The Anonymous Widower

Freightliner’s New Livery

.As I passed through Ipswich yesterday, I took these images of Freightliner’s locomotives in their new livery.

Note.

  1. Freightliner’s new depot on the town side of the Great Eastern Main Line appears to be fully open.
  2. Freightliner’s Class 90 locomotives, which they received from Greater Anglia now seem to be in the new livery.
  3. Freightliner’s Class 08 shunter is also shown in the new livery.

It also looked like up to four Class 90 locomotives were parked by Ipswich station.

This Google Map shows the tracks at the Western end of Ipswich station.

Note.

  1. The Greater Anglia Class 755 train in Platform 1 of Ipswich station.
  2. The two Freightliner Class 90 locomotives in the old green livery in the locomotive parking.
  3. I wonder, if freight trains are now changing to electric haulage after being hauled out of Felixstowe into Ipswich Yard, before continuing their onward journey.

Yesterday, by the use of Real Time Trains, I found these trains changed to electric haulage at Ipswich.

  • 0250 – 436K – Felixstowe North to Garston – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.
  • 0912 – 496K – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.
  • 0932 – 497K – Felixstowe North to Ditton
  • 1113 – 412L – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park
  • 2046 – 410M – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park
  • 2152 – 412M – Felixstowe North to Garston – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.

These are my thoughts.

Changing Locomotives At Ipswich

It seems to take about 25 minutes to change a locomotive from diesel to electric.

At Ipswich, this seems to fairly easy.

  • The freight train from Felixstowe stops in Ipswich Yard to the West of the station.
  • The diesel locomotive is detached and probably moved to the yard to the South of the station.
  • The electric locomotive is moved from by the station and attached to the train.
  • The train goes on its way using electric traction.

All locomotive movements don’t seem to be too challenging.

Could More Electric Services Be Run?

I found these paths yesterday, where services left Felixstowe and went South to London.

  • Coatbridge – 1
  • Ditton – 2
  • East Midlands Gateway – 1
  • Garston – 2
  • Hams Hall – 2
  • Lawley Street – 3
  • Trafford Park – 5
  • Wentloog – 3

This is a total of nineteen trains and currently only six are electrified between Ipswich and London.

Would Bi-Mode Locomotives Be More Efficient?

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I wrote about how GB Railfreight were planning to acquire a fleet of bi-mode locomotives.

In the related post, I said this.

I feel that, as the locomotive must fit current routes and schedules, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following specification.

  • UK loading gauge.
  • Co-Co
  • Class 90 locomotive power and operating speed on electricity of 3.7 MW and 110 mph.
  • Class 66 locomotive power and operating speed on diesel of 2.5 MW and 75 mph.
  • Ability to change between electric and diesel power at speed.
  • Ability to haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe.
  • Ability to haul passenger trains.

Stadler will have one eye on the fact, that if they get this design right, this order for up to fifty locomotives could be just the start.

These locomotives would be ideal for Felixstowe to Ditton, Garston and Trafford Park.

  • They would eliminate changing locomotives on these routes.
  • They would reduce carbon emissions and fuel usage.
  • They would be able to run at at least 100 mph on the Great Eastern and West Coast Main Lines.

They might also open up other partially electrified routes from Felixstowe via London.

Felixstowe And Wentloog

Wentloog freight terminal in South Wales.

In Movable Overhead Electrification To Decarbonise Freight, I used the Ipswich and Wentloog route to show how a long route could be decarbonised by the use of moveable electrification.

Conclusion

It looks like a philosophy is emerging to decarbonise a large proportion of freight services out of the Port of Felixstowe.

 

 

 

March 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Norfolk And Suffolk Be Powered By Offshore Wind?

This week this article on the BBC was published, which had a title of Government Pledges £100m For Sizewell Nuclear Site.

These are the first three paragraphs.

The government is putting up £100m to support the planned Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk, Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has announced.

The investment marks the latest stage in efforts to build the £20bn reactor on the east coast of England.

However, it does not commit the government to approving the project, which is still subject to negotiations.

My view of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant is that of an engineer, who used to live within thirty minutes of the Sizewell site.

  • Hinckley Point C power station, which is currently being constructed, will have a nameplate capacity of 3.26 GW.
  • Sizewell C would probably be to a similar design and capacity to Hinckley Point C.
  • Sizewell C would likely be completed between 2033-2036.
  • Sizewell B is a 1250 MW station, which has a current closing date of 2035, that could be extended to 2055.
  • East Anglia and particularly the mega Freeport East, that will develop to the South at the Ports of Felixstowe and Harwich will need more electricity.
  • One of the needs of Freeport East will be a large supply of electricity to create hydrogen for the trains, trucks, ships and cargo handling equipment.
  • Sizewell is a large site, with an excellent connection to the National Grid, that marches as a giant pair of overhead cables across the Suffolk countryside to Ipswich.

But.

  • We still haven’t developed a comprehensive strategy for the management of nuclear waste in the UK. Like paying for the care of the elderly and road pricing, it is one of those problems, that successive governments have kept kicking down the road, as it is a big vote loser.
  • I was involved writing project management software for forty years and the building of large nuclear power plants is littered with time and cost overruns.
  • There wasn’t a labour problem with the building of Sizewell B, as engineers and workers were readily available. But with the development of Freeport East, I would be very surprised if Suffolk could provide enough labour for two mega-projects after Brexit.
  • Nuclear power plants use a lot of steel and concrete. The production of these currently create a lot of carbon dioxide.
  • There is also a large number of those objecting to the building of Sizewell C. It saddened me twenty-five years ago, that most of the most strident objectors, that I met, were second home owners, with no other connection to Suffolk.

The older I get, the more my experience says, that large nuclear power plants aren’t always a good idea.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

In Is Sizewell The Ideal Site For A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?, I looked at building a fleet of small modular nuclear reactors at Sizewell, instead of Sizewell C.

I believe eight units would be needed in the fleet to produce the proposed 3.26 GW and advantages would include.

  • Less land use.
  • Less cost.
  • Less need for scarce labour.
  • Easier to finance.
  • Manufacturing modules in a factory should improve quality.
  • Electricity from the time of completion of unit 1.

But it would still be nuclear.

Wind In The Pipeline

Currently, these offshore wind farms around the East Anglian Coast are under construction, proposed or are in an exploratory phase.

  • East Anglia One – 714 MW – 2021 – Finishing Construction
  • East Anglia One North 800 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Two – 900 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Three – 1400 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Vanguard – 1800 MW – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Boreas – 1800 MW – Exploratory
  • Sheringham Shoal/Dudgeon Extension – 719 MW – Exploratory

Note.

  1. The date is the possible final commissioning date.
  2. I have no commissioning dates for the last three wind farms.
  3. The East Anglia wind farms are all part of the East Anglia Array.

These total up to 8.13 GW, which is in excess of the combined capacity of Sizewell B and the proposed Sizewell C, which is only 4.51 GW.

As it is likely, that by 2033, which is the earliest date, that Sizewell C will be completed, that the East Anglia Array will be substantially completed, I suspect that East Anglia will not run out of electricity.

But I do feel that to be sure, EdF should try hard to get the twenty year extension to Sizewell B.

The East Anglia Hub

ScottishPower Renewables are developing the East Anglia Array and this page on their web site, describes the East Anglia Hub.

This is the opening paragraph.

ScottishPower Renewables is proposing to construct its future offshore windfarms, East Anglia THREE, East Anglia TWO and East Anglia ONE North, as a new ‘East Anglia Hub’.

Note.

  1. These three wind farms will have a total capacity of 3.1 GW.
  2. East Anglia ONE is already in operation.
  3. Power is brought ashore at Bawdsey between Felixstowe and Sizewell.

I would assume that East Anglia Hub and East Anglia ONE will use the same connection.

Norfolk Boreas and Norfolk Vanguard

These two wind farms will be to the East of Great Yarmouth.

This map from Vattenfall web site, shows the position of the two wind farms.

Note.

  1. Norfolk Boreas is outlined in blue.
  2. Norfolk Vanguard is outlined in orange.
  3. I assume the grey areas are where the cables will be laid.
  4. I estimate that the two farms are about fifty miles offshore.

This second map shows the landfall between Eccles-on-Sea and Happisburgh.

Note the underground cable goes half-way across Norfolk to Necton.

Electricity And Norfolk And Suffolk

This Google Map shows Norfolk and Suffolk.

Note.

  1. The red arrow in the North-West corner marks the Bicker Fen substation that connects to the Viking Link to Denmark.
  2. The East Anglia Array  connects to the grid at Bawdsey in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. Sizewell is South of Aldeburgh in the South-East corner of the map.
  4. The only ports are Lowestoft and Yarmouth in the East and Kings Lynn in the North-West.

There are few large towns or cities and little heavy industry.

  • Electricity usage could be lower than the UK average.
  • There are three small onshore wind farms in Norfolk and none in Suffolk.
  • There is virtually no high ground suitable for pumped storage.
  • There are lots of areas, where there are very few buildings to the square mile.

As I write this at around midday on a Saturday at the end of January, 49 % of electricity in Eastern England comes from wind, 20 % from nuclear and 8 % from solar. That last figure surprised me.

I believe that the wind developments I listed earlier could provide Norfolk and Suffolk with all the electricity they need.

The Use Of Batteries

Earlier, I talked of a maximum of over 7 GW of offshore wind around the cost of Norfolk and Suffolk, but there is still clear water in the sea to be filled between the existing and planned wind farms.

Batteries will become inevitable to smooth the gaps between the electricity produced and the electricity used.

Here are a few numbers.

  • East Anglian Offshore Wind Capacity – 8 GW
  • Off-Peak Hours – Midnight to 0700.
  • Typical Capacity Factor Of A Windfarm – 20 % but improving.
  • Overnight Electricity Produced at 20 % Capacity Factor – 11.2 GWh
  • Sizewell B Output – 1.25 GW
  • Proposed Sizewell C  Output – 3.26 GW
  • Largest Electrolyser – 24 MW
  • World’s Largest Lithium-Ion Battery at Moss Landing – 3 GWh
  • Storage at Electric Mountain – 9.1 GWh
  • Storage at Cruachan Power Station – 7.1 GWh

Just putting these large numbers in a table tells me that some serious mathematical modelling will need to be performed to size the batteries that will probably be needed in East Anglia.

In the 1970s, I was involved in three calculations of a similar nature.

  • In one, I sized the vessels for a proposed polypropylene plant for ICI.
  • In another for ICI, I sized an effluent treatment system for a chemical plant, using an analogue computer.
  • I also helped program an analysis of water resources in the South of England. So if you have a water shortage in your area caused by a wrong-sized reservoir, it could be my fault.

My rough estimate is that the East Anglian battery would need to be at least a few GWh and capable of supplying up to the output of Sizewell B.

It also doesn’t have to be a single battery. One solution would probably be to calculate what size battery is needed in the various towns and cities of East Anglia, to give everyone a stable and reliable power supply.

I could see a large battery built at Sizewell and smaller batteries all over Norfolk and Suffolk.

But why stop there? We probably need appropriately-sized batteries all over the UK, with very sophisticated control systems using artificial intelligent working out, where the electricity is best stored.

Note that in this post, by batteries, I’m using that in the loosest possible way. So the smaller ones could be lithium-ion and largest ones could be based on some of the more promising technologies that are under development.

  • Highview Power have an order for a 50 MW/500 MWh battery for Chile, that I wrote about in The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery.
  • East Anglia is an area, where digging deep holes is easy and some of Gravitricity’s ideas might suit.
  • I also think that eventually someone will come up with a method of storing energy using sea cliffs.

All these developments don’t require large amounts of land.

East Anglia Needs More Heavy Consumers Of Electricity

I am certainly coming to this conclusion.

Probably, the biggest use of electricity in East Anglia is the Port of Felixstowe, which will be expanding as it becomes Freeport East in partnership with the Port of Harwich.

One other obvious use could be in large data centres.

But East Anglia has never been known for industries that use a lot of electricity, like aluminium smelting.

Conversion To Hydrogen

Although the largest current electrolyser is only 24 MW, the UK’s major electrolyser builder; ITM Power, is talking of a manufacturing capacity of 5 GW per year, so don’t rule out conversion of excess electricity into hydrogen.

Conclusion

Who needs Sizewell C?

Perhaps as a replacement for Sizewell B, but it would appear there is no pressing urgency.

 

 

January 29, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Direct Rail Services Disposes Of Heritage Locomotives

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

This is the first paragraph.

Direct Rail Services, the rail arm of Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS), has announced details of its much-anticipated plan to sell off some of its heritage fleet of locomotives and coaching stock.

The main job of Direct Rail Services is to move nuclear fuel and other cargoes around the country in support of the UK’s nuclear industry. For this purpose, they have a substantial fleet of over fifty modern Class 66, Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives, which seem to have taken over from the heritage fleet, which are now starting to be passed on to other operators.

Direct Rail Services also tend to be the odd-job men and innovators of the traction business.

  • They have provided modern motive power for both regular, charter and replacement passenger services.
  • They haul freight trains for supermarkets and others.
  • They sub-lease Class 68 locomotives to other operators.
  • Both the Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives are 100 mph-capable, which must widen their markets.
  • They have supplied locomotives for Thunderbird duties.
  • They are happy to specify a new locomotive and bring it into service, as they did with the Class 68 and Class 88.

According to Wikipedia, they have issued a tender for a further ten new-build diesel-electric locomotives.

Will these be an existing design or another new design?

This is a section of the Wikipedia entry for the Class 88 locomotive.

Akin to the Class 68, the Class 88 can achieve a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), sufficient for regular passenger operations, while operating under OHLE, it has a power output of 4,000 kW (5,400 hp). Under diesel power, provided by its 12-cylinder Caterpillar C27, it has a maximum power output of 708 kW (949 hp); however, the maximum tractive effort is available in either mode. The locomotive’s engine, which is compliant with the current EU Stage IIIB emission restrictions, has limited available power as a result of the customer’s choice to give the Class 88 comparable power to a traditional Class 20.

It almost looks like a design for all purposes.

  • It can pull a passenger train at 100 mph.
  • With the right rolling stock, it must be able to pull a freight train at 100 mph.
  • A 100 mph freight capability must be very useful on double-track electrified main lines like the East and West Coast Main Lines, where it would increase capacity.
  • It probably has enough power to drag a freight train out of the depot on to an electrified main line.
  • The locomotive would appear to be able to do anything that one of Direct Rail Services’s Class 20 locomotives can do, which would surely enable it to pick-up a nuclear flask from a remote power station.
  • But it would also be able to transport the flask back to Cumbria using electric power, where it is available.
  • In ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut, I describe how a Class 88 locomotive moved a flask from Sizewell to Crewe.
  • It is compliant with the latest emission regulations.
  • It can use regenerative braking, where the electrification can handle it.

I wonder, if Direct Rail Services are going to add a locomotive to their fleet, that is capable of bringing the longest and heaviest freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • The Felixstowe Branch is a fairly flat track.
  • The only moderately severe gradients ae either side of the Spring Road Viaduct.
  • Some electrification could be added.
  • A 100 mph freight capability would help in increasing the capacity of the Great Eastern Main Line to and from London.

The right locomotive might be able to haul smaller freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

Conclusion

There has been no news about the extra ten locomotives that Direct Rail Services will order.

The company has form in designing the right locomotive for the job they will do.

I think, that when the order is placed, it could add another type of locomotive to Direct Rail Services’s fleet.

January 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Freight On The East West Main Line

This page on the East West Main Line Partnership web site, describes their ambitions towards freight.

This is said.

The freight and logistics sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Greater use of rail for freight and logistics provides additional resilience for the business community, while also acting on the need to achieve net zero.

Whilst not part of East West Rail, removing the bottlenecks on the Felixstowe to Midlands
corridor remains an immediate strategic priority for three sub-national transport bodies (England’s Economic Heartland, Transport East and Midlands Connect wrote to the Chancellor in this regard in July 2020).

However, the design and operation of the East West Main Line should take into account and contribute to the delivery of the requirements of the national rail freight strategy. In due course Great British Railways will have a statutory duty to consider the needs of rail freight and to take those needs into account in planning the future of the rail network.

It is therefore important that the East West Main Line is designed and delivered with the capability of supporting rail freight services without the need for additional works. In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

I have my thoughts.

Cutting Carbon Emissions In The Freight Sector

The obvious way to do this, would be to electrify every line in the country and purchase a new fleet of electric freight locomotives.

But the problems with this are the expense, disruption and timescale, it would take to replace all the locomotives and put up electrification on every line that might possibly be used by freight trains and  locomotives.

A solution is needed now, not in ten years.

But there are already solutions being demonstrated or developed that will cut carbon emissions from locomotives.

  • Stadler bi-mode Class 88 locomotives are already hauling freight trains and cutting emissions by using electric power where possible. But there are only ten of these locomotives.
  • The thirty Stadler tri-mode Class 93 locomotives on order for Rail Operations Group could or well be a game-changer. It is already known, that they will be able to cruise at 100 mph using electrification, so they will be able to mix it with the expresses on the Great Eastern Main Line. I suspect that these locomotives have been designed to be able to haul freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe, by juggling the power sources.
  • In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, I describe how Clean Air Power are converting a Class 66 locomotive to run on both diesel and hydrogen. This could be a very fruitful route, especially, if the diesel-electric Class 66 locomotives could be fitted with a pantograph to use electrification where it exists.
  • I have been very impressed with the work Wabtec have done to convert a large American diesel-electric locomotive into a battery electric locomotive. I wrote about it in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh. In Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?, I concluded that it might be possible to convert Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives using Wabtec’s technology.
  • In Powered By HVO, I talk about DB Cargo’s use of HVO to cut carbon emissions.

I am also sure that there are probably other solutions to decarbonise freight locomotives under development.

I would hope that over the next few years the amount of diesel fuel used in the freight sector will decrease significantly.

Improved Freight Routes

Currently, freight trains to and from Felixstowe take one of these routes.

  1. Via London – Using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line or Gospel Oak and Barking Line, and the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Via Nuneaton – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Peterborough and Leicester before joining the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.
  3. Via Peterborough – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely and Peterborough before taking the East Coast Main Line or the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln.

The first two routes routes have capacity problems, whereas the third route has been improved by the use of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line.

Problems on the first two routes include

  • The Great Eastern Main Line is only dual-track.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London are at full capacity.
  • The route via Nuneaton does not have much electrification.

The East West Main Line will open up a new route directly across the country for some services, that currently go via the London or Nuneaton routes.

  • Felixstowe and Birmingham
  • Felixstowe and Glasgow
  • Felixstowe and Liverpool
  • Felixstowe and Manchester

These services could use the East West Main Line to connect with the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley, if the track were to be modified.

In addition services between Felixstowe and South Wales and the West Country could use the East West Main Line to Oxford and then join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot.

The East West Main Line could reduce the number of freight trains on these routes.

  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak and Barking Line
  • Peterborough and Leicester Line

The first three lines are certainly at capacity.

The Newmarket Problem

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common, I talked about previous plans of the East West Rail Consortium, who were the predecessor of the East West Main Line Partnership for the rail line between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge through Newmarket.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I have a feeling that if this plan were to be pursued, the Racing Industry in Newmarket wouldn’t be too keen on all the freight trains passing through the town.

Knowing the town and the racing industry and horses, as I do, I suspect that there will need to be serious noise mitigation measures through the town.

One would probably be a noise limit on the trains passing through, which might be very difficult for long freight trains, even if hauled by a much quieter battery-electric or hydrogen-powered locomotive.

Were the East West Main Line Partnership thinking of Newmarket, when they wrote the last sentence of the web page for freight.

In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

Newmarket is a unique town with a strong character and you shouldn’t take the town on lightly.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

Route Map Of The East West Main Line

 

 

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Route Map Of The East West Main Line

This image shows a schematic map of the East West Main Line.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of detail at the Eastern end. Is that the East Anglia influence in the Partnership?
  2. Bury St. Edmunds has been missed out. Is that the Ipswich influence in the Partnership?
  3. Of the four new stations only Winslow is not in Cambridgeshire. Is that the Cambridge influence in the Partnership?

It should also be noted that there are two links at the East, to the two ports of Freeport East; Felixstowe and Harwich.

Conclusion

This map makes a bold statement.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

October 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?

This picture shows a Freightliner Class 66 locomotive passing through Stratford with a multimodal freight train.

These are a few thoughts on converting some of the four hundred and eighty Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives.

An Estimate Of Performance Of A Battery Electric Class 66 Locomotive

In Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive, I said this about a UK-sized locomotive based on Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric technology.

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power, doing the sort of duties that Class 66 locomotives do!

So it would be able to take a multimodal container train out of the Port of Felixstowe to the electrification at Ipswich.

The Class 66 Locomotive Is Diesel-Electric

The Class 66 locomotive is a diesel-electric locomotive, where the diesel engine drives an alternator, which generates electricity, which then powers the six traction motors, which are arranged, so that there is one on each of the six axles.

This should make conversion easier, as the heavy lump of the engine and the alternator would be replaced with a large number of lithium-ion batteries.

Wabtec Has A Modular Battery System

This article on Railway Age gives a lot of detail and several pictures of the modular FLXdrive battery system.

  • Each module is a 4.9 kWh battery, that weighs 72.6 Kg.
  • Batteries are arranged into strings, which feed the traction motors.
  • There is a sophisticated control system, which ensures that a module failure doesn’t disable the locomotive.
  • The battery system is air-cooled.

I would expect that Wabtec could arrange a number of modules in the stripped out body of a Class 66 locomotive.

The FLXdrive Battery System Handles Regenerative Barking

The Railway Age article says this.

Battery charging while the FLXdrive is operating occurs through regenerative dynamic braking.

This will certainly improve efficiency.

Could A Pantograph Be Fitted To A Class 66 Locomotive?

This picture of a Class 66 locomotive was taken at Peterborough.

Note the 25 KVAC overhead electrification and the gap between the wires and the roof of the locomotive.

I don’t think it would the toughest job to design a pantograph for a Class 66 locomotive.

What Would Be The Use Of A Battery Electric Class 66 Locomotive With A Fifty Mile Range?

I believe that a surprising number of duties currently handled by Class 66 locomotives could be performed by a battery-electric Class 66 locomotive.

  • The locomotives would effectively be electric locomotives with a last fifty mile capability.
  • The number of possible duties will increase as electrification increases.
  • They would be ideal to support track maintenance activities.
  • They would be a zero-carbon locomotive with a low noise footprint.

As I said earlier, they should be able to haul a heavy intermodal train out of the Port of Felixstowe.

Would A Battery-Electric And A Diesel-Electric Class 66 Locomotive Working As A Pair Be Able to Handle The Heaviest Trains?

As the Americans and Canadians  have shown with more than one locomotive, where one is a battery-electric locomotive can reduce the carbon-emissions, the same rules must apply in the UK.

Conclusion

I am not a lover of the smelly, noisy and polluting diesel Class 66 locomotives, but it does look it could be possible to convert some into battery-electric locomotives.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wabtec convert some Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives.

I also believe, that conversion of Class 66 locomotives to battery-electric operation could be the most affordable way to help decarbonise rail freight.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 20 Comments

Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Mining company Roy Hill has ordered a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric heavy-haul freight locomotive. This will replace one the four ES44ACi diesel-electric locos used to haul its 2 700 m long iron ore trains, and is expected to reduce fuel costs and emissions by ‘double digit’ percentages while also cutting maintenance costs.

The locomotive is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. It will have a capacity of 7 MWh, an upgrade from the 2·4 MWh prototype which Wabtec and BNSF tested in revenue service in California earlier this year.

Note.

  1. It will have a 7 MWh battery.
  2. 2700 metres is 1.6 miles.

It looks to me, that the three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive are arranged as a massive hybrid locomotive and I suspect that with sophisticated control systems, those double digit cuts in fuel costs and emissions would be possible.

A couple of years ago, I took this picture near Shenfield.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

  • The Class 90 locomotive has an TDM system for multiple working.
  • The Class 66 locomotive has an AAR system for multiple working.

So does this mean that the two locomotives can’t work together, which if it does begs the question of what is happening.

  • Had the Class 66 locomotive failed and Class 90 was acting as a Thunderbird?
  • Was the Class 66 locomotive being moved from one depot to another for maintenance or repair?
  • Was it an experiment to see if the two locomotives could work together?

I sometimes think that I didn’t see this unusual formation, but then the camera doesn’t lie.

But could we learn from what Wabtec are doing for Roy Hill in Australia?

The Class 93 Locomotive

Rail Operations Group have already ordered thirty Class 93 tri-mode locomotives from Stadler, which have following power ratings.

  • Electric – 4000 kW
  • Diesel – 900 kW
  • Hybrid – 1300 kW

If this locomotive is capable of hauling the heaviest intermodal freight trains out of Felixstowe, Southampton and other ports and freight terminals, it could contribute to substantial  reductions in the diesel fuel used and emissions.

As an example, I will use a freight train between Felixstowe North Terminal and Trafford Park Euro Terminal.

  • It is a route of 280 miles.
  • I will ignore that it goes along the North London Line through North London and along the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • There is fifteen miles without electrification at the  Felixstowe end.
  • There is under three miles without electrification at the  Manchester end.

On this service , it could be as much as 94 % of diesel and emissions are saved, if the Class 93 locomotive can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe. A few miles of strategically-placed electrification at the Ipswich end would help, if required.

It must also be born in mind, that the Class 93 locomotive is a 110 mph locomotive on electric power and could probably do the following.

  • Run at 100 mph on the busy Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Run at faster speeds on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Fit in well with the 100 mph passenger trains, that run on both routes.

So not only does it save diesel and carbon emissions, but it will save time and make the freight train easier to timetable on a route with lots of 100 mph passenger trains.

The Class 93 locomotive looks like it could be a game-changer for long-distance intermodal freight, especially, if there were short sections of strategically-placed electrification, added to the electrified network.

Emissions could also be reduced further by using some for of sustainable fuel.

The picture shows a Class 66 locomotive, which is powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil  or HVO.

I can see that all diesel-powered trains and locomotives will be powered by sustainable fuels by the end of this decade.

A Wabtec Battery-Electric Locomotive

Wabtec is building a battery-electric locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

This article on Railway Age talks about Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery locomotives and describes some features of the locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

It mentions pantographs and overhead wires to charge the batteries.

  • Wabtec’s prototype battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 2.4 MWh
  • The Roy Hill battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 7 MWh

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power.

I think this locomotive could handle these routes.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster via the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln, with some form of charging at halfway.
  • Felixstowe and Nuneaton, with some extra electrification at some point between Peterborough and Leicester.
  • Oxford and Birmingham, with possibly some extra electrification in the middle.

One option for charging electrification, would surely be to electrify passing loops.

I think a battery-electric locomtive based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology could be a very useful locomotive.

Could Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive Pair-Up With A Class 66 Locomotive?

Roy Hill will use their locomotive to form a consist of three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive to obtain double-digit savings of fuel and emissions, when hauling iron-ore trains that are 1.6 miles long on a route of 214 miles.

We don’t have massive iron-ore trains like this, but we do move huge quantities of segregates and stone around the country in trains generally hauled by Class 66 locomotives.

So could a Class 66 or another suitable locomotive be paired-up with a battery-electric locomotive to make savings of fuel and emissions?

I would suggest that if it works in Australia, the technology will probably work in the UK.

The biggest problem for Wabtec is that the heavy end of the market may well be a good one for hydrogen-powered locomotives. But Wabtec are going down that route too!

Conclusion

I am convinced that the two decarbonisation routes I have outlined here are viable for the UK.

But I also feel that locomotive manufacturers will produce hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Other companies like Alstom, Siemens and Talgo will also offer innovative solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Surprisingly, the report only mentions decarbonisation once and that is when it is talking about moving the AC/DC switchover point on the West London Line to Kensington Olympia station.

This section from the report describes how dual-voltage electrically-hauled freight trains would handle the electrification on the West London Line.

Although moving the changeover to Shepherd’s Bush would eliminate the need for passenger trains to slow down or stop at North Pole Junction, electrically hauled freight trains will still need to switch power supply modes whilst moving, wherever the AC/DC interface is located.

Due to the substantial incline facing trains running northward on the WLL, which increases in severity towards the Willesden end of the route, it would be preferable for the changeover to be made as far south as possible. This would enable freight trains to slow down to switch traction before reaching the worst of the gradient, giving them a much better chance of regaining line speed once drawing power from the OLE.

Although Kensington Olympia is less than a mile to the south of Shepherd’s Bush, the intervening route section is almost entirely level, with the incline commencing just before Shepherd’s Bush station and continuing to rise sharply along the rest of the WLL. The capacity and performance benefits of relocating the changeover are therefore likely to be greater if the overhead wires are extended to Kensington Olympia, removing the risk to traffic flow that would remain if freight trains were forced to switch whilst running uphill.

This would prepare the West London Line for the transition to electric freight that will be necessary as part of the decarbonisation of the railway over the next thirty years.

Resolving the current traction changeover issues for freight as well as passenger trains would support this transition by encouraging freight operators to invest in electric locomotives to run on the orbital routes, in the confidence that this constraint has been addressed.

Where is Network Rail’s guidance?

These are a few thoughts.

How Many Of The Freight Trains Through London Could Be Electrically-Hauled?

Most freight trains are hauled by diesel Class 66 locomotives.

But that doesn’t mean that these freight trains between say Ipswich and Cardiff are electrically-hauled on what is a fully-electrified route.

There are various reasons, why they aren’t.

  • There are large fleets of cheap, nasty and polluting Class 66 locomotives.
  • There isn’t many suitable electric locomotives.
  • The routes to major ports like Felixstowe, Immingham, London Gateway and Southampton are not electrified.
  • Many busy cross-country freight routes like Ipswich and Peterborough are not fully-electrified.

But powerful bi-mode electric-locomotives, like the Class 88 locomotives, that can do many tricky trips in the UK are available. Although there are only ten of them.

I have done a quick analysis and found the following.

  • There are a good proportion of lighter weight freight trains, that are not long and heavy.
  • There are a good proportion of freight trains running over routes that are electrified with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.
  • There are also some freight services, where a dual-voltage locomotive would be needed.
  • If a locomotive had a Last-Mile capability of perhaps forty miles, a lot of services could be electric-hauled.

Network Rail should do an analysis of all freight working in the various regions of the UK, to find out what are the needs of the electrically-hauled market in the various regions of the UK.

Could There Be A London Locomotive?

I wouldn’t want to get too regional, but looking at the figures, I think the following locomotive could be developed to handle freight trains in and through London.

I’m very much of the opinion, that the UK needs a battery-electric locomotive with the following capabilities.

  • The physical size and axle loading of a Class 68 or 88 locomotive.
  • Up to 4 MW when running on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Up to 2.5 MW when running on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Up to 2 MW for 30 minutes when running on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.

Note.

  1. The axle load of a Co-Co Class 66 locomotive is 21.6 tonnes.
  2. The axle load of a Bo-Bo Class 88 locomotive is 21.5 tonnes.

But the overall weight of the Class 66 locomotive is fifty percent higher.

I believe, that a locomotive with this specification could replace the ubiquitous, cheap, smelly, polluting and carbon-emitting Class 66 locomotive on a lot of duties. Especially, in London and the South East, where there is a lot of running on tracks with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

I believe that this locomotive would be able to haul some of the heaviest trains on these routes.

  • Ipswich and the Port of Liverpool via London.
  • Ipswich and Wentloog (Cardiff) via London.
  • Ipswich and Coatbridge via London.
  • Ipswich and Birmingham via London.
  • Ipswich and Crewe via London.

These routes cry out for the ability to be able to do the last miles into Felixstowe.

Ipswich And Felixstowe On Battery Power

If the diesel engine and all the associated gubbins are removed from a Class 88 locomotive, a battery with the same weight could be fitted into the locomotive, without unduly affecting handling or axle load.

Doing rough calculations, this battery would have a capacity of at least 1 MWh.

  • This battery would be able to supply 2.5 MW for twenty-four minutes, which would be a very valuable Last-Mile capability.
  • The battery would also enable regenerative braking to the battery, which would increase the energy efficiency of the locomotive.

These capabilities may open up the possibility of battery-electric haulage of some trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • Freight trains take around 32 minutes to travel from the Great Eastern Main Line to the port.
  • Freight trains take around 36 minutes to travel from the port to the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The route is fairly level although there is the climb over Spring Road viaduct.

If necessary, the route could be electrified, between the Great Eastern Main Line and Derby Road station.

  • The climb over the viaduct would be electrified.
  • Only 21 minutes of the route would not be electrified.

I believe that, it would be possible for Stadler to design a dual-mode battery-electric locomotive that could haul most of the heaviest trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

This would effectively decarbonise a large proportion of freight traffic on the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

Third-Rail Freight

In addition, a locomotive of this class, with a third-rail capability would be able to handle the numerous freight trains on the third-rail network.

With third-rail electrification, there are always worries that it can supply enough power.

  • A Class 66 locomotive has a diesel engine generating 2.5 MW.
  • An eight-car Class 700 train is rated at 3.3 MW. These trains are seen all over South London.
  • A Class 377 train is rated between 0.8 and 1.2 MW. Pairs of these trains are seen all over South London.

It would appear that an electric Class 66-sized locomotive would only draw the same power as typical trains on the third-rail network.

So perhaps a dual-voltage electric locomotive suitable for freight through much of South London, wouldn’t leave all of South London in the dark?

Junctions Which Need Upgrading

The London Rail Freight Strategy, identifies these junctions as needing an upgrade.

Would these junctions be easier to upgrade, if the designers of the junctions, knew that many more trains using the junction were to be hauled by powerful and spritely electric-haulage?

West London Line Issues

Two of the posts covering the London Rail Freight Strategy concern the AC/DC  switchover on the West London Line.

The proposed locomotive wouldn’t care where the switchover happened, as it would use batteries to achieve a smooth switchover.

Conclusion

The UK rail network needs a go-anywhere battery-electric locomotive.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Very Long Freight Train At Camden Road Station

I took these pictures as a very long freight train passed through Camden Road station.

Note.

  1. I estimate the train had 45 positions for containers.
  2. Fourteen or fifteen were not filled.
  3. I suspect the train started in Wentloog in South Wales and was going to the Port of Felixstowe.
  4. That route is fully electrified from Wentloog to Ipswich.
  5. The journey took over eight hours.

This could be a route, where an innovative  Class 93 locomotive could be able to handle the freight train all the way across England and half of Wales.

  • Most of the way, the locomotive would be using the electrification.
  • The short distance at Wentloog and the fifteen miles at Felixstowe would be handled by the onboard diesel engine and the substantial battery.

These will be world-class zero-carbon freight trains, just by changing the motive power.

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 12 Comments

The First North American Commercial Hydrogen Ferry Is In The Works

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

The 84-passenger ferry will be called Sea Change and will operate in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is interesting about this project are some of the companies and organisations involved, who include BAe Systems, Cummins and the California Air Resources Board, who are chipping in with a $3 million grant.

I’ve said before that Cummins are making investments in hydrogen and modern, reliable and eco-friendly ferries across iconic rivers and estuaries wouldn’t harm the companies involved in their creation.

This page on the Switch Maritime gives more details of the Sea Change.

Ferries Across The Mersey

The current Mersey Ferries in Liverpool entered service in the 1960s.

These pictures shows Snowdrop, when she had been given a razzle-dazzle paint scheme by Sir Peter Blake.

Note.

  1. There is more about this colour scheme in the Wikipedia entry for Dazzle Ship (14-18 NOW).
  2. Snowdrop is much larger than the Californian ferry
  3. Mersey Ferries are different and the current pair will need to be replaced soon.

To me, hydrogen is the obvious choice for propulsion for a new ferry.

Freeport East

Freeport East is a new freeport to be built around the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe.

It will also be a hydrogen hub, as this infographic shows.

I would expect that the ferry between the two ports will be upgraded to a hydrogen one.

Conclusion

Ferries will be one of the first application of hydrogen power to ships.

 

June 5, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments