The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce Commences Series Production Of Hybrid-Ready MTU PowerPacks For Irish Rail

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rolls-Royce is to supply its very first series production MTU PowerPacks which are prepared for future use as hybrid traction units: Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail, the national railway operator of the Republic of Ireland, has ordered 41 of these MTU Hybrid-ready PowerPacks. Fitted with MTU 6H 1800 R86 engines, the PowerPacks comply with the EU Stage V emissions directives and each delivers 375 kW from the diesel engine as well as 150 kW from the electrical machine.

Later the aim would be to add batteries to the PowerPacks to make the trains fully hybrid.

I do think Rolls-Royce MTU might have a game-changer here.

  • You take a modern fleet of diesel multiple units like a British Class 170 trains or an Irish Class 22000 trains,
  • For starters you replace the old diesel engine, with a modern one that meets all the latest environmental regulations.
  • It surely helps both sales and engineering, when the old diesel engine was supplied by MTU.
  • Later you fit appropriately sized batteries to the PowerPack to create full hybrids with regenerative braking.

In Iarnród Éireann Orders Stage V MTU PowerPacks, I said this about fuel consumption and emissions.

The aim is to achieve a reduction of over thirty percent in both fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

I would suspect that with savings like that, the case for conversion might be an easy sell.

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Iarnród Éireann Orders Stage V MTU PowerPacks

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

The IE 22000 Class trains appear to be the main rolling stock of Irish Rail.

The Railway Gazette International article describes in detail how MTU are updating the standard diesel engines in these trains with their latest Hybrid PowerPacks.

The aim is to achieve a reduction of over thirty percent in both fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

From reading the article, it doesn’t appear to be a challenging project, once the testing is complete.

It does appear that MTU seem to get these conversion projects right.

Progress On The Porterbrook HybridFLEX Project

There is another engine conversion project, that uses MTU PowerPacks, underway in the UK, which I wrote about in Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project In The UK With MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, in September 2018.

Porterbrook call it the HybridFLEX project. I wonder how it is getting on.

This article on Diesel and Gas Turbine Worldwide, which is entitled Ricardo Leading Hybrid Train Project In UK, is the last reference I can find in January 2019.

As there are over two hundred trains, that can be converted in the UK, I’m looking forward to the rolling out of Porterbrook’s HybridFLEX project.

I suspect operators are too, as they’d like to save all that diesel.

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Restoring A South Humber Link

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The project is described by these two paragraphs in this article in the Yorkshire Post, which is entitled Government Announce Yorkshire Rail Schemes That Could Receive ‘Reverse Beeching’ Funding.

North Lincolnshire Council have bid for funding to subsidise a new train service that would allow passengers from Barton-on-Humber to travel to Gainsborough, from where they would be able to catch direct services to Sheffield.

This would be achieved by diverting the existing Barton to Grimsby and Cleethorpes trains up a freight-only section used by traffic heading to Immingham docks. There have never been passenger trains using this path before.

This rail map clipped from Wikipedia shows the Barton Line to Barton-on-Humber station.

Note.

  1. Barton-on-Humber station has a bus link to Hull station.
  2. The loop gives a grand tour of the Port of Immingham on what is now a freight-only line.
  3. There is a lot of development going on in the area including the AltAlto aviation biofuel, that I wrote about in Grant Shapps Announcement On Friday.

Perhaps all this development is causing a lot of small problems.

  • Is it causing congestion on the roads?
  • Are workers difficult to find in the Immingham area?
  • Is commuting over the Humber Bridge expensive?
  • Is parking difficult in the Port?

North Lincolnshire Council could feel that a better rail connection serving the Port of Immingham, would be an asset, that reduces these problems.

I suspect the current two-hourly service between Barton-on-Humber and Cleethorpes stations, will be replaced by an hourly one, between Barton-on-Humber and Gainsborough Lea Road stations, that takes the following route.

  • Barton-on-Humber to Ulceby
  • At Ulceby station the train will reverse and go clockwise around the loop.
  • After calling at Great Coates, Healing, Stallingborough and Habrough stations, the train would go West to Barnetby and Gainsborough Lea Road stations.
  • Passengers wanting to go from Barton-on-Humber to Grimsby Town or Cleethorpes, would change at Great Coates station.

It may look a rather round-about route, but I suspect that the plan includes some stations to serve the Port of Immingham and the industrial development.

I suspect that some of these port, oil, chemical and energy companies can afford to pay a contribution.

Gainsborough Lea Road Station

Gainsborough Lea Road station is a mix of architectural styles.

But with the addition of a friendly café and some other facilities, it would be a good interchange between the Immingham area and Sheffield and the county town of Lincoln.

Future Trains

Lincolnshire is an energy-rich county, which partly explains all the industrial development in the North-East of the county around Grimsby, Immingham and Scunthorpe.

  • Immingham is a large importer of biomass for power generation.
  • There are off-shore and on-shore gas fields connected to Theddlethorpe gas terminal.
  • There is the large power station complex at Keadby.

But the energy mix is a-changing.

  • Keadby now includes a solar farm.
  • Wind turbines are springing up both on land and in the sea.

If I was to make a prediction, it would be that more and more large energy-related businesses will develop in the area.

  • In recent months, Altalto’s waste-to-aviation biofuel plant has been given national and local government backing to be built at Immingham.
  • ITM Power are involved in a hydrogen development project in the area.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see hydrogen produced for transport from all this energy.

I think it will be inevitable, that zero-carbon battery electric or hydrogen-powered trains will run in the area.

  • Cleethorpes and Doncaster via Scunthorpe 52 miles apart.
  • Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber are 23 miles apart
  • Lincoln and Newark are 16.5 miles apart.
  • Lincoln and Doncaster are 37 miles apart.
  • Lincoln and Sheffield are 48 miles apart
  • Lincoln and the electrification at Peterborough are 54 miles apart.
  • Skegness and Sleaford are 41 miles apart.
  • Sleaford and Grantham are 18 miles apart.

With charging facilities at Barton-on-Humber, Lincoln, Skegness and Sleaford, the whole of Lincolnshire could be served by zero-carbon battery electric trains.

I suspect LNER could lead the way, as a five-car Class 800 train equipped with batteries, is predicted to have a 56 mile range away from the wires, which would easily handle a return trip between Newark and Lincoln.

There could be a small problem, in that the first train of the day, between Lincoln and London Kings Cross positions from Doncaster Carr IEP Depot, so running Doncaster to Newark via Lincoln might challenge the battery range of the train. I suspect, that the positioning could be performed via Newark with a reverse, prior to the installation of a charging facility at Lincoln Central station.

I estimate that Barton-on-Humber and Gainsborough Lea Road stations are about 35 miles apart, so with today’s battery technology, I suspect that a round trip in a battery electric train would be on the limit. But with charging facilities at Gainsborough, there would be no problems.

I suspect that East Midlands Railway would use several of their forty diesel Class 170 trains on this and other routes in Lincolnshire, so perhaps a good interim solution would be to run the Class 170 trains on Altalto’s biodiesel, that will be produced at Immingham.

There is also the possibility, that some or all of the Class 170 trains will be retrofitted with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, which would cut their diesel consumption.

Surely, with all Lincolnshire’s energy, hydrogen-powered trains must be a possibility. But they seem to be stuck in a siding!

The MTU Hybrid PowerPack and Altalto’s bio-diesel seems a more affordable and less risky route.

A Direct Connection To London

In the Wikipedia entry for Gainsborough Lea Road station, there is a section called Future Services, where a direct connection to London is mentioned.

Conclusion

Given that the likes of East Midlands Railway, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express are improving their services to Hull, Lincoln, Cleethorpes and Grimsby, this local North Lincolnshire Metro serving the Port and the industrial development, could well be welcomed by those that live and work in the area.

I doubt that the infrastructure cost will be very high.

July 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury.

This is the introductory paragraph.

We’re examining the case to increase services from three to four per hour, made possible by capacity released post-HS2.

They then give the outline of their plans, which can be summed up as follows.

  • Services on the corridor are slow and unreliable.
  • Network Rail say the service is in danger of acute overcrowding.
  • Services will be increased from three trains per hour (tph) to four.
  • A direct hourly service from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford to London will be introduced.
  • Services to Birmingham International will be doubled.
  • The economic case will be examined for speeding up services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham from 56 to 45 minutes, via track upgrades and possible electrification.

It seems a safe, and not overly ambitious plan.

These are my thoughts.

Shrewsbury’s Unique Position

These are distances and times from important stations.

  • Birmingham International – 51 miles and 83 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street – 42.5 miles and 71 minutes
  • Chester – 42.5 miles and 53 minutes
  • Crewe – 33 miles and 53 minutes
  • Hereford – 51 miles and 59 minutes
  • Telford – 14 miles and 21 minutes
  • Wellington – 10 miles and 13 minutes
  • Welshpool – 20 miles and 25 minutes
  • Wolverhampton – 30 miles and 50 minutes

In Sparking A Revolution, I quoted this Hitachi-specification for a battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I can’t see any problem, for a train with this specification being able to reach Shrewsbury from Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street and Crewe on battery power.

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, I quote an article with the same title in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways as saying this.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shrewsbury served from Birmingham and Crewe by fast electric trains, that used battery power. Avanti West Coast certainly seem to have that thought in mind.

Zero Carbon Trains Between Shrewsbury And Wales

It will be a formidable challenge to run battery trains from Shrewsbury to the Welsh destinations.

  • Aberystwyth – 81.5 miles
  • Cardiff – 107 miles
  • Carmarthen – 185 miles
  • Holyhead – 133 miles
  • Milford Haven – 225 miles
  • Swansea – 121.5 miles

Note.

  1. These are challenging distances for battery-electric trains.
  2. South Wales destinations served via Newport and Cardiff could use the electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  3. Many of these services start from East of Shrewsbury and can use the electrified lines that connects to Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

Unless someone like Riding Sunbeams, makes a breakthrough, I can’t see battery-electric trains running to Welsh destinations from Shrewsbury.

Transport for Wales New Trains

Transport for Wales have ordered seventy-seven new Class 197 trains, and these diesel trains will be used for services through Shrewsbury, mainly on services to Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International stations.

  • If these trains are similar to Northern’s Class 195 trains, they will be diesel multiple units with a noisy mechanical transmission.
  • I was surprised in these days of global warming that Transport for Wales didn’t buy something more eco-friendly, as they have for South Wales and the services around Chester.
  • The transmission of the Class 197 trains has not been disclosed.

Perhaps, CAF are going to do something innovative.

  • The CAF Civity is a modular train, with either electric or diesel power options.
  • The diesel-powered options use MTU engines.
  • A logical development would be to use an MTU Hybrid PowerPack to reduce diesel consumption and emissions.
  • This PowerPack would also reduce noise, as it has an electric transmission.
  • I wonder, if CAF can raid their parts bin and fit a pantograph, so where 25 KVAC overhead electrification is available, it can be used.
  • If CAF can convert a bog standard diesel multiple unit into a hybrid diesel-electric-battery multiple unit, by performing a heart transplant, it is a neat way of keeping new diesel Civities running until a later date.
  • Remember that Northern and West Modlands Trains have another seventy-four similar new diesel Civities in operation or on order. With trains having a forty year life, they don’t fit with an early phasing out of diesel.

I have no idea, what is actually happening, but my engineer’s nose tells me to expect a surprise from CAF.

Increasing Birmingham And Shrewsbury Services From Three Trains Per Hour To Four

Four trains per hour or one train every fifteen minutes seems to be a preferred frequency on several UK suburban lines.

These services seem to provide four tph or better on most, if not all of their routes.

  • Birmingham Cross-City Line
  • London Overground
  • Merseyrail
  • Tyne and Wear Metro

Four tph seems to be a very handy Turn-Up-And-Go frequency that encourages people to use rail services.

So I am not surprised to see Midlands Connect wanting four tph between Birmingham and Shrewsbury.

Currently, the following services seem to operate between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

  • Avanti West Coast – 2 trains per day (tpd) – Shrewsbury and London Euston via Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International.
  • Trains for Wales – 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Holyhead and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains for Wales 1 tph – Aberystwyth/Pwllheli and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street
  • West Midlands Trains – 2 tph – Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street – One semi-fast and one stopper.

Note.

  1. All services call at Wolverhampton, Telford and Wellington.
  2. Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street is a 3.5 tph service.
  3. Shrewsbury and Birmingham International is a 1.5 tph service.

It relies heavily on services from Trains for Wales, who probably don’t put Shrewsbury and Birmingham services at the top of their priorities.

I remember, when local services in the North-East of London were run by Greater Anglia from Norwich. Moving some services to Transport for London, brought about a large improvement

Quite frankly, the current service is best described as pathetic.

Should Trains for Wales Services Terminate As Shrewsbury?

I suspect some local politicians in Shrewsbury and Birmingham, think it would be best to adopt this sort of strategy.

  • All Welsh services terminate at Shrewsbury.
  • Birmingham and Shrewsbury mandate West Midlands Trains and Avanti West Coast to provide a frequent service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

It might be the way to go, but many travellers from the Marches, would probably want direct connections to Birmingham, Birmingham Airport and in the future High Speed Two.

Introducing A Direct Hourly Service From Shrewsbury, Wellington And Telford To London

On the face of it, it looks like a much needed service to and from Shrewsbury.

  • It will be hourly.
  • Initially it will use Class 221 diesel multiple units, but these will be replaced with bi-mode Class 805 trains.
  • The current infrequent service calls at Watford Junction, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Telford Central and Wellington.
  • There are also six other stations between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, which might like an improved service.
  • The service will be run by Avanti West Coast.

There might also be the possibility of using battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, which is only thirty miles each way.

But there are other collateral benefits.

  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street stations by one tph to 4.5 tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International by one tph to 2.5 tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Wolverhampton and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Sandwell and Dudley and London Euston by one tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham New Street and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham International and London Euston by one tph.
  • The new service will provide an hourly quality connection to High Speed Two at Birmingham International for stations between Shrewsbury and Coventry.
  • It appears that the Class 390 trains to Birmingham New Street and being replaced by new Class 807 trains, so Birmingham will have three out of four tph, run by new trains.
  • The new Shrewsbury service , has a similar calling pattern to that of the current Scottish service through Birmingham. Will it replace that service, when High Speed Two opens?

Note.

  1. Midlands Connect’s objective of four tph between Shrewsbury and Birmingham has been met.
  2. Several stations get a better direct service to London.
  3. Connectivity to High Speed Two is improved.
  4. Birmingham New Street and London is now a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph.
  5. The Class 805 train will also mean that Avanti West Coast could be zero-carbon in Birmingham. Especially, if it used battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.

The hourly direct service between Shrewsbury and London will make a lot of difference to train services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

Avanti’s London Euston and Birmingham New Street Service

Consider.

  • There are two tph that terminate in Birmingham New Street station, that take 88-89 minutes, from London Euston
  • There is one tph that goes through Birmingham New Street station to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, or Shrewsbury, that takes 82-84 minutes, from London Euston.
  • Currently, the two terminating trains are Class 390 trains, whereas the through train can be a Class 221 train as well.
  • Through trains are allowed  5-10 minutes to pass through Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains that terminate at Birmingham New Street station are allowed 20-30 minutes to arrive and leave.
  • Avanti West Coast have said, that they will be running Class 807 trains between London and Birmingham New Street.

It doesn’t seem to be the best use of scarce platform resources in a busy station to park a train there for half-an-hour.

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to the conclusion that the Class 807 trains have been designed as simple, fast, lightweight all-electric trains with no heavy batteries, diesel engines on tilt mechanism.

  • I think they’ll be able to shave a few minutes on the timings between London Euston and Birmingham New Street station.
  • I would suspect that they will match the 82-84 minutes of the through trains
  • The ultimate would be if they could do a round trip between London Euston and Birmingham New Street in three hours.
  • Two tph run by what would effectively be a London-Birmingham shuttle would need just six trains.

It might mean new methods of manning the trains, to reduce turnround times.

Doubling Of Services Between Shrewsbury And Birmingham International

The hourly direct London and Shrewsbury Avanti West Coast service will raise the current 1.5 tph service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International to 2.5 tph, so will be a good start.

  • Perhaps Trains for Wales could find the missing 0.5 tph.
  • West Midlands Trains might be able to squeeze in another train.

But I suspect that the crowded line between Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International is the problem.

Shrewsbury And Birmingham In Forty-Five Minutes

This is the last objective and saving eleven minutes on this route would suggest that the best way would surely be to fully electrify the route.

  • Between Wolverhampton and Birmingham International stations is fully electrified.
  • Electric trains have faster acceleration and deceleration, so would probably achieve the required savings if they stopped more than five times.
  • From my virtual helicopter it doesn’t appear to be the most challenging of routes to electrify.
  • Only about thirty miles of double track would need to be electrified between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.
  • Both Trains for Wales and West Midlands Trains would have to obtain new electric trains.
  • Avanti West Coast have already got bi-mode Class 805 trains, that could use the electrification.

But will Trains for Wales go along with Midlands Connect, when they tell them to get electric or bi-mode trains to work between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations?

It is because of dilemmas like this, that I feel that electric trains using battery or hydrogen power, when away from electrification can be a very good alternative.

  • There is no major disruption raising bridges for the electrification.
  • Stations don’t need to be closed for electrification.
  • The trains have all the comfort and performance of electric trains.
  • Costs and timescales can be reduced.
  • When running on battery or hydrogen power, these trains are very quiet, as there is no pantograph noise.

To run battery-electric trains between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, the only infrastructure needed would be a method of charging the train at Shrewsbury station.

This Google Map shows the Southern end of Shrewsbury station.

Note.

  1. The platforms are built over the River Severn.
  2. The five-car Class 221 train in Virgin livery sitting in Platform 5.
  3. When this train leaves it will turn left or to the East for Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
  4. Trains can turn right for Wales.

It is a very unusual station layout.

  • Platform 5 is one of a pair of bay platforms; 5 & 6, that can access either Wales or Birmingham.
  • Outside of the bay platforms are a pair of through platforms; 4 & 7, that can also access Wales or Birmingham, but they can also access Chester by going through the station.
  • The 115 metre long Class 221 train fits easily in the bay platform 5.
  • The 130 metre long Class 805 train would probably need to use Platform 4 or 7.

But with well-planned electrification, it would be ideal for charging electric trains as they pass through or turned back!

Once the train reaches Wolverhampton, it will connect to electrification again.

Shrewsbury And High Speed Two

Currently, Shrewsbury has three connections to stations, where it would be convenient to take a High Speed Two train.

  • Birmingham International, which is 51 miles and 83 minutes away. Plus a ride on a people mover for High Speed Two.
  • Birmingham New Street, which is 42.5 miles and 71 minutes away. Plus a walk to Birmingham Curzon Street for High Speed Two.
  • Crewe, which is 33 miles and 55 minutes away.

Passengers will make their own choice.

Could Shrewsbury Have A Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Service To Manchester Piccadilly?

London To Shrewsbury, Now And Post-High Speed Two

Travel On Monday

If I want to go to Shrewsbury next Monday, one fast journey is taking the 09:10 from Euston and changing at Crewe, which gives a journey time of two hours and thirty-two minutes.

I can also get a train with a change at Birmingham International that takes seven minutes longer.

Travel On High Speed Two

After High Speed Two opens to Birmingham Curzon Street and Interchange in Phase 1 what sort of times to Shrewsbury can be expected?

I estimate the following.

  • Travelling via Birmingham Curzon Street could produce a time of around one hour and fifty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Crewe could produce a time of one hour and thirty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Interchange could produce a time of around one hour and fifty-five minutes. or forty-four minutes faster.

If I was going to Shrewsbury after High Speed Two has opened, I would probably change at Birmingham Curzon Street, if the walk to New Street station was still within my capabilities, as there will be a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph between Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury stations.

Looking at the Midlands Connect objectives, these help with linking Shrewsbury with London.

  • Increasing services between Birmingham and Shrewsbury to four tph, as it’s Turn-Up-And-Go!
  • The direct hourly service to London from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford might be the quickest way to London by changing at Birmingham New Street/Curzon Street or Interchange.
  • Doubling the service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International, may be a good move, as Interchange, which will be connected to Birmingham International by a high capacity people mover, will have five tph between London Euston and Old Oak Common stations.
  • Saving eleven minutes between Shrewsbury and Birmingham will certainly help.

Travelling between London and Telford, Wellington and Shrewsbury will be much improved.

 

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Will Future Hitachi AT-300 Trains Have MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

I have mentioned this possibility in a couple of posts and I feel there are several reasons, why this might be more than a possibility!

What Do We Know About The Second Iteration Of An AT-300?

The first order for East Midlands Railway is for thirty-three five-car trains.

  • Four engines instead of three.
  • 125 mph on diesel power.
  • A modified nose profile.

I find the nose profile significant, as I don’t believe that the current trains are aerodynamically much more efficient than British Rail’s legendary InterCity 125 trains.

On the other hand, Bombardier’s Aventras look as if the company’s aerospace division has been involved in the design. They certainly are very quiet, when they pass close by.

The second order for West Coast Rail is thin on detail, but they do mention that services from Euston could reach as far as Godowen.

I would also feel that 125 mph on diesel could be very helpful on the North Wales Coast Line to Holyhead.

Will 140 mph Running Be Commonplace?

Very much so!

For 140 mph running by the current trains, the following is needed.

  • Tracks able to accommodate that speed.
  • ERTMS signalling
  • In-cab signalling

Wikipedia speaks of unspecified minor modifications to the trains.

To answer my question, I believe there will be running over 125 mph, if not 140 mph on substantial stretches of the following lines.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

I also believe other routes could see large increases in operating speed on certain sections.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Breckland Line
  • Bristol and Exeter
  • East and West Coastways
  • Golden Valley Line
  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • Hitchin and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Reading and Exeter via Newbury

If trains are capable of 125 mph and faster running without electrification, I can see Network Rail, doing what they have shown they can do well on the Midland Main Line, which is increasing line speed.

Note that on my list, I have included the second route to Norwich via the East Coast Main Line, Cambridge and Thetford and Kings Lynn services.

I can envisage hourly 125 mph services to and from Norwich and Kings Lynn joining and splitting at Cambridge and then running at high speed between Kings Cross and Cambridge.

It would be a massive boost for West Norfolk and Norwich, but it would not require extra high speed paths on the East Coast Main Line.

There must be other routes that by proven conventional track engineering can be turned from 80-100 mph lines into 125-140 mph high speed lines. No problem electrification to promote, design and erect. It just needs appropriate trains.

I can see the following routes without electrification being run at 125-140 by the new AT-300 trains.

  • Euston and Holyhead
  • Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln
  • Kings Cross and Hull
  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn/Norwich
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh via Leeds
  • Paddington and Exeter via Basingstoke and Yeovil
  • Paddington and Gloucester/Cheltenham
  • Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke and Yeovil

There are probably other routes.

Without doubt, the new AT-300 trains must be able to run at 140 mph on lines without electrification, once Network Rail have raised the operating speed.

Thoughts On AT-300 TrainsWith MTU PowerPacks

These are my thoughts on various topics.

Weight

The data sheet for the MTU PowerPack gives the mass at around five tonnes for a diesel engine of 700 kW.

Depending on the way you read the figures this appears to be less than that of a similar power diesel..

Fuel Economy

This is obviously better and MTU are quoting a forty percent saving.

Regenerative Braking

This comes as standard.

One PowerPack Per Car

I always like this concept, especially as many trains these days seem to have a lot of powered axles.

It also reduces the energy losses in the cables between cars.

The East Midlands Railway trains seem to have five cars and four engines, so is that four motor cars and one trailer.

Would trains be lengthened by adding extra trailer and/or motor cars as appropriate in the middle of the train?

Simpler Control System

MTU will have responsibility for the software of the PowerPack and all Hitachi’s control system for the train, will need to do with the PowerPacks is tell them how much power is required.

Hopefully, this will help in the debugging of the train, for which Bombardier had so much trouble with the Aventra.

Batteries

It appears that the design of the PowerPacks is very flexible with respect to size and number of battery packs.

Would it be an advantage for a train builder or an operator to tailor the battery capacity to the speed and length of a route.

Compatible AT-200 Local Trains

The AT-200 is Hitachi’s smaller and slower train of which the Class 385 train is an example.

If a version were to be produced with say three or four cars and one or more MTU PowerPacks, Hitachi would have a very nice bi-mode with a lot in common with the new AT-300, which would ease servicing for train operators, who were running both trains

Hitachi’s Relationship With MTU

MTU engines are used in the current Hitachi trains, so unless I am told otherwise,I am led to believe they have a good working relationship.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next generation of AT-300 use MTU PowerPacks.

November 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On A Tri-Mode AT-300 Between Waterloo And Exeter

Note that in this post, I’m using the Class 802 train as an example of Hitachi’s AT-300 train.

In writing my post called What Would Be The Range Of A Tri-Mode Class 802 Train?, I realised that an efficient tri-mode train with electric, battery and diesel power could have a range of over a hundred miles.

Suppose a Class 802 train was built with the following characteristics, were designed for service on the West Of England Line.

  • Five cars, which would seat around 350 passengers.
  • Two diesel engines replaced with batteries of the same seven tonne weight.
  • At least 840 kWh or perhaps as much as 1,500 kWh of battery power could easily be installed.
  • One 700 kW diesel engine would be retained for electrification failure and to boost battery power.
  • All electrical equipment on the train will use the minimum amount of electricity.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Aerodynamics would be improved, as I believe Hitachi are doing.
  • I believe that the train could have an energy consumption to maintain 100 mph on the West Of England Line around two kWh per vehicle-mile.

So what would be the range of a five-car train on just 840 kWh of batteries?

  • The train would consume 10 kWh per mile.

So this would give a range of 84 miles.

The diesel engine could be key.

  • At 100 mph, the train does a mile in thirty-six seconds.
  • In this time, the diesel engine can generate up to 7 kWh.
  • The train would need just 3 kWh per mile from the batteries to maintain 100 mph.

This would give a range of 280 miles,

This is more than enough for the 125 miles between Basingstoke and Exeter St. Davids stations.

Other people read books in the evening, I do puzzles and mathematical exercises.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a forty-year-old InterCity 125 needs 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph. Surely, modern trains can halve that figure.

Suppose Hitachi, improve the aerodynamics and the energy consumption of the train, such that it is 1.5 kWh per vehicle mile, which is a figure I don’t consider impossible.

This would give a range with  840 kWh batteries of 112 miles.

With selective use of the diesel engine and a charging station at Exeter, this train could easily run between Waterloo and Exeter.

Passenger Capacity

The passenger capacity of the current Class 159 trains is 392 in two three-car trains working as a pair.

A five-car Class 802 train would probably seat 350 passengers in comfort.

Train Length

These are the train lengths.

  • A pair of three-car Class 159 trains are 156 metres long.
  • A five-car Class 802 train is 130 metres long.

So it would appear, there would be no platform length problems.

Conclusion

A tri-mode Class 802 train or AT-300 would appear to be ideal for Waterloo and Exeter.

Details of the AT-300 trains, that have been ordered by East Midlands Railway and the West Coast Partnership are not very comprehensive, but do say, the following.

  • Five-car trains will have four engines instead of three. Would they be smaller, with an added battery? Or will they use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.
  • They will have a new nose. For better aerodynamics?

, But I believe they will make extensive use of battery traction to reduce the use of diesel.

 

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Rounding Up The Class 170 Trains

In an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, more details are given of the trains that will be used by EMR Regional, which will operate the regional services of East Midlands Railway.

EMR Regional will obtain Class 170 trains from various sources.

  • Five three-car from ScotRail
  • Twenty-three two-car from West Midlands Trains
  • Ten two-car and two three-car from Govia Thameslink Railway
  • Four three-car from Govia Thameslink Railway

Note

  1. Thirty-five trains are owned by Porterbrook, with the rest owned by Eversholt.
  2. There is some work to do to bring them, all to the same standard.
  3. It looks like the fleet will end up as something like eighteen three-car trains and fourteen two-car trains.

They will be a great improvement to the trains that currently run the service.

But they could be a better improvement, if the powertrain were to be upgraded to a modern hybrid one!

Porterbrook, who own the largest proportion of these Class 170 trains, are converting some to hybrid drive, using an MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

I talk about the conversion in Looking At The Mathematics Of A Class 170 Train With An MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

So will some or all of these trains be converted?

Thst’s one for the engineers, the accountants and the environmentalists!

Are Battery Electrostars On The Way?

The article finishes with this paragraph about the Class 171 trains, that will come from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and be converted back to Class 170 trains.

GTR currently uses the ‘171s’ on the non-electrified Marshlink and Uckfield lines, and the release of these sets to EMR is contingent on their replacement with converted Electrostar EMUs with bi-mode battery capability, removing these diesel islands of operation from the otherwise all-electric GTR fleet.

So are these battery Electrostars finally on their way?

 

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 8 Comments

Bombardier And Hitachi Come Up With Similar Car Lengths

In an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, more details of the new Hitachi bi-mode trains for East Midlands Railway are given.

This is said.

The first train is required to be available for testing in December 2021 with service entry between April and December 2022.

The EMR bi-modes will be able to run at 125 mph in diesel mode, matching Meridian performance in a step-up from the capabilities of the existing Class 80x units in service with other franchises. They will have 24 metre vehicles (rather than 26 metres), a slightly different nose to the ‘800s’ and ‘802s’, and will have four diesel engines rather than three.

I will examine this extract further.

Car Length

If you look at Bombardier’s Class 720 train, the five-car trains are 122 metres long, giving a 24 metre car length.

The ten car Class 720 train is 243 metres long, which is a similar length to three Class 360 trains running as a twelve-car train and only a few metres longer than three Class 321 trains running together.

This must be good for Greater Anglia’s train renewal, as it will minimise expensive platform lengthening.

It looks to me, that two of the new EMR InterCity trains running as a pair will be of a similar length to a twelve-car formation of Class 360 trains.

Consider.

  • As trains for EMR InterCity and EMR Electrics will share platforms at some stations, platform lengthening will again be minimised.
  • If you divide 240 by 10, you usually get the same answer of 24.
  • But if 26 metre cars were to be used, a nine-car EMR bi-mode would be 234 meres long. and two five-car trains working together would be 260 metres long.
  • Twelve-car Class 700 trains are 242.6 metres long.

These points lead me to believe that 24 metre cars are a better length for the Hitachi trains as ten-car formations are the same length as twelve-car formations of many of the UK’s older multiple units.

Maximum Speed On Diesel

Consider.

  • Various places on the Internet say that the maximum speed on diesel of a Class 800 train is 118 mph.
  • Maximum speed of a train is probably more determined by the aerodynamic drag of the train, which is proportional to the square of the speed.
  • So if a Class 800 train needs 3 * 560 kW to maintain 118 mph, it will need 1885 kW or 12.2 percent more power to maintain 125 mph
  • A fourth 560 kW diesel engine will add 33.3 percent more power.

This rough calculation shows that a fourth engine will allow the train to more than  attain and hold 125 mph on the same track where a Class 800 train can hold 118 mph.

But adding a fourth engine is a bit of a crude solution.

  • It will add more dead weight to the train.
  • It will be useful when accelerating the train, but probably not necessary.
  • It will add more noise under the train. Especially, if four cars had engines underneath.
  • It could cause overheating problems, which have been reported on the current trains.

I’ll return to this later.

Aerodynamics

Power required to maintain 125 mph can be reduced in another much more subtle way; by improving the aerodynamics.

  • I have stood on a platform, as an Aventra has silently passed at speed. It is very quiet, indicating that the aerodynamics are good.
  • But then Bombardier are an aerospace company as well as a train builder.

I’ve no idea if a Bombardier Class 720 train has less aerodynamic drag, than a Hitachi Class 800 train, but I’m sure that aerodynamic wizards from Formula One could improve the aerodynamics of the average modern train.

Could better aerodynamics explain why the EMR InterCity bi-modes are stated to have a different nose?

Look at the noses on these Spanish High Speed trains, which were built by Talgo!

Are they more aerodynamic? Do they exert a higher down-force making the train more stable?

They certainly are different and they obviously work., as these are very fast trains.

Incidentally, these trains, are nicknamed pato in Spanish, which means duck in English.

Aerodynamic drag is proportional to a drag coefficient for the object and the square of the speed.

Let’s assume the following.

  • The drag coefficient for the current train is d.
  • The drag coefficient for the train with the aerodynamic nose is a.
  • The terminal velocity of the train with the aerodynamic nose is v.

If the current Class 800 train travels at 118 mph on full power of 1680 kW, what speed would the train with an improved aerodynamic nose do on the same power, for various values of a?

If the new nose gives a five percent reduction in aerodynamic drag, then a = 0.95 * d, then the maximum speed of the train will be given by this formula

d * 118 * 118 = .0.95 * d * v* v

Solving this gives a speed of 121 mph.

Completing the table, I get the following.

  • A one percent reduction in drag gives 119 mph
  • A two percent reduction in drag gives 119 mph
  • A three percent reduction in drag gives 120 mph
  • A four percent reduction in drag gives 120 mph
  • A five percent reduction in drag gives 121 mph
  • A six percent reduction in drag gives 122 mph
  • A seven percent reduction in drag gives 122 mph
  • An eight percent reduction in drag gives 123 mph
  • A nine percent reduction in drag gives 124 mph
  • A ten percent reduction in drag gives 124 mph
  • An eleven percent reduction in drag gives 125 mph

I can certainly understand why Talgo have developed the duck-like nose.

The conclusion is that if you can achieve an eleven percent reduction in drag over the current train, then with the same installed power can raise the speed from 118 mph to 125 mph.

Why Have A Fourth Engine?

If aerodynamics can make a major contribution to the increase in speed under diesel, why add a fourth engine?

  • It might be better to fit four slightly smaller engines to obtain the same power.
  • It might be better to put a pair of engines under two cars, rather than a single engine under four cars, as pairs of engines might share ancillaries like cooling systems.
  • Extra power might be needed for acceleration.
  • Four engines gives a level of redundancy, if only three are needed to power the train.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out, that Hitachi are having a major rethink in the traction department.

Will The Trains Have Regenerative Braking To Batteries?

I would be very surprised if they don’t, as it’s the only sensible way to do regenerative braking on diesel power.

Will The Trains Be Built Around An MTU Hybrid PowerPack?

This or something like it from Hitachi’s diesel engine supplier; MTU, is certainly a possibility and it would surely mean someone else is responsible for all the tricky software development.

It would give the following.

  • Regenersative braking to batteries.
  • Appropriate power.
  • Easier design and manufacture.
  • MTU would probably produce the sophisticated power control system for the train.
  • MTU could probably produce a twin-engined PowerPack

Rolls Royce MTU and Hitachi would all add to the perception of the train.

I would rate Hitachi using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks quite likely!

Would Two Pairs Of Engines Be Better?

The current formation of a five-car Class 800 train is as follows.

DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF

Note.

  1. Both driver cars are trailers.
  2. The middle three cars all have generators, that are rated at 560 kW for a Class 800 train and 700 kW for a Class 802 train.
  3. Take a trip between Paddington and Oxford and you can feel the engines underneath the floor.
  4. The engines seem to be reasonably well insulated from the passenger cabin.

The system works, but could it be improved.

If I’m right about the aerodynamic gains that could be possible, then it may be possible to cruise at 125 mph using a power of somewhere around 1,800 kW or four diesel generators of 450 kW each.

Putting a diesel generator in four cars, would mean one of the driver cars would receive an engine, which might upset the balance of the train.

But putting say two diesel generators in car 2 and car 4 could have advantages.

  • A Class 800 train has a fuel capacity of 1,300 litres, which weighs 11.06 tonnes. and is held in three tanks. Would train dynamics be better with two larger tanks in car 2 and 4?
  • Could other ancillaries like cooling systems be shared between the two engines?
  • Could a substantial battery pack be placed underneath car 3, which now has no engine and no fuel tank?
  • As the engines are smaller will they be easier to isolate from the cabin?

The only problem would be fitting two generators underneath the shorter 24 metre car.

What size of battery could be fitted in car 3?

  • According to this datasheet on the MTU web site, the engine weighs between five and six tonnes.
  • I think this weight doesn’t  include the generator and the cooling systems.
  • Removing the fuel tank would save 3.7 tonnes

I suspect that a ten tonne battery could replace the diesel engine and its support systems in car 3..

On current battery energy densities that would be a battery of around 1000 kWh.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimates that an electric  Class 801 train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.

This would give a range of almost sixty miles on battery power.

The battery would also enable.

  • Regenerative braking to batteries, which saves energy at station stops.
  • Diesel engines would not need to be run in stations or sensitive areas.
  • Battery power could be used to boost acceleration and save diesel fuel.

You can almost think of the battery as an auxiliary engine powered by electrification and regenerative braking, that can also be topped up from the diesel generators.

It should also be noted, that by the time these trains enter service, the Midland Main Line will be electrified as far as Kettering and possibly Market Harborough.

This will enable the following.

  • Trains will leave the electrification going North with a full battery.
  • As Nottingham is less than sixty miles from Kettering and the trains will certainly have regeneratinve braking, I would not be surprised to see Northbound services to Nottingham being almost zero-carbon.
  • A charging station at Nottingham would enable Southbound services to reach the electrification, thus making these services almost zero-carbon.
  • Trains would be able to travel between Derby and Chesterfield, which is only 23 miles, through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills, on battery power.
  • Corby and Melton Mowbray are just 26 miles apart, so the bi-mode trains could run a zero-carbon service to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.
  • Trains could also run between Corby and Leicester on battery power.
  • If and when the Northern end of the route is electrified between Sheffield and Clay Cross Junction ion conjunction with High Speed Two, the electrification gap between Clay Cross Junction and Market Harborough will be under seventy miles, so the trains should be able to be almost zero carbon between London and Sheffield.

It does appear that if a battery the same weight as a diesel generator, fuel tank and ancillaries is placed in the middle car, the services on the Midland Main Line will be substantially zero-carbon.

What Would Be The Size Of |The Diesel Engines?

If the battery can be considered like a fifth auxiliary engine, I would suspect that the engines could be much smaller than the 560 kWh units in a Class 800 train.

Improved aerodynamics would also reduce the power needed to maintain 125 mph.

There would also be other advantages to having smaller engines.

  • There would be less weight to accelerate and lug around.
  • The noise from smaller engines would be easier to insulate from passengers.
  • Engines could be used selectively according to the train load.
  • Engines might be less prone to overheating.

The mathematics and economics will decide the actual size of the four engines.

Earlier, I estimated that a 10-11 % decrease in the trains aerodynamic drag could enable 124-5 mph with 1680 kW.

So if this power was provided by four engines instead of three, they would be 420 kW engines.

Conclusion

The Hitachi bi-modes for East Midlands Railway will be very different trains, to their current Class 80x trains.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rock Rail Wins Again!

This article on the Railway Gazette, is entitled Abellio Orders East Midlands Inter-City Fleet.

The order can be summarised as follows.

  • The trains will be Hitachi AT-300 trains
  • There will be thirty-three bi-mode trains of five cars.
  • The trains will be 125 mph capable.
  • Unlike the similar Class 802 trains, the trains will have 24 metre long cars, instead of 26 metres.
  • They will have a slightly modified nose profile.
  • The new trains will have an extra diesel engine.
  • The new trains will cost a total of £400 million.

A few of my thoughts.

I shall constantly refer to an earlier post called Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022.

Cost Of The Trains

In the earlier post, I calculated that the five five-car AT-300 all-electric trains, ordered by First Group for London and Edinburgh services cost four million pounds per car.

Thirty-three trains at this four million pounds per car, works out at £660 million, which is sixty-five percent higher than the price Abellio is quoted as paying.

Abellio are actually paying just £2.42 million per car or forty percent less than First Group.

So are Abellio buying a cut price special?

As Abellio East Midlands Railway will be competing up against LNER’s Azumas on some journeys, I can’t see that running a second class train would be a sound commercial decision.

I am left to the conclusion, that Abellio have got a very good deal from Hitachi.

What Diesel Power Is Used?

In a five-car Class 802 train, there are three MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines, each of 700 kW , which gives a total power of 2,100 kW.

If the Abellio train needs this power, with four diesel engines, each must have 525 kW.

Not sure yet, but this could save a couple of tonnes in weight.

I doubt that Hitachi are dissatisfied with the performance of the MTU diesel engines in the current Class 800, 801 and 802 trains, as there are no media reports of any ongoing problems. So I feel that they could go with the same supplier for the trains for Abellio East Midlands Railway.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The only mention of the R-word is in this paragraph.

An RGS-compliant integrated on-train data recorder (OTDR) and juridical recording unit (JRU), and an EN-compliant energy
meter to record energy consumption and regeneration are fitted to the train.

If you search for brake in the document, you find this paragraph.

In addition to the GU, other components installed under the floor of drive cars include the traction converter, fuel tank, fire protection system, and brake system.

Note that GU stands for generator unit.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

Braking energy doesn’t appear to be re-used to power the train, but to provide hotel power for the train.

I talk about this in more detail in Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?.

In my view, it is an outdated design compared to some of those seen in the latest road vehicles and trains from other manufacturers.

This is a sentence from the Railway Gazette article.

According to Hitachi, the EMR units will be an ‘evolution’ of the AT300 design supplied to other UK operators, with 24 m long vehicles rather than 26 m, and a slightly modified nose profile.

So does that evolution include regenerative braking to batteries on the train.

This could have advantages.

  • improved acceleration and smoother braking
  • Less electricity and diesel consumption.
  • No running of diesel engines in stations.

I’m only speculating, but could the batteries or supercapacitors be under the car without a diesel engine? A balanced design might make this the middle car of the train

There must also be the possibility, that instead of using MTU diesel engines, the trains use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

Why shouldn’t Hitachi get their respected supplier to do as much of the hard work as possible?

Train Length

A five-car Class 222 train, which work the Midland Main Line now, consists of two 23.85 metre and three 22.82 metre cars. So it is 116.16 metres long.

The article says the cars in the new trains will be 24 metres long,, so a new train will be 120.0 metres long or 3.84 metres longer.

This will probably mean that there will be no need for costly and disruptive platform lengthening at a couple of stations.

Capacity

Abellio have stated that passengers like having a table and that they will be offering a catering service

So will we see most seats having a table?

Chiltern have proved it’s a philosophy that works for all stakeholders!

This means that capacity comparisons with the current trains will be difficult, as you’re comparing apples with oranges.

Hopefully, we’ll get more details soon!

Splitting And Joining

I would assume the new trains will have the ability to split and join an route like the other Hitachi trains.

This could be very useful in organising trains in the limited number of paths South of Kettering.

A ten-car train might leave St. Pancras as two five-car units running as a pair. It could split at East Midlands Parkway station and one train could go to Nottingham and the other to Derby. Coming South the two trains would join at East Midlands Parkway.

A Nose Job

I’m intrigued by the phrase “slightly different nose profile” in the extract I quoted earlier.

Have Hitachi’s champion origamists found a way of designing a train which can split and join with both an aerodynamic nose and a corridor connection?

After their experience with the Class 385 train and its curved windows, I suspect Hitachi have learned a lot. Could for instance one end of the five-car train have a Class 800-style nose and the other an improved Class 385-style front end?

Trains would mate blunt-to-blunt, so the Southern train would always point towards London and the Northern train would always point towards Sheffield.

I used to have a friend, who learned origami skills at Hiroshima in the 1950s, whilst doing National Service in the Army.

I don’t think my proposal is impossible, but I’l admit it’s unusual!

  • The blunt end might have a pair of doors, each with a flat window, thus giving the driver an uninterrupted view, when driving from that end.
  • When the trains connected the doors would open and swing forward. The gang way would unfold probably from under the cab The driver’s desk would probably fold away, as the two cabs wouldn’t be needed in a ten-car train.
  • Connect and disconnect would be totally automatic.

Effectively, two five-car trains would convert into a ten-car train.

The Number Of Trains

In my earlier post, I estimated that Abellio East Midlands Railway would buy 140 bi-mode carriages.

This works out as 35 trains, as against the thirty-three actually ordered.

This is close enough to say, that these new trains are only for main line services and will not be used on the electric services to Corby, which I estimate will be another seven 240 metre-long electric trains

A Complete Fleet Renewal

This is a paragraph from the Railway Gazette article.

Abellio UK Managing Director Dominic Booth said the new trains would ‘form the centrepiece of our ambitious plans for a complete replacement of all the trains on the East Midlands Railway’, representing ‘a more than £600m investment to really improve the region’s railway’.

When Abellio say renewal, they mean renewal.

So will Bombardier or another manufacturer receive a consolation prize of the seven high-capacity 240 metre long electric trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service?

A version of the Abellio part-owned, West Midlands Trains‘s, Class 730 train, would surely do just fine.

The Role Of Rock Rail

The trains will be leased from Rock Rail.

The Rock Rail web site gives this insight.

Rock Rail’s game changing approach to rolling stock funding has:

  • Enabled long term institutional investors to invest directly into a new sector.
  • Driven better value for government, operators and passengers.
  • Extended the market for infrastructure finance.

Rock Rail works closely with the franchise train operators and manufactures to ensure a collaborative approach to design, manufacture and acceptance of the new state of the art trains on time and to budget as well as to manage the long-term residual value and releasing risks.

It’s obviously an approach that has worked, as they have been behind three rolling stock deals at they have funded trains for Moorgate services, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway in recent months.

The Abellio East Midlands Railway makes that a fourth major fleet.

Take a few minutes to explore their web site.

Rock Rail say their backers are institutional investors. So who are these faceless institutions with deep pockets.

I have seen Standard Life Aberdeen mentioned in connection with Rock Rail. This Scottish company has £670 billion of funds under management and it is the second largest such company in Europe.

Companies like these need secure long term investments, that last thirty to forty years, so that pension and insurance funds can be invested safely to perhaps see us through retirement. I know that some of my pension is invested in a product from Standard Life Aberdeen, so perhaps I might ultimately own a couple of threads in a seat cover on a train!

As the Government now insists everybody has a pension, there is more money looking for a safe mattress!

Rock Rail allows this money to be used to purchase new trains.

Rock Rail seem to be bringing together train operators, train manufacturers and money to give train operators, their staff and passengers what they want. I seem to remember that Abellio did a lot of research in East Anglia about the train service that is needed.

Conclusion

Abellio have made a very conservative decision to buy trains from Htachi, but after my experiences of riding in Class 800, 801 and 802 trains in the last few months, it is a decision, that will satisfy everyone’s needs.

Unless of course, Hitachi make a horrendous mess of the new trains!

But the four fleets, they have introduced into the UK, have only suffered initial teething troubles and don’t seem to have any long term problems.

There are some small design faults, which hopefully will be sorted in the new trains.

  • Step-free access between train and platform.
  • The carriage of bicycles and other large luggage.

The second will be more difficult to solve as passengers seem to bring more and more with them every year.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will We See A Phase Out Of Diesel-Mechanical And Diesel-Hydraulic Multiple Units?

After writing My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, I started to think about the future of diesel multiple units.

The Class 195 trains are powered by one MTU diesel engine, with a rating of 390 kW in each car, that drives the wheels through a ZF Ecolife transmission.

It is all very Twentieth Century!

  • Power comes from one diesel engine per car.
  • There is pollution and carbon-dioxide generated outside the train.
  • Noise is generated outside and inside the train.
  • Braking energy is not captured and used to power the train, or stored for reuse.

We can do so much better than this.

The MTU Hybrid PowerPack

MTU have now developed the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

This page on the MTU web site, is a document, which describes the PowerPack.

It describes the PowerPack as the next generation of railcar drive.

It lists these benefits.

  • Saving fuel through braking energy recovery
  • Significantly reduced emissions through load point optimization
  • Optimizing travel times with the Boost Mode
  • Significant noise reduction
  • Flexible vehicle deployment and simple retrofitting

In some ways the last point is the most significant.

This is said in the document about deployment and retrofitting.

Naturally, rail vehicles with hybrid drive can also be powered
exclusively by the diesel engine. This also means great flexibility
for the operator: The trains can be deployed on both electrified
and non-electrified rail routes. In addition, upgrading to a trimodal*
power system – with an additional pantograph – is easy because
the system is already equipped with an electric motor. This gives
the operator considerable freedom with regard to deployment of
the vehicles – it‘s a big plus when they can respond flexibly in the
future to every route requirement or tender invitation.

It sounds like MTU have really done their thinking.

If you want to read more, there is this document on the Rolls-Royce web-site, which is entitled Hybrid Train Trials.

Note that Rolls-Royce are MTU’s parent company.

A Simple Trimodal Example

I will give one simple example of where the trimodal technology pf the MTU Hybrid PowerPack, could be used, to great advantage.

Southern have two routes, where they have to use diesel Class 171 trains

  • Eastbourne and Ashford International (42% electrified)
  • London Bridge and Uckfield (45% electrified)

Porterbrook are planning to fit MTU Hybrid PowerPacks to Class 170 trains, as I wrote about in Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project In The UK With MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

As the Class 171 train is very similar to the Class 170 train, I would suspect that Class 171 trains can be converted to diesel hybrids using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

It would be very useful, if they could be converted into tri-mode trains, by the addition of third-rail shoe gear.

This would mean, that the two routes run by the Class 171 trains, could be run on electricity for st least 40-45 percent of the route.

I would also think, that adding third-rail shoe gear to a diesel multiple unit, like a Class 171 train, could be easier than adding a pantograph.

When you consider that Southern have twenty Class 171 trains, with a total of fifty-six cars and conversion would therefore need fifty-six MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, this would not be a trivial order for MTU, that could bring substantial benefit to Southern.

I suspect new bi-mode or battery/electric trains would be less good value, than converting trains with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, in many applications.

Other Technologies

Already other companies and research organisations are getting involved in developing affordable solutions to convert redundant diesel multiple units into more environmentally-friendly and energy efficient trains.

We have also seen train operating companies in a wider sense, buying trains that can easily be updated to zero-carbon trains.

Benefits Of Conversion To Diesel-Hybrid

I believe that conversion to diesel hybrid trains, using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks or similar technologies,  could be advantageous in other ways, in addition to the obvious ones of less noise and pollution.

  • Train operating companies would not need to greatly change their support infrastructure.
  • Driver retraining would probably be a short conversion course.
  • More partially-electrified routes would be possible with efficient modern trains.

I also feel, that if we can convert diesel-mechanical and diesel-hydraulic trains into trains with the ability to use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification, this will open up possibilities to create new partially-electrified routes in places, where electrification is either too difficult, too expensive or is opposed by protests.

Trains That Could Be Converted

These trains are ones that can possibly be converted to diesel hybrid trains.

Turbostars

As I said earlier Porterbrook are already planning to convert some of their numerous Class 170 trains to diesel hybrid operation using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

Turbostars are a class of diesel trains.

The picture shows a Class 170 train in ScotRail livery, at Brough station, working a service for Northern.

  • They have a 100 mph top speed.
  • They come in two, three or four car sets.
  • They were built between 1996 and 2011.
  • They have a comfortable interior and passengers only complain, when say a Class 170 train is replaced by a Class 156 or even older train.
  • There are a total of 196 Turbostars in various classes.

This description from Wikip[edia, details their drive system.

Much of the design is derived from the Networker Turbo Class 165 and Class 166 trains built by British Rail Engineering Limited’s Holgate Road carriage works. Notable features shared are the aluminium alloy frame and two-speed Voith T211r hydrodynamic transmission system. The diesel engine has changed to an MTU 6R 183TD. A cardan shaft links the output of the gearbox to ZF final drives on the inner bogie of each vehicle. The engine and transmission are situated under the body; one bogie per car is powered, the other bogie unpowered.

It is simple system and well suited to replacement with the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

As I said earlier, some Turbostars run over partially-electrified routes.

I also said that two of Southern’s routes are partially-electrified with the 750 VDC third-rail system, so could we see some examples making use of this to create a trimodal version.

On the other hand fitting a pantograph for 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be difficult. Although, all  British Rail designs and their derivatives were usually designed, so they could work with every type of K electrification.

Class 165 And Class 166 Trains

The Class 165 and Class 166 trains are the predecessors of the Turbostars, and the later trains share a lot of their features.

As with all British Rail train designs, they have Japanese Knotweed in their DNA and engineers continuously find profitable ways of not sending them to the scrapyard. So they’ll be around for a few years yet!

The owner of these trains; Angel Trains has started a development project to create the Class 165 Hydrive train, which I wrote about in Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid.

Will we see another hundred or so diesel hydraulic trains in good condition converted to more environmentally-friendly diesel hybrid trains?

Class 195 And Class 196 Trains

The Class 195 and Class 196 trains are still in the process of being built and judging by my first experience of Northern’s Class 195 train, that I wrote about in My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, they would benefit from the fitting of a quieter hybrid drive, like an MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

I suspect that any follow on orders for CAF’s diesel trains could well be built as diesel hybrids.

  • The MTU Hybrid PowerPack could be used to replace the MTU engine and ZF Ecolife transmission.
  • A battery-electric transmission, perhaps even using bogies and traction motors from the Class 331 train, could be developed.

Consider.

  • Building the train around a hybrid transmission, will be probably no more difficult, than building one with a mechanical transmission.
  • The train would create less noise and pollution.
  • Hybrid trains would probably be more marketable to prospective purchasers. See Hybrid Selling.

As CAF are the only manufacturer of new diesel trains in the UK, I don’t think, they will be bothered.

Class 175 Trains

Transport for Wales have a fleet of eleven two-car and sixteen three-car Class 175 trains and they are scheduled to be replaced by a series of new trains starting in 2021.

I suspect the conversion to diesel hybrid will be possible, but even with a full interior refurbishment, will anybody have need for them, as there are already a lot of new 100 mph diesel trains on order, many of which could be delivered as diesel hybrids.

Class 180 Trains

There are fourteen five-car Class 180 trains.

They are 125 mph trains.

The fact that Hull Trains are replacing their Class 180 trains with new Class 802 trains, probably says a lot about the limitations of Class 180 trains.

Conclusion

We will be seeing a lot of hybrid trains, made by updating diesel-mechanichal and diesel-hydraulic trains.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments