that this time could be as low as 35 minutes.

Using The Halton Curve

But how fast could a train go between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations, using the Halton Curve, when that comes into use in December 2018?

Consider.

  • West Midlands Trains take nineteen minutes to go between Liverpool Lime Street and Runcorn stations with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • The current parliamentary train takes twenty-one minutes between Chester and Runcorn stations using the Halton Curve.
  • Transport for Wales will run the route with their new 100 mph CAF trains.

It should be possible for the direct trains to do the trip between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester in under forty minutes, with stops at Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby stations.

As to the frequency of the service between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations via the Halton Curve, under Improvements in the Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales, these services are listed.

  • Introduction of a new hourly Liverpool to Chester service from December 2018
  • Introduction of a new hourly Liverpool to Llandudno and Shrewsbury service from December 2022
  • Introduction of a new two-hourly Liverpool to Cardiff service from December 2022

So it looks like there will be at least a train every half-hour between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester.

Liverpool Airport

One advantage of using the Halton Curve, is that as trains can call at Liverpool South Parkway station, it would be possible to provide a direct link to Liverpool Airport.

Merseyrail are looking into the possibility of using tram-trains on this route.

Direct Services Between Liverpool Lime Street And North Wales

Consider.

  • Virgin Trains take forty-eight minutes between Chester and Llandudno Junction stations.
  • Virgin Trains take ninety-nine minutes between Chester and Holyhead stations.
  • Currently, Liverpool to Llandudno takes between 110-120 minutes with a change at Chester station.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see timings of direct trains between Llandudno and Liverpool Lime Street stations in the order of an hour-and-a half.

Electrification

Electrification is the big question, hanging over railways in this area.

Merseyrail already runs electrified services to Chester on the Wirral Line and the following routes have been earmarked for electrification.

  • Chester to Crewe
  • Chester to Manchester

If the latter were to be electrified, then only the relatively short Halton Curve would need to be electrified to create another all-electric route between Liverpool and Chester.

Bi-Mode Trains For KeolisAmey Wales

If Chester station, were to be electrified, this will have possible consequences for KeolisAmey Wales, as all their services Eastwards from Chester to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester would be running on fully-electrified routes.

So will KeolisAmey Wales order some  of new CAF trains with a bi-mode capability.

This capability could also be useful in South Wales.

 

 

July 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Blaenau Ffestiniog Station

Blaenau Ffestiniog station is the interchange between the Conwy Valley Line and the Ffestiniog Railway.

Note that as my train arrived from Llandudno, there was a Ffestiniog Railway train to take travellers to Porthmadog.

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales under Improvements.

Invest to co-fund new station buildings at Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The Conwy Valley Line is scheduled to be run by new Class 230 trains from mid-2019.
  • According to Wikipedia, there have been steam workings up the Conwy Valley Line.
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a run-around loop to put a locomotive on the other end of a train.
  • The Halton Curve will open in December 2018, allowing direct and faster trains between Liverpool and Llandudno.

It would appear Transport for Wales are pulling out all the stops to bring tourists and employment to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Battery Trains Are Coming

Every month seems to bring more information about trains where batteries are an important part of the propulsion system of the train.

So what are the various manufacturers offering?

Alstom

Alstom’s Coradia iLint train is hydrogen powered and as this video shows, batteries are an important part of the design of the train, which can probably be considered a hydrogen/battery hybrid train.

As I wrote in Germany Approves Alstom’s Hydrogen Train For Passenger Service, these trains will be entering service in late summer in Germany.

In the UK, Alstom are to convert some of the hundred-plus fleet of Class 321 trains, to running on hydrogen power.

I set out my thoughts on this in Thoughts On A Hydrogen-Powered Class 321 Train.

These were my conclusions.

  • The Class 321 train will make a good hydrogen-powered train.
  • Alstom would not have looked at converting a thirty-year-old train to hydrogen power, if they thought it would be less than good.
  • British Rail’s design of a 750 VDC bus makes a lot of the engineering easier and enables the train to be tailored for world-wide markets, with different electrification systems and voltages.
  • Having two different hydrogen-powered trains will give Alstom a better place in an emerging market.

I suspect in a few years time, if these two hydrogen projects are successful, Alstom will design and manufacture, a whole family of hydrogen-powered trains, with different gauges, capacities and operating speeds.

Bombardier

Unlike Alstom, who seem to be telling the world what they are doing with hybrid hydrogen/battery trains, Bombardier are playing their cards close to their chest.

In early 2015, I rode on Bombardier’s Class 379 Battery-Electric Multiple Unit demonstrator between Manningtree and Harwich.

It destroyed my scepticism about battery-electric trains.

Since then, the following has happened.

Class 345 Trains Have Entered Service

Class 345 trains have entered service on Crossrail routes to the East and West of London.

Until denied by Bombardier, I believe that these trains from Bombardier’s new   Aventra family use batteries for the following purposes.

  • Storing and reuseing the energy generated by regenerative braking.
  • Providing an emergency power source, should the main electricity supply fail.
  • Allowing depots and stabling sidings without electrification.

The trains should also make Crossrail and the other routes on which they run, more electrically efficient.

Five More Fleets Of Aventras

Bombardier have sold five more fleets of Aventras.

Could electrical efficiency because of clever use of batteries be a reason?

A 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries Has Been Launched

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra Could Feature Battery Power.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I analyse the train in detail.

This was my conclusion.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train, a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficient.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

My calculation might be wrong, but it’s in the right area.

Voyager Battery Upgrade

This use of batteries by Bombardier was a total surprise.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

A lot of the article takes the form of reporting an interview with Des McKeon, who is Bombardier’s Commercial |Director and Global Head of Regional and Intercity.

This is a paragraph.

He also confirmed Bombardier is examining the option of fitting batteries to Voyager DEMUs for use in stations.

I discuss what Bombardier might be doing in Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?.

I feel the simplest use for batteries on these trains would be to store the energy generated by regenerative braking in batteries, from where it would be used for the train’s hotel power!

This would reduce the need for the engines to be running in stations.

Conclusion

I think Bombardier have been thinking very hard about how you design a train with batteries.

CAF

CAF have fitted several of their trams with batteries and this system will be used on the Midland Metro, to create new routes without catenary.

But they only seem to have an on-off order for trains fitted with batteries for Auckland.in New Zealand.

The order seems to be on hold.

Given that CAF, have a reputation for research and development and they have used batteries in trams, I can’t believe that they are not looking seriously at how to use batteries in their train designs.

Hitachi

On page 79 of the January 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, Nick Hughes, who is the Sales Director of Hitachi Rail Europe outlines how the manufacturer is embracing the development of battery technology.

He is remarkably open.

I wrote Hitachi’s Thoughts On Battery Trains, after reading what he said.

Hitachi certainly have working battery trains in Japan and use batteries on Class 800 trains to capture the energy generated by regenerative braking. On these trains, it appears to be used for hotel power.

Siemens

Siemens have now merged with Alstom and they are also developing a hydrogen-powered train.

I wrote about this train in Siemens Joins The Hydrogen-Powered Train Club.

As with Alstom, I suspect this train will be using batteries.

Siemens have also won the order for the New Tube For London.

I wrote about this in Thoughts On The New Tube For London.

In the Future Upgrades section of the Wikipedia entry for the Piccadilly Line, this is said.

Siemens publicised an outline design featuring air-conditioning and battery power to enable the train to run on to the next station if third and fourth rail power were lost. It would have a lower floor and 11% higher passenger capacity than the present tube stock. There would be a weight saving of 30 tonnes, and the trains would be 17% more energy-efficient with air-conditioning included, or 30% more energy-efficient without it

I would suspect, the batteries are also used to handle the energy from regenerative braking

Stadler

Stadler have developed a bi-mode Flirt, which has been ordered by Greater Anglia as the Class 755 train.

They have now sold a diesel/electric/battery tri-mode to KeolisAmey Wales, which from the visualisations look like the trains are closely related to the Class 755 trains.

Stadler are also delivering Class 777 trains to Merseyrail. Wikipedia says this.

In May 2018, it was announced the sixth Class 777 unit to be delivered will be fitted with batteries for a trial.

So it looks like two major fleets of trains for the UK from Stadler will have batteries.

There is also the Stadler Wink, which has been sold to Arriva Nederland.

Wikipedia says this about the design.

It has an aluminium carbody that can be customized in length by the customer, and can be powered by either diesel or electric powertrains with supplemental on board batteries. Arriva units will be delivered with Deutz diesel engines and batteries charged by regenerative braking; the engines are planned to be replaced by additional batteries once electrification is installed over part of their route.

Stadler seem to be putting a lot of effort into batteries.

Vivarail

Vivarail’s Class 230 train started as a diesel-electric and they have now sold a battery version to KeolisAmey Wales, which should be in service in May 2019.

Conclusion

All train manufacturers seem to be applying battery technology to their trains.

The main purpose seems to be to recycle the energy generated by regenerative braking.

Some trains like Alstom’s hydrogen trains, Bombardier’s Aventras and Stadler’s tri-mode Flirt, use the energy for traction, whilst others like Hitachi’s Class 800 trins, use the energy for hotel power.

If a researcher or company comes up with a better battery, they will certainly get a return for their efforts in the rail industry.

 

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

First D-Train With Transport for Wales In March 2019

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

This is the first paragraph.

The first Class 230 D-Train for Transport for Wales should be ready by March 2019, with all five in traffic from May 2019.

There are also other details.

The Train Formation

More details are given about the formation of the Class 230 trains.

  • The trains will be three cars.
  • The driving cars will have batteries.
  • The centre car will have four generators.

When the trains were D78 Stock on the London Underground, they ran as a six-car train formed of two half-trains containing.

  • DM – Driving Motor
  • T – Trailer
  • UNDM – Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor

The two UNDM cars were coupled together, to form the six-car train.

So is the formation of a Class 230 train as follows?

  • DM – Driving Motor with battery
  • T – Trailer with four generators
  • DM – Driving Motor with battery

I would suspect that the DM cars are identical.

Regenerative Braking

The trains will have regenerative braking, where the energy recovered will be stored in the batteries.

In the D78 Stock, the Trailer car wasn’t motored, so unless motors are fitted in this application, the two Driving Motor cars can almost be considered two identical battery locomotives with regenerative braking, that are solely responsible for moving the train.

The Trailer Car With Power

The Trailer Car in the middle of the train contains the four generators.

The Wikipedia entry for the Ford Duratorq engine, has a section for a 3.2 litre diesel engine, where this is said.

The 3.2 is an I5 engine used in the Ford Transit, the Ford Ranger, Ford Everest, Mazda BT-50 and the Vivarail D-Train.

The standard engine has a rating of 200 hp or 150 kW.

The Class 230 train would appear to have an installed power of 600 kW.

Interiors

The article says that everything the passenger will see inside the train is new!

Performance

This is a quote from Tristan Guyard of Transport for Wales.

On the Conwy Valley and Wrexham – Bidston routes, ‘230s’ will be quicker than most other new trains built in the UK at the moment. This is because of the high proportion of motored wheels and the use of batteries to provide additional power. When these trains come into service, we will be able to improve journey times and have a more flexible timetable as soon as 2019.

The Conwy Valley Line seems a stiff route, which might get a better service with a more powerful train.

The Wrexham-Bidston route currently takes 56 minutes to go South and 58 minutes to go North, which probably makes timetabling a half-hourly service a difficult job.

Will the Class 230 trains offer enough extra performance for these services?

Perhaps this is why they have four diesel power packs.

We will find out next year, what is the toughness of these remanufactured London Underground trains!

Thoughts On The Traction System

How Does The Power Compare To Other Trains?

How powerful is the 600 kW in the Class 230 train?

By comparison. a two-car Class 156 train, has 860 kW of diesel power.

On the other hand the three-car Class 230 train has regenerative braking using batteries.

Is The Class 230 Train A Serial Hybrid?

In a serial hybrid vehicle, a power source like a diesel engine charges the battery and the battery drives the vehicle and powers internal systems.

The classic serial hybrid vehicle is a New Routemaster bus, which is powered by a 138 kW diesel engine.

In this bus., the engine starts and stops to keep the energy in the battery within a particular range.

It is a very simple control system and is regularly used in many applications, where water or temperature levels are to be kept within range.

The layout of the Class 230 train with a central power car could easily provide power to the batteries in the two Driving cars.

The train’s control system would switch the engines on and off automatically as required.

If two diesel generators supplied the battery in each Driving Car, the train could even be considered a double serial hybrid.

So this should make the train reliable, as most components of the drive-train are duplicated.

Conclusion

I sometimes feel that the Class 230 train could end up as a heroic design failure.

But then the oldest trains in service on the UK’s rail network are the London Underground 1938 Stock on the Island Line.

London Underground rolling stock seems to have a longevity, that other trains seem to have been built without!

Or is it that as the elderly fleets of the Glasgow Subway, Merseyrail and the Northern City Line seem to keep soldiering on, that spending a large proportion of your working life underground, is good for trains?

 

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

KeolisAmey’s Plans For The Rhymney Line

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

The Rhymney Line has the following characteristics.

  • It runs between Cardiff Queen Street and Rhymney stations.
  • Most of the line is double-track, with a short length of single-track from Tir-Phil station.
  • There is the Coryton branch line to Coryton station.
  • From Cardiff to Bargoed station, there are four trains per hour (tph)
  • North of Bargoed, an hourly service generally operates.
  • \from Cardiff to Coryton station, there are two tph.
  • Some services, run through Cardiff to Penarth or Barry Island stations.
  • Services take sixty-one minutes between Rhymney and Cardiff.
  • Services take eighteen minutes between Coryton and Cardiff.

What improvements will be made to the Rhymney Line?

New Trains

From 2019, cascaded Class 170 trains will run services on the line.

In 2023, these trains will replaced by new Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts.

Current plans, don’t envisage any of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles working the line. But I don’t see any reason why they can’t, if say Transport for Wales wanted to run a service from Cardiff Bay to Coryton or any other station.

It could be that their batteries don’t have enough capacity for the Caerphilly Tunnel.

New Stations

The KeolisAmey document, states that a new station will be built at  Crwys Road.

I’ve also read somewhere that there may be a station on the Coryton Line to serve a major new hospital.

Improved Services

In 2023, the following services will be in place.

  • From Cardiff to Rhymney station, there will be four tph.
  • From Cardiff to Coryton station, there will be two tph.
  • Services will take forty-eight minutes between Rhymney and Cardiff.
  • Services will take twenty minutes between Coryton and Cardiff.

The Coryton service is slower because of the proposed new station.

Electrification

The line will be electrified using 25 KVAC.

  • There is a short tunnel at Bargoed station.
  • There is a mile-long tunnel at Caerphilly.
  • There were quite a few footbridges across the tracks.
  • The margins on either side of the track seem adequate on much of the route.

It looks to me, that electrification of the Rhymney Line cshuld be possible, provided the design is good.

The Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts will have batteries, which will have these purposes.

  • Provide traction power for the trains, where there is no electrification.
  • Capture the energy generated by the traction motors under braking.
  • Ensure that power is always available for the train’s control, driver and passenger systems.

On the Rhymney Line, battery power will also be used to provide traction power in the mile-long Caerphilly Tunnel.

I have been told that although the tunnel will not be electrified, there will be an overhead rail for the pantograph in the tunnel, which will not be electrified.

This means that the pantograph doesn’t have to be raised and lowered, as the train goes up and down the hill, as there is a continuous overhead rail and line for the pantograph to use all the way.

I believe that when the train is coming down the hill, that gravity and the onboard battery will give sufficient power to bring the train safely down the hill.

So is there any point in electrifying the downhill path?

  • The two terminals on the line; Rhymney and Coryton stations, are single platform stations on single-track lines, which will surely be electrified.
  • If necessary batteries could be topped up before on the single track sections, before joining the double-rack line to Cardiff.
  • There is very little if any freight or engineering trains on the line. But these will be diesel-hauled.
  • After the modernisation, all the passenger trains will be the new electric trains with batteries and/or diesel engines.
  • Diesel trains and locomotives could continue to work the lines as required.

I don’t think there is any operational reason for the downhill path to be electrified.

It would reduce costs in both construction and maintenance.

 

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is It With The Welsh And Batteries?

If ordering two fleets of rail vehicles with batteries, that I wrote about in The Greening Of The Valleys, KeolisAmey Wales have now gone and ordered a third fleet for North Wales.

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled Vivarail D-Trains For Wales & Borders.

This is the first paragraph.

Incoming Wales & Borders franchisee KeolisAmey is to take delivery of five three-car Class 230 D-Train diesel-battery multiple-units from Vivarail, which is to produce them using the bogies and aluminium bodyshells of withdrawn London Underground D78 metro trains.

Note that they are described as diesel-battery trains.

The article says the Class 230 trains will be used on these lines.

Five trains have been ordered, but I suspect it will eventually be more.

I believe that this picture shows a property of the Class 230 train, that would be ideal for Welsh routes or any other scenic lines.

They have large windows and get the interior design right and they could become an iconic way to fill a difficult niche market.

  • A reliable hourly or half-hourly service on a remote line.
  • A quality interior with everything customers expect like a fully-accessible toilet, wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Space for bikes, buggies, babies and wheel-chairs.
  • Step-free entry between train and platform was possible at some stations on the District Line and I suspect that many stations could be made, so that wheelchairs and buggies could just roll across.
  • The ability to be serviced remotely.

Note that the train is fitted with toilets from Cwmbran in South Wales.

Did Transport for Wales say, that if you fitted Welsh toilets, we’ll buy a few trains?

I suspect though, that they are much better toilets, than those I saw as a child in castles like Caernarfon, Conway and Harlech, where the inhabitants in the Middle Ages must have been quick on the job to avoid the getting shot with arrows, where it would hurt!

I suspect constipation was rare in those days!

Seriously though, here’s a video of the Class 230 trains for Wales.

This video comes from this article in this article on Wrexham.com.

How Do The Trains Work?

I obviously don’t know exactly, but I suspect the method of operation is very similar to that of some of the advanced hybrid buses, like a new Routemaster.

Each of the diesel engines have a generator, which produces electricity. This can either be fed directly to the traction motors to power the train or stored in the onboard battery.

The train’s control system manages the power and chooses, whether traction power comes from the diesel engine or the battery.

This means that the diesel engines don’t have to work all the time.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Greening Of The Valleys

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

The documents gives these two definitions.

  • South Wales Metro – Includes the full set of local services around South East Wales. This includes what is currently known as the ‘Valley Lines’, plus services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.
  • Central Metro -Refers to the sub-set of the South Wales Metro train services which run from Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Radyr, Rhymney and Coryton, through Queen Street to Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Central, Penarth, Barry Island and Bridgend.

For these services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 x four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 x three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 x four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 x three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

This diagram from the document shows the routes and the frequencies.

They also say the following surrounding the map in the document.

  • Maintains all existing connections to Cardiff Queen Street and Cardiff Central stations.
  • Service pattern easy to understand
  • Most frequencies even in the hour ‘clockface’ (e.g. 00-15-30-45 past)
  • Vale of Glamorgan, Barry, Penarth and City Lines integrated into Central Metro solution.
  • 2tph from Pontypridd station ‘divert’ via City Line but don’t terminate at Central i.e. Aberdare – City Line – Central – Merthyr

Note that Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney and Treherbert stations all get a total of four trains per hour (tph)

The Trains In More Detail

Stadler Rail are building the three fleets of rail vehicles.

Stadler Flirt DEMUs

Over a thousand Stadler Flirts have been sold to operators around the world. Most have been or will be built in Switzerland.

From the pictures, the trains, that will be delivered to Wales, look very much like the Class 755 trains, that have been ordered by Greater Anglia. These trains will enter service next year.

Stadler Flirt DEMUs gives more details of these trains and the closely-related fleets.

The trains will operate services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.

Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts

I would expect that these trains are very similar to the bi-mode Flirt DEMUs, but that the power-pack would also contain a battery.

Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts gives more details of these trains and how I think they will operate.

The Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts are intended for Rhymney/Coryton <> Penarth/Barry Island/Bridgend via the Vale of Glamorgan Line.

There will be a lot of commonality between the two types of Flirts and I suspect driver and other staff training for the two variants will be the same.

Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles in the KeolisAmey document. look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the heavy rail network to Rotherham.

Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles gives more details of these trains and how I think they will operate.

From Cardiff Queen Street To The Flourish

It looks like the Metro vehicles will use the batteries for power on the extension to the new terminal station at The Flourish.

I describe the proposal for the extension to the Flourish in The Flourish Station Is The Focus Of The South Wales Metro.

Electrically-Efficient Operation Of The Metro

I have a feeling that Stadler are bringing some of their mountaineering experience from Switzerland to the valleys of South Wales.

It is interesting that both the Tri-mode Stadler Flirts and the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles will have batteries.

Climbing The Hills

The main purpose of the batteries is to make the climb and descent to the terminals at the heads of the valleys as energy efficient as possible.

Efficient climbing of the hills will need all uphill tracks to be electrified.

The KeolisAmey document states this about the electrification.

Discontinuous overhead line electrification to 25 KVAC with permanently earthed sections around restricted structures, saving 55 interventions e.g. rebuilding bridges/no need for wire in Caerphilly tunnel.

Battery power would be invaluable for jumping the gaps in the electrification.

Coming down, I believe that the trains and tram-trains will use the batteries to handle the energy generated by regenerative braking.

This means.

  • The electrification can be simpler.
  • There might be no need to electrify the downhill track in double-track sections.
  • Trains can use the battery power  to cross sections without wires or restarting from stations, when going downhill.
  • Tram-trains going to The Flourish will arrive at Cardiff Queen Street station with enough energy in the batteries for the return trip to The Flourish.
  • The Cardiff Bay Line doesn’t need to be electrified, which saves money and possibly increases safety and reduces visual intrusion.

It is not only energy efficient, but it saves construction costs and time.

Why Aren’t Citylink Metro Vehicles  Used On The Rhymney Line?

There are several possible reasons.

  • Calculations have shown, that the battery capacity of the smaller Citylink vehicle might not be enough to go uphill through the Caerrphilly tunnel.
  • The route may need more powerful vehicles.
  • More capacity may be needed on this line, so the larger Tri-mode Stadler Flirts will be used.
  • The Flirts could use their diesel engines to rescue a train stuck in the tunnel.

But whatever the reason, I’m sure it’s a good one!

Could Downhill Tracks Not Be Electrified?

I think this may be possible, as vehicles coming down the hills could use gravity and small amounts of battery power.

Regenerative braking would also be continuously charging the batteries.

It would certainly be simpler, than having to constantly swap between overhead and battery power on the descent, where the electrification was discontinuous.

As the lines are going to have a more intensive service, there will be additions of a second track in places to allow trains to pass.

Any electrification that could be removed from the project would be beneficial in terms of building and operational costs.

How Would Discountinuous Electrification Be Handled?

I discus this in How Can Discontinuous Electrification Be Handled?

The Lines In More Detail

Click these links to find out more about the individual lines.

Rhymney Line

Conclusion

The two types of compatible vehicles, allows the plans for the South Wales Metro to be a cost-effective and very green solution for Cardiff’s transport needs.

It is a model, that can be used elsewhere.

Will railway engineers in future talk of the Cardiff Model, just as they talk of the Karlsruhe Model?

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More Information From The International Railway Journal About The New Wales And Borders Franchise

In Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story, I said I needed more information on what was happening with the new Wales and Borders franchise.

This article on the International Railway Journal is entitled £800m fleet renewal plan for new Welsh franchise, gives a lot more serious information.

These two paragraphs outline the plans.

According to the Welsh government, around £800m will be invested in rolling stock to ensure that by 2023, 95% of journeys will be made on a new fleet of 148 trains. The average age of the fleet will drop from 25 years to seven years by 2024.

More than half of the new trains will be assembled in Wales, indicating a major order will be placed with CAF, which is currently building a new assembly plant near Newport.

The article then goes on to make specific points.

Class 769 Trains

Class 769 trains will be used as a stop-gap measure until the arrival of new bi-mode trains.

Five of these trains are on order for delivery in the next eighteen months.

Class 230 Trains

Class 230 trains will join the fleet.

Perhaps they will be used on the Conwy Valley Line.

The line is rather isolated from depots at Cardiff, Chester and Machynlleth, which would find the Class 230 trains remote servicing capabilities useful.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales states that the Class 230 trains will work the Borderlands Line, which will have a two trains per hour (tph) frequency.

As the journey takes an hour each way with a round trip possible in two hours, I suspect that a two tph frequency will need four trains, with perhaps a fifth one ready to step into service.

Again the remote servicing capability of the Class 230 train will come into play, as will the train’s affordability.

Class 170 Trains

Several Class 170 trains will join the fleet.

These could be coming from Greater Anglia, who currently have twelve of the trains, that will be replaced by Class 755 trains.

This page on the Welsh Government web site, contains this sentence.

On the Heart of Wales line, introduce refurbished Class 170 two-car units by 2022.

If you want to find out more about train services in Mid and South-West Wales, the page is well-worth a read.

Mark 4 Carriages

Mark 4 Carriages released from the East Coast Main Line will replace the current Mark 3 Carriages.

Phasing Out Of Diesel Multiple Units

The article makes these two points.

The only ones worth keeping could be the Class 158 trains, most of which if fitted with wi-fi would be acceptable on many routes.

New Diesel Multiple Units For Long Distance Services

The article says that new diesel multiple units will be introduced on these routes.

  • North Wales Coast and Cambrian lines in 2022
  • Milford Haven – Manchester route by 2023

This page on the Welsh Government web site, also says a new Swansea to Manchester service will be introduced from 2024.

In Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story, I suggested that Class 755 trains could be used on these routes.

  • They have similar performance to the Class 175 trains.
  • Length and power can be tailored for each route. Greater Anglia have ordered two sizes.
  • As they are bi-modes, they could take advantage of the electrification East of Cardiff and around Birmingham and Manchester.

But the biggest thing in favour of Class 755 trains, is that the thirty-eight units for Greater Anglia are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. So if the Welsh trains are virtually identical to those for Greater Anglia, there would not be any serious certification problems.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales indicates that these trains could be diesel versions of the CAF Civity.

The South Wales Metro

The IRJ article says that £738 million will be invested in this project.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales gives a few more details of train frequencies.

This is an increase in frequency.

It appears there will be two distinct sections of this network, which I’ll discuss in the next two sub-sections.

An Electric Network On The Cardiff Valley Lines

The IRJ article says this.

A new fleet of low-floor vehicles offering level boarding will be introduced on the network by December 2022.

I think we can assume this about the vehicles.

  • They will be tram-trains.
  • They will have batteries.
  • They will be able to use 750 VDC and 25 KVAC electrification.
  • There will be a proportion of street running in Cardiff.

It would also be highly likely, that these vehicles will be built by CAF, in their new Newport factory. Wikipedia mentions a tram-train version of their Urbos trams, which are used in Edinburgh and the Midlands, which is called an Urbos TT.

A Complimentary Tri-Mode Network

The article says this.

A new fleet of Stadler “tri-mode” (electric/diesel/battery) multiple units will maintain links from Penarth, Barry and Bridgend to stations north of Cardiff Central. These trains will enter service from December 2023.

It looks from the pictures that these will be a version of the Class 755 trains.

In From Novara To Aosta, I described the route, where similar Stadler trains will be used on the Chivasso-Ivrea-Aosta railway to reach the town of Aosta. I would suspect that the Italian route could be more challenging, than anything South Wales has to offer.

The Heads Of The Valleys Stations Will Be Served By CAF’s Tram-Trains And Stadler Tri-Modes

It would appear from Wikipedia, that the stations at the heads of the valleys will have the following frequencies.

These frequencies and some single-platform terminal stations, will mean that careful design must be applied, so that all vehicles have level access from platform to vehicle.

This picture shows the access to a Stadler Flirt in Italy.

Note the gap filler, which automatically moves into place.

I’m sure engineers and designers working for KeolisAmey, CAF and Stadler can come up with a very good solution.

Will The Valley Lines Be Electrified With 25 KVAC?

I think it is highly likely that CAF’s vehicles for the tram section of the South Wales Metro will be tram-trains with a dual 750 VDC/25 KVAC capability and batteries.

Imagine one of these vehicles climbing to say Aberdare using the Merthyr Line, which is a mixture of single and double-track to Cardiff.

Going up to Aberdare, due to the gradients, the vehicles will need access to electrical power, so electrification is necessary, unless each vehicle has a massive diesel generator or ultra-large battery, which are respectively not very environmentally friendly or practical.

But I doubt it will matter if the electrification is 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.

Going down the valley to Cardiff, I believe that CAF’s vehicles will use Newtons friend; gravity and regenerative braking to control the speed. The energy generated by the braking would be stored in an onboard battery.

CAF have all the technology and it would be extremely energy efficient.

The Stadler tri-modes would have to use diesel on the way up, but given they have batteries, I suspect they’d come down in a similar way to the CAF tram-trains.

So what voltage should be used?

  • The CAF tram-trains will probably be able to use either voltage.
  • If batteries are used to handle regenerative braking, this works with all voltages.
  • The Stadler tri-modes will probably need 25 KVAC.
  • Electrifying with 25 KVAC would allow the Stadler tri-modes to avoid a lot of running on diesel.
  • Any electric locomotives hauling freight would need 25 KVAC.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the valley lines electrified with 25 KVAC.

Will Only The Uphill Tracks Be Electrified?

I believe that if trains coming down the valleys use batteries for regenerative braking and restarting at stations, it may be possible to only electrify a single-track, that is always used for uphill trains.

But only the tracks for uphill trains were electrified, this would make the works easier and reduce costs and disruption to passengers.

Conclusion

It looks like KeolisAmey have got a well thought-out plan!

 

June 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story

This picture on the Rail Technology Magazine website shows a Greater Anglia Class 755 train.

And this picture on the Global Rail News website shows one of the new trains for Transport for Wales.

It is captioned “A Tri-mode unit on the Rhymney Line”.

On another report it is captioned “How a KeolisAmey tram-train will look”.

All trains look very similar and I’m pretty certain that Wales will be getting some Class 755 trains.

Class 755 Trains

Class 755 trains will have the following characteristics.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Able to work on 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • Able to work using an onboard diesel power-pack.
  • Three or more passenger cars.
  • Ability to be lengthened by adding extra cars as required.
  • Lots of power.

They would be ideal replacements for the current Class 175 trains, as the performance would appear to be similar.

They would also be ideal for services on the following routes.

When running around Birmingham, Cardiff, Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester, they would be able to use the electrification.

So are Keolis/Amey going for a predominantly uniform fleet of perhaps three-car and four-car Class 755 trains outside of the Cardiff Valley Lines, just as Greater Anglia used these trains on their routes without electrification North of Cambridge and Ipswich?

The Borderlands Line

The interesting route is the Borderlands Line between Wrexham Central and Bidston stations.

Currently, to get to and from Liverpool, there is a need to change trains at Bidston.

Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains are being built by Stadler.

  • They will link Bidston station to Liverpool, where they will call at several stations in a single-track loop tunnel.
  • The trains have been designed to work under battery power.
  • Both classes of train are likely to be very similar under the skin.

So to eliminate the time-wasting change of train at Bidston station, I wonder if Stadler have designed the Class 755 and Class 777 trains, so that they can both run in the loop tunnel.

The additions needed to the Welsh Class 755 trains, over the Greater Anglian versions would be.

  • Ability to use Merseyrail’s third rail electrification.
  • Clearance to run in the tunnel with diesel onboard.
  • Ability to evacuate passengers in the tunnel, in an emergency.

As Merseyrail have recently rebuilt the tunnel for the new Class 777 trains, I suspect that Stadler can design a Class 755 train, that would be able to avoid the change of train at Bidston.

I’ll Wait For More Information

It would seem prudent to wait for more information.

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments