The Anonymous Widower

GTR And Porterbrook Unveil £55 million Fleet Modernisation

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Trains built just five years ago are among those set to be upgraded at Selhurst Depot as part of a £55 million fleet modernisation programme announced by Govia Thameslink Railway and leasing company Porterbrook.

The updates to Class 377 and Class 387 trains, include.

  • On-board performance monitoring and  fault diagnosis
  • Passenger information screens
  • USB/power points
  • LED lighting
  • Passenger-counting technology
  • Forward-facing CCTV cameras

I wonder, if the forward-facing cameras will be setup, so that passengers can log in to the video. It would surely, be a way of keeping kids of all ages amused.

Trains are getting more and more like computers on wheels.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains

Mark Hopwood is the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway and in Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I quote him as saying the following about the trains for the Fawley Branch Line.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Mark Hopwood is so right about using old diesels.

  • Where possible new and refurbished trains should be zero-carbon.
  • Fiesel is to be banned by 2035 in Scotland and 2040 in England and Wales.
  • Diesel trains and hydrogen trains for that matter need to refuelled.
  • Get the diagrams right and battery electric trains can be charged on existing electrification or automatic Fast Charging systems, when they turn back at terminal stations.
  • Electric trains attract passengers.
  • Battery electric trains are mouse-quiet!

Who would use anything else other than electric trains with a battery option for sections without electrification?

The Class 456 Train

These pictures show some of the twenty-four Class 456 trains, that are in South Western Railway’s fleet.

This is the specification of a Class 456 train.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph.
  • Capacity – 152 seats – Although the plate on the train says 113!
  • Built 1990-1991
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Most trains seem to be used to lengthen trains from eight to ten cars, as some of the pictures shows. As these 4+4+2 formations will be replaced with new 10-car Class 701 trains or pairs of five-car Class 701 trains, the trains will be looking for a new role.

Does this explain Mark Hopwood’s statement?

It should be noted that the Class 456 trains are members of the Mark 3 family, and bare a strong resemblance to the Class 321 train, which are shown in these pictures.

Note that I have included the side view, as it shows the amount of space under these trains.

Some Class 321 trains are being converted to Class 600 hydrogen trains, by Alstom at Widnes. Others have been given a life-extending Renatus upgrade.

Are The Driver Cars Of Class 456 and Class 321 Trains Identical?

The trains may look similar, but does the similarity go deeper?

Could Alstom Use Class 600 Hydrogen Train Technology To Create A Class 456 Train With a Battery Capability?

Consider.

  • Alstom are positioning themselves as Train Upgrade Specialists in the UK. They have already signed a near billion pound deal to upgrade and maintain Avanti West Coast’s fleet of Class 390 trains.
  • Alstom are creating the Class 600 hydrogen train from withdrawn Class 321 trains.
  • A hydrogen-powered  train is basically a battery electric train with a hydrogen tank and fuel cell to charge the batteries.
  • The Class 600 train doesn’t appear to be making fast progress and is still without an order.
  • One possible hydrogen route must surely be London Waterloo and Exeter, so I suspect Alstom are talking to South Western Railway.
  • The Class 456 trains are owned by Porterbrook, who would probably like to extend the useful life of the trains.

Could it be that the battery core and AC traction package of Alstom’s hydrogen system for the Class 600 train can turn old British Rail-era electric multiple units into battery electric multiple units with a useful range?

It is certainly a possibility and one that is also within the capability of other companies in the UK.

Could The Class 456 Trains Receive a Class 321 Renatus Interior And Traction Package?

As Class 321 and Class 456 trains were built around the same time, the two trains must share components.

These pictures show the current interior of a Class 456 train.

This is excellent for a two-car electric multiple unit, built thirty years ago! Although, the refurbishment is more recent from 2014-15.

  • Note the wheel-chair space and the copious rubbish bins.
  • I also spotted a stowed wheel-chair ramp on the train. It can be seen if you look hard in the picture than shows the wheel-chair space.
  • Some might feel that toilets should be provided.

These pictures show the interior of a Class 321 train, that has been given the Renatus upgrade.

What is not shown is the more efficient AC traction package.

I have been told or read, that the Renatus interior will be used in the conversion of a Class 321 train to an Alstom Class 600 or Breeze hydrogen train.

On the other hand, the current Class 456 interior would probably be ideal for a branch line, where one of initial aims would be to attract passengers.

Could A Class 456 Train Have a Lightweight Traction Package?

Consider.

  • The Class 456 train will access electrification that is only 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Batteries work in DC.
  • The new traction motors will work in AC, if they follow the practice in the Class 321 Renatus and the Class 600 train.
  • Regenerative braking will charge the batteries in both trains.
  • Air-conditioning and other hotel services can work in DC.

Some components needed to run from 25 KVAC like a transformer could be left out to save weight and improve acceleration.

I would suspect that a Class 456 train with batteries could use a slimmed-down traction system from the Class 600 train.

On both Class 456 and 600 trains a core system, that would power the train, might contain.

  • The traction battery or batteries.
  • The traction motors that both drive and brake the train,
  • Third-rail electrification shoes, so that the batteries could be charged in a station, as required.
  • A clever computer system, that controls the acceleration, braking and charging as required.

On the Class 600 train, there would also be the following.

  • Hydrogen tanks and fuel cells to provide an independent power source to charge the batteries.
  • A pantograph to access 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Extra electrical gear to access the electrification.

I think it would be possible to design the Class 456 train with batteries as the basic train and just add the extra  hydrogen and electrical gubbins to make it a Class 600 train.

What Battery Range And Size Would Be Needed In A Class 456 Train?

These are typical branch line lengths for South Western Railway.

  • Fawley Branch – 8 miles
  • Wareham and Swanage – 11 miles
  • Lymington Branch – 5.6 miles
  • Reading and Basingstoke – 15.5 miles

I would suspect that a range of thirty miles on battery power would be sufficient for a Class 456 train with batteries.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

So applying that formula gives battery capacity of between 180 kWh and 300 kWh.

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Scotland High Among Vivarail’s Targets for Class 230 D-Trains, where this is said.

Vivarail’s two-car battery units contains four 100 kWh lithium-ion battery rafts, each weighing 1.2 tonnes.

If 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of a rebuilt London Underground D78 Stock, then I think it is reasonable that up to 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of the proposed train.

This picture of the Driver Car of a Class 321 train, shows that there is quite a bit of space under those trains.

Are the Class 456 trains similar? This is the best picture I have got so far.

It does appear that space is similar to that under a Class 321 train.

If we assume that the Class 456 train can have the following specification.

  • Battery capacity of 200 kWh in both cars.
  • Regenerative braking to battery.
  • Power consumption of 4 kWh per vehicle mile.

I think we could be approaching a range of fifty miles on a route without too many energy-consuming stops.

Charging The Batteries

I like the Vivarail’s Fast Charge concept of using third-rail equipment to charge battery trains.

This press release from the company describes how they charge their battery electric Class 230 trains.

  • The system is patented.
  • The system uses a trickle-charged battery pack, by the side of the track to supply the power.
  • The first system worked with the London Underground 3rd and 4th rail electrification standard.

As the length of rails needed to be added at charging points is about a metre, installing a charging facility in a station, will not be the largest of projects.

Under How Does It Work?, the press release says this.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

As an electrical engineer, I’m certain the concept could be adapted to charge the batteries of a conventional third-rail train.

Vivarail’s press release says this about modification to the trains.

The train’s shoe-gear is made of ceramic carbon so it is able to withstand the heat generated during the fast charge process.

That wouldn’t be a major problem to solve.

Class 456 Train With Batteries And Class 600 Train Compared

The following sub-sections will compare the trains in various areas.

Lightweight Design

As I suspect that the basic structure of the Class 456 and Class 600 trains are similar, systems like toilets, air-conditioning, traction motors and seats will be chosen with saving weight in mind.

Every kilogram saved will mean faster acceleration.

Operating Speed

The current Class 321 train is a 100 mph train, whilst the current Class 456 train is only a 75 mph train.

I wonder if applying the modern traction package of the Class 321 Renatus to the Class 456 train could speed the shorter train up a bit?

Range Away From Electrification

Alstom have quoted ranges of hundreds of miles for the Class 600 train on one filling of hydrogen, but I can’t see the Class 456 train with batteries doing much more than fifty miles on a full charge.

But using a Fast Charge system, I can see the Class 456 train with batteries fully-charging in under ten minutes.

Fast Charge systems at Romsey and Salisbury stations would surely enable the Class 456 trains with batteries to run the hourly service over the thirty-eight mile route between the two stations.

Passenger Capacity

The current Class 456 trains have a capacity of 152 seats.

In Orders For Alstom Breeze Trains Still Expected, I said this.

The three-car Alstom Breeze is expected to have a similar capacity to a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But until I see one in the flesh, I won’t have a better figure.

If South Western Railway were wanting to replace a two-car diesel Class 158 train, they’d probably accept something like 180 seats.

Increasing Passenger Capacity

There are compatible trailer cars around from shortening Class 321 trains from four to three cars and their may be more from the creation of the Class 600 trains.

I suspect that these could be added to both Class 456 and Class 600 trains to increase capacity by fifty percent.

As a two-car train, the Class 456 train might be a bit small, but putting in a third car, which had perhaps slightly more dense seating and possibly a toilet and even more batteries could make the train anything the operator needed.

Suitability For London Waterloo and Exeter via Salisbury

This is South Western Railway’s big need for a zero emission train.

  1. It is around 170 miles
  2. Only 48 miles are electrified.
  3. It is currently worked by three-car Class 159 trains working in pairs.
  4. Class 159 trains are 90 mph trains.

I have believed for some time, that with fast charging, a battery electric train could handle this route.

But, I would feel that.

  • Class 456 trains would be too slow and too small for this route.
  • Class 600 trains would be too small for this route.

On the other hand, I believe that Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company, could be ideal for the route.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range could even be sufficient take a train between Salisbury and Exeter with a single intermediate charge at Yeovil Junction station, where the trains wait up to ten minutes anyway.

There are other reasons for using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train rather than Class 600 trains.

  • First Group have a lot of experience of running Hitachi Class 80x trains, through their various subsidiaries.
  • They could share depot facilities at Exeter.
  • No specialist facilities would be needed.
  • A five-car Class 801 with batteries would have a convenient 300 seats.
  • I suspect they could be delivered before Alstom’s Class 600 train.

As the only new infrastructure required would be Fast Charge facilities at Salisbury and Yeovil Junction stations, I feel that Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, should be a shoe-in for this route.

First Delivery

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 600 train, says introduction into traffic could be in 2024. Given, the speed with which Greater Anglia’s Class 321 trains were updated to the Renatus specification, we could see Class 456 trains with a battery capability and new interiors running well before 2024.

A Few Questions

These questions have occurred to me.

Could The Technology Be Used To Create A Class 321 Battery Electric Train?

I don’t see why not!

I believe a Class 321 battery electric train could be created with this specification.

  • Three or four cars. Remember the Class 320 train is a three-car Class 321 train.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Renatus or operator-specified interior.
  • Toilet as required.
  • Electrification as required.
  • Battery range of around sixty miles.
  • Ability to use a Fast Charge system, that can easily be installed in a terminal platform.

Trains could be tailored to suit a particular route and/or operator.

Any Other Questions?

If you have any other questions, send them in and I’ll add them to this section.

Conclusion

It does appear that if the Class 456 trains, were to be fitted with a battery capability, that they would make a very useful two-car battery electric train, with the following specification.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph. This might be a bit higher.
  • Capacity – 152 seats
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • Modern interior
  • Range of 45-50 miles on batteries.
  • Ability to charge batteries in ten minutes in a station.
  • Ability to charge batteries on any track with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

This is the sort of train, that could attract other operators, who don’t have any electrification, but want to electrify short branch lines.

 

 

 

August 12, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Future Of West Midlands Trains’s Class 350 Trains

Currently, West Midlands Trains have four sub-fleets of Class 350 trains.

  • Class 350/1 – 30 trains – Leased from Angel Trains
  • Class 350/2 – 37 trains – Leased from Porterbrook
  • Class 350/3 – 10 trains – Leased from Angel Trains
  • Class 350/4 – 10 trains –  Leased from Angel Trains

Note.

  1. All are 110 mph trains
  2. The trains are capable of being modified for 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Under Future the Wikipedia entry for Class 350 trains says this.

West Midlands Trains announced that they would be replacing all 37 of their 350/2 units for Class 350/4 units cascaded from TransPennine Express and brand new Class 730 units which both can travel up to speeds of 110 mph.

In October 2018, Porterbrook announced it was considering converting its fleet of 350/2s to Battery electric multiple units for potential future cascades to non-electrified routes.

As West Midlands Trains have ordered 45 Class 730 trains for express services, it looks like they will be expanding services on the West Coast Main Line and around the West Midlands.

But it does appear that as many as thirty-seven trains will be returned to Porterbrook.

Class 350 Trains With Batteries

I believe that if fitted with batteries, these trains would meet or be very near to Hitachi’s specification, which is given in this infographic from Hitachi.

 

Note that 90 kilometres is 56 miles.

Could West Midlands Trains Run Any Services With Class 350 Trains With Batteries?

I think there are some possibilities

  • Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury – 30 miles without electrification between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton – Charging facility needed at Shrewsbury.
  • Birmingham New Street and Hereford via Worcester – 41 miles without electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove – Charging facility needed at Hereford.
  • Leamington Spa and Nuneaton via Coventry – 19 miles without electrification – Charging on existing electrification at Coventry and Nuneaton.
  • The proposed direct Wolverhampton and Walsall service, that i wrote about in Green Light For Revived West Midlands Passenger Service.

There may also be some services added because of the development of the Midlands Rail Hub and extensions to London services,

Who Has Shown Interest In These Trains?

I can’t remember any reports in the media, about any train operator wanting to lease these trains; either without or with batteries.

Conclusion

It does all seem a bit strange to me.

  • As a passenger, I see nothing wrong with these trains.
  • They are less than twenty years old.
  • They are 110 mph trains.
  • They have 2+2 interiors, with lots of tables.
  • They could be fitted with batteries if required.

But then, all of those things could be said about Greater Anglia’s Class 379 trains.

 

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

East Midlands Railway Class 170 Trains To Get New Emissions Technology

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

These two paragraphs introduce the article.

Porterbrook has announced that it has received funding for the trial fitment of technology to reduce emissions on its fleet of Class 170 DMU trains.

The £400,000 funding will see the Class 170 ‘Turbostar’ trains, which are in operation with East Midlands Railway, fitted with Eminox SCRT technology.

The trial will be for three months, after which a decision will be made, as whether Porterbrook’s share of the over 120 Class 170 trains will be upgraded.

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

The World’s First Bi-Mode Hydrogen-Electric Train

This news page on the University of Birmingham web site is entitled HydroFLEX Secures Funding For Hydrogen-Powered Train Design.

The page is mainly about the new funding from Innovate UK, that I wrote about in First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects, but it also includes this significant paragraph.

As well as being the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train, HydroFLEX is also the world’s first bi-mode electric hydrogen train. It will be undergoing mainline testing on the UK railway in the next few weeks.

One of my disappointments in the design of the Alstom Coradia iLint, is that, it is designed as a hydrogen-power only train, where it could surely have had a pantograph fitted, for more efficient working.

Consider.

  • I suspect many hydrogen-powered trains will only be doing short distances, where electrification is not available, so daily distances under hydrogen power could be quite short.
  • In the UK, a smaller hydrogen tank would certainly ease the design problems caused by a large fuel tank.
  • There have been improvements in hydrogen storage in recent years.

The funding award to the project talks about raft production, so are the engineers, aiming to design a hydrogen power-pack on rafts, that could be fitted underneath the large fleets of retired electric multiple units, that are owned by Porterbrook.

Now that would be a game changer.

  • Porterbrook have thirty-seven Class 350 trains, that will be replaced in the next few years by new trains. The electric trains are less than a dozen years old and Porterbrook have been talking about fitting batteries to these trains and creating a battery/FLEX train. Would making these trains bi-mode hydrogen-electric trains be better?
  • Birmingham wants to open up new rail routes in the city on lines without electrification. What would be better than a hydrogen powered train, designed in the city’s premier university?
  • Routes from Birmingham to Burton-on-Trent, Hereford, Leicester, Shrewsbury, Stratford-on-Avon and Worcester would be prime candidates for the deployment of a fleet of bi-mode hydrogen-electric trains.
  • Birmingham have already asked ITM Power to build a hydrogen filling station in the city for hydrogen buses.

 

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Department for Transport and Innovate UK have announced the 25 projects which are to share £9·4m of funding under the 2020 round of the First of a Kind rail industry innovation programme.

It appears to be a longer list, than I’ve seen previously awarded.

Project 1 Train Swap From Seatfrog Ops

Seatfrog is an app, that enables passengers to quickly and remotely update their seat reservation to a different service.

It already appears to be in use with Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, GWR and LNER.

This application could have legs, as it looks a bit like eBay for First Class seats.

Project 2 Dynamic Capacity Management From Esoterix Systems Ltd

It is described as follows.

Ticketing that adjusts to travel patterns and rewards particular choices, using a monthly subscription that will help customers to save money on a large upfront fee.

Their web site doesn’t give much specific detail, as I write this.

Project 3 Next Generation Composite Poles For A 5G Enabled Railway From Hive Composites

It is descrtibed as follows.

Installation of lightweight composite poles along railways to improve wi-fi speed, consistency and connectivity.

Their web site doesn’t give more specific detail, as I write this.

Project 4 Illumin Heated Concrete Platform Coper Slabs From Sheffield Hallam University

It is described as follows.

Illuminated and heated low-energy concrete slabs for station platforms, which automatically switch on in freezing conditions to help prevent passengers from slipping on ice.

The Sheffield Hallam University doesn’t give more specific detail, as I write this.

Project 5 LAMINAR From iProov

It is described as follows.

iProov, WorldReach Software and Eurostar are to establish a walk-through ’facial biometric corridor’ at London St Pancras International to allow passengers to complete ticket checks and border exit processes without needing to come into contact with people or hardware.

There is more on the iProov web site.

I think, this could be the way to ensure safe train travel in these pandemic times.

It would certainly cut queues.

Project 6 Track-To-Train Communications To Transport for Wales From Ingram Networks

It is described as follows.

Lab-based study into cost-effective 10 Gbps+ trackside to train communications infrastructure, to be tested on an 8 km heritage railway in Leicestershire.

Their web site doesn’t give more specific detail, as I write this.

Project 7 Prototype Zero Emissions Trac Rail Transposer (TRT-e) From Unipart Rail

This is described as follows.

A zero-emissions machine which removes and replaces rails.

The Unipart Rail web site, doesn’t give more specific details as I write this

Will it be battery or hydrogen-powered?

Project 8 LoCe: Less Oil, Cleaner Exhaust From Porterbrook Leasing

This is described as follows.

£400 000 to support Porterbook, Eminox, Bosch Rexroth and DG8 in retrofitting a Bombardier Class 170 Turbostar DMUs leased to East Midlands Railway with with Eminox SCRT technology to evaluate whether this can reduce CO, particulate, hydrocarbon and NOx emissions to make mid-life diesel engines more environmentally sustainable.

There is more on Porterbrook’s web site.

Project 9 Zero Emission Rail Freight Power From Steamology Motion

This is described as follows.

Hydrogen-based steam turbine system to provide zero emission power for existing freight locomotives.

In Steam, But Not As You Know It…, I give more details of their technology.

Could Steamology Motion really be on the verge of reengining a Class 66 locomotive with a zero-carbon steam technology that uses hydrogen and oxygen as a fuel?

Project 10 Daybreak From Riding Sunbeams

This is described as follows.

A direct connection between renewable energy generation and overhead electrifcation systems.

There is more on this page on the Riding Sunbeams web site.

Project 11 Resi-Glaze From FAR-UK

This is described as follows.

Resilient glazing solution to ensure passenger safety on trains and a potential CO2 emissions saving.

I can’t find anything more about this.

Project 12 HydroFLEX Raft Production From BCRRE

This is described as follows.

£400 000 grant to support final production design and testing  by the University of Birmingham and Porterbrook of a hydrogen power pack intended to minimise the loss of passenger saloon space.

Just reading the extract, it seems that the University of Birmingham have found a solution to the big problem of hydrogen-powered trains in the UK; the small loading gauge.

Project 13 Low Environmental Impact Composite  Footbridge From Associated Utility Supplies

This is described as follows.

A footbridge made entirely from fibre reinforced polymer, which is designed to be significantly easier to install than an equivalent steel bridge to help reduce network disruption and local environmental damage.

Could their share of the £9.4 million, almost build the first footbridge?

Looking at the Associated Utility Supplies web site, amongst the wide range of equipment, that they source for various industries, where danger is ever present, there are no footbridges.

So did their expertise and that of some Network Rail engineers, all come together in a convivial meeting to produce an innovative design of footbridge?

Project 14 Integrated Optical Fibre Sensing (OptRail-PRO) From rcm2

This is described as follows.

Optic fibre sensors to monitor the condition of switches and crossings.

The rcm2 web site doesn’t give more specific details, as I write this.

Project 15 Train Axle Crack Monitoring From TAMON – Perpetuum

This is described as follows.

Using sensors and pattern-recognition technologies to identify cracks in axles, helping to reduce returns to depot.

Perpetuum seem a very capable company.

Project 16 High Speed Cryogenic Blasting For Rail Cleaning To Alleviate Low Adhesion From Sheffield University

This is described as follows.

High speed cryogenic cleaning system for tracks to prevent low adhesion and slow running of trains.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Dry ice ‘could stop leaves on line rail delays’, explains the technology.

Dry Ice Blasting is also explained on this page on the IceTech Technologies web site.

As the dry ice is carbon dioxide, will the Green Movement object?

The Wikipedia entry for dry ice blasting says this about its environmental effects.

Dry ice blasting is an environmentally responsible cleaning method. Dry ice is made of reclaimed carbon dioxide that is produced from other industrial processes, and is an approved media by the EPA, FDA and USDA. It also reduces or eliminates employee exposure to the use of chemical cleaning agents.

Compared to other media blasting methods, dry ice blasting does not create secondary waste or chemical residues as dry ice sublimates, or converts back to a gaseous state, when it hits the surface that is being cleaned. Dry ice blasting does not require clean-up of a blasting medium. The waste products, which includes just the dislodged media, can be swept up, vacuumed or washed away depending on the containment.

It appears it could be one of those processes, that when it replaces a traditional method, has more benefits than disadvantages.

Project 17 InnoTamp From Fugro

This is described as follows.

Data gathering to ensure the maintenance of optimum rail alignment.

The project is described on this page of the  Fugro web site.

Prokject 18 Thermal Radiometry For The Remote Condition Monitoring Of Railway Vehicles From Rail Innovations

This is described as follows.

Using thermal radiometry camera technology to measure temperatures of mechanical systems on moving trains, sending automatic alarms in the event of over heating.

I can’t find any more information on this project.

Project 19 Minimising Disruption Of Overhead Line Renewals Via Novel Headspan Assemblies From Associated Utility Supplies

This is described as follows.

Span wire clamping system to enable rapid, low-cost overhead line equipment headspan renewals with minimum network disruption.

This is a second project from the same company.

Project 20 Trainserv Software User Trial And Preparation For Commercialisation From Cogitaire

This is described as follows.

Integrating multiple sources of real-time data for use by rail workers to help them improve services and respond to incidents.

Cogitare seem a very capable company.

Project 21 Cleartrak On-Train Testing From Garrandale

This is described as follows.

Innovative and efficient system for processing toilet waste, reducing cost and maintenance requirements.

Ptoject 22 IRIS: Information System For Railway Station Staff From Liverpool John Moores University

This is described as follows.

An information system for frontline station staff to enhance communication and enable them to help passengers in making travel decisions and planning more effectively.

Another project from a University.

Project 23 Railway Optical Detection & Obstructions – Tunnel & Station Monitoring From Vortex IoT

This is described as follows.

Sensors and data analysis tools to detect and identify intrusion and obstructions on the track, and send real-time situational alerts to the rail control centre to prompt further investigation. 

This page on the Vortex IoT web site shows some of the technology they will use.

Project 24 Improving Resilience Through A Surface Water Flooding Decision Support System from IBA Consulting

This is described as follows.

This project seeks to develop a first of a kind surface water flood forecasting and early warning system for Network Rail using technology and data to map the surface water flood likelihood in real time, ahead of the event and forecast rainfall intensity.

I can’t find the company or this project.

Project 25 Improved Railway Operations Through Train-Mounted Water Addition From CoCatalyst

This is described as follows.

Spraying a small amount of water from the train when slippery rails are detected to improve traction and braking, and prevent subsequent services from being affected.

There’s a detailed description on this page on the Water=Trak web site.

This looks to be a simple idea, that may be significant, to stop wheel slippage.

Conclusion

The ideas are more numerous than usual and they are a very wide-ranging bunch.

In Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators, which were a similar group in 2019, that were also funded by Innovate UK, there were only five projects.

I also feel, some could have significant export opportunities.

 

 

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 11 Comments

Porterbrook: Modified Trains Have A Role To Play

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

Poterbrook are talking about reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The problem is that building a new electric train produces around 146 tonnes of CO2, whilst maintenance produces around 2-3 tonnes of CO2 annually.

  • CO2 produced in a 20 year lifetime in construction and maintenance is 196 tonnes or 9.8 tonnes per year.
  • CO2 produced in a 40 year lifetime in construction and maintenance is 246 tonnes or 6.15 tonnes per year.

So if you can prolong the useful life of a train by modifying the train at say twenty years, you could save carbon dioxide emissions.

Surely, this calculation must work for cars, earth-moving equipment and food-mixers.

The longer something lasts, the less will be the CO2 emissions per year.

 

 

April 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 6 Comments

Porterbrook Announces New Approach To Fitting New Tech To Electrostar Trains

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Porterbrook, Siemens Mobility and Bombardier have announced that they have agreed on a new approach to the fitment of ETCS technology onto existing Electrostar trains.

So what does it mean?

It appears have already had benefits in the updating of the Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express.

Hopefully, the approach will mean that all existing Bombardier and Siemens trains in the UK will have a full ETCS fit in as short time as possible.

This must open up the possibility for full digital signalling and greater capacity  on lines, that are run exclusively by new trains and recent Bombardier and Siemens products.

February 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Minister Quotes Definitive Dates For Final Northern Pacer Withdrawals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Class 142 Pacers are expected to be withdrawn by Northern by February 17 2020, with all the ‘144s’ out of service by May 17 2020, according to Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

This is a mess and a mess, where the main culprits are not those usually blamed by the unfortunate travellers; Northern Rail  and the Government.

  • Network Rail made a terrible hash of installing electrification, mainly it appears to some bad surveying, some bad management decisions and their hiring of Carillion.
  • CAF for the late delivery of Class 195 and Class 331 trains.
  • Porterbrook and their contractor for the late delivery of Class 769 trains.

There was a similar problem on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line as Bombardier were having problems with the computer systems on the Class 710 trains, which came into service several months after the electrification was finally complete.

So Bombardier put their hands up and paid for a free month’s travel on the line.

Surely, those that are responsible for the Pacers still being in service, should follow Bombardier’s  lead.

 

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Shapps Wants ‘Earlier Extinction Of Diesel Trains’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the East London and West Essex Guardian.

This is the first two paragraphs of the article.

The phasing out of diesel trains from Britain’s railways could be intensified as part of the Government’s bid to cut carbon emissions.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs he is “hugely concerned” that the current policy means diesel trains will continue to operate until 2040.

In some ways the positioning of the article in a newspaper serving East London and West Essex is a bit strange.

  • The only diesel trains in the area are freight trains, after the electrification of the Gospel Oak and Barking Line.
  • Grant Schapps constituency is Welwyn and Hatfield, which is twenty or so miles North of London.

It looks to me to be a syndicated story picked up by the paper.

But as it reports what he said to the Transport Select Committee, there is a strong chance that it is not fake news.

How Feasible Would It Be To Bring Forward The 2040 Diesel Extinction Date?

Government policy of an extinction date of 2040 was first mentioned by Jo Johnson, when he was Rail Minister in February 2018.

This article on Politics Home is entitled Rail Minister Announces Diesel Trains To Be Phased Out By 2040, gives more details about what Jo said.

Since then several developments have happened in the intervening nearly two years.

Scores Of Class 800 Trains Are In Service

Class 800 trains and their similar siblings can honestly be said to have arrived.

Currently, there appear to be over two hundred of these trains either delivered or on order.

Many have replaced diesel trains on Great Western Railway and LNER and stations like Kings Cross, Paddington and Reading are becoming over ninety percent diesel-free.

It should be noted that over half of these trains have diesel engines, so they can run on lines without electrification.

But the diesel engines are designed to be removed, to convert the trains into pure electric trains, when more electrification is installed.

Midland Main Line Upgrade

This line will be the next to be treated to the Hitachi effect, with thirsty-three of the second generation of Hitachi’s 125 mph trains.

  • The Hitachi trains will use electrification South of Melton Mowbray and diesel power to the North.
  • The trains will have a redesigned nose and I am sure, this is to make the trains more aerodynamically efficient.
  • The introduction of the trains will mean, that, all passenger trains on the Midland Main Line will be electric South of Melton Mowbray.
  • St. Pancras will become a diesel-free station.

Whether High Speed Two is built as planned or in a reduced form, I can see electrification creeping up the Midland Main Line to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield and eventually on to Leeds.

Other Main Line Routes

The Midland Main Line will have joined a group of routes, that are  run partly by diesel and partly by electricity.

  • London and Aberdeen
  • London and Bradford
  • London and Cheltenham
  • London and Harrogate
  • London and Hull
  • London and Inverness
  • London and Lincoln
  • London and Middlesbrough
  • London and Penzance via Exeter and Plymouth.
  • London and Sunderland
  • London and Swansea
  • London and Worcester and Hereford

Once the Midland Main Line is upgraded, these main routes will only be these routes that use pure diesel for passenger routes.

  • TransPennine Routes
  • Chiltern Route
  • London and Exeter via Basingstoke
  • London and Holyhead

Plans already exist from West Coast Rail to use bi-mode on the Holyhead route and the Basingstoke route could also be a bi-mode route.

TransPennine and Chiltern will need bespoke solutions.

Some Electrification Has Happened

Electrification has continued at a slow pace and these schemes have been completed or progressed.

  • Chase Line
  • Between Birmingham and Bromsgrove
  • North West England
  • Between Edinbugh, Glasgow, Alloa, Dunblane and Stirling.
  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • Between St. Pancras and Corby.
  • Crossrail

In addition London and Cardiff will soon be electrified and a lot of electrification designed by the Treasury in the past fifty years has been updated to a modern standard.

Battery Trains Have Been Developed And Orders Have Been Received Or Promised

Stadler bi-mode Class 755 trains have been delivered to Greater Anglia and these will be delivered as electric-diesel-battery trains to South Wales.

Stadler also have orders for battery-electric trains for Germany, which are a version of the Flirt called an Akku.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Stadler Flirt, this is a paragraph.

In July 2019, Schleswig-Holstein rail authority NAH.SH awarded Stadler a €600m order for 55 battery-powered Flirt Akku multiple unit trains along with maintenance for 30 years. The trains will start entering service in 2022 and replace DMUs on non-electrified routes.

55 trains at €600 million is not a small order.

Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Hitacxhi and Siemens all seem to be involved in the development of battery-electric trains.

I think, if a train operator wanted to buy a fleet of battery trains for delivery in 2023, they wouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a manmufacturer.

Quite A Few Recently-Built Electric Trains Are Being Replaced And Could Be Converted To Battery-Electric Trains

In 2015 Bombardier converted a Class 379 train, into a battery-electric demonstrator.

The project showed a lot more than battery-electric trains were possible.

  • Range could be up to fifty miles.
  • The trains could be reliable.
  • Passengers liked the concept.

Judging by the elapsed time, that Bombardier spent on the demonstrator, I would be very surprised to be told that adding batteries to a reasonably modern electric train, is the most difficult of projects.

The Class 379 trains are being replaced by by brand-new Class 745 trains and at the time of writing, no-one wants the currents fleet of thirty trains, that were only built in 2010-2011.

In addition to the Class 379 trains, the following electric trains are being replaced and could be suitable for conversion to battery-electric trains.

There also may be other trains frm Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect.

All of these trains are too good for the scrapyard and the leasing companies that own them, will want to find profitable uses for them.

Porterbrook are already looking at converting some Class 350 trains to Battery-electric operation.

Vivarail And Others Are Developing Fast Charging Systems For Trains

Battery trains are not much use, unless they can be reliably charged in a short time.

Vivarail and others are developing various systems to charge trains.

Hydrogen-Powered Trains Have Entered Service In Germany

Hydrogen-powered Alstom Coradia Lint trains are now operating in Germany.

Alstom are developing a Class 321 train powered by hydrogen for the UK.

Stadler’s Bi-Mode Class 755 Train

The Class 755 train is the other successful bi-mode train in service on UK railways.

I would be very surprised if Grant Schapps hasn’t had good reports about these trains.

They may be diesel-electric trains, but Stadler have made no secret of the fact that these trains can be battery electric.

Like the Class 800 train, the Class 755 train must now be an off-the-shelf solution to use on UK railways to avoid the need for full electrification.

Class 93 Locomotives

Stadler’s new Class 93 locomotive is a tri-mode locomotive, that is capable of running on electric, diesel or battery power.

This locomotive could be the best option for hauling freight, with a lighter carbon footprint.

As an example of the usability of this locomotive, London Gateway has around fifty freights trains per day, that use the port.

  • That is an average of two tph in and two tph out all day.
  • All trains thread their way through London using either the North London or Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  • Most trains run run substantially on electrified tracks.
  • All services seem to go to freight terminals.

With perhaps a few of miles of electrification, at some freight terminals could most, if not all services to and from London Gateway be handled by Class 93 locomotives or similar? Diesel and/or battery power would only be used to move the train into, out of and around the freight terminals.

And then there’s Felixstowe!

How much electrification would be needed on the Felixstowe Branch to enable a Class 93 locomotive to take trains into and out of Felixstowe Port?

I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing a lot of these tri-mode freight locomotives.

Heavy Freight Locomotives

One of the major uses of diesel heavy freight locomotives,, like Class 59 and Class 70 locomotives is to move cargoes like coal, biomass, stone and aggregate. Coal traffic is declining, but the others are increasing.

Other countries also use these heavy freight locomotives and like the UK, would like to see a zero-carbon replacement.

I also believe that the current diesel locomotives will become targets of politicians and environmentalists, which will increase the need for a replacement.

There could be a sizeable world-wide market, if say a company could develop a powerful low-carbon locomotive.

A Class 93 locomotive has the following power outputs.

  • 1,300 kW on hybrid power
  • 4,055 kW on electric

It also has a very useful operating speed on 110 mph on electric power.

Compare these figures with the power output of a Class 70 locomotive at 2,750 kW on diesel.

I wonder if Stadler have ideas for a locomotive design, that can give 4,000 kW on electric and 3,000 kW on diesel/battery hybrid power.

A few thoughts.

  • It might be a two-section locomotive.
  • Features and components could be borrowed from UKLight locomotives.
  • It would have a similar axle loading to the current UKLight locomotives.
  • There are 54 UKLight locomotives in service or on order for the UK.
  • Stadler will have details of all routes run by Class 59, Class 66 and Class 70 locomotives, in the UK.
  • Stadler will have the experience of certifying locomotives for the UK.

Stadler also have a reputation for innovation and being a bit different.

Conclusion

All pf the developments I have listed mean that a large selection of efficient zero carbon passenger trains are easier to procure,than they were when Jo Johnson set 2040 as the diesel extinction date.

The one area, where zero carbon operation is difficult is the heavy freight sector.

For freight to be zero-carbon, we probably need a lot more electrification and more electric locomotives.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments