This article in the International Railway Journal is entitled JR Kyushu battery EMU to enter service in October.
This is said.
JAPAN’s Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) announced on August 24 that its pre-series Dual Energy Charge Train (Dencha) battery-assisted EMU will enter revenue service on the 11km Orio – Wakamatsu section of the Chikuho Line on October 19.
The two-car 819 series set draws power from the 20 kV ac 60Hz electrification system to feed a bank of onboard batteries, which give the train a wire-free range of up to 90km.
At least it can do 11 km. This is said about the train’s manufacture.
The 819 series is based on the existing 817 series EMU and was built by Hitachi at its plant in Kudamatsu in Yamaguchi prefecture.
Note the word Hitachi!
On the Hitachi Rail Europe web site, three new trains are mentioned.
All are A-trains and on all pages, the word battery is mentioned under power supply.
So will Scotrail’s new Class 385 trains have a battery capability?
Probably not initially!
But Hitachi have obviously been doing a lot of research into battery trains and the JR Kyushu is the first practical application.
Scotland’s rail system outside Edinburgh and Glasgow is not electrified, but it is well-known that Scotland’s Government would like more electrified services and also links to places like Leven and St. Andrews.
Both of these places, and there are probably others as well, are a few miles from a main line, that is very likely to be electrified.
So could we see a battery train charged as the JR Kyushu train on a main line, serving these branch lines on battery power?
I feel that the chance of this happening is very high.
Put a charging station, like a Railbaar at the terminal station and it could be done as soon as the train is built.
I’ve never seen anybody propose a third-rail powered tram-train, but that is probably because everybody has assumed quite rightly, that you couldn’t power a tram by using third-rail electrification. It’s just too dangerous!
As battery power is used for trams in several places around Europe and the world and is becoming a proven technology, is there any reason why a battery tram-train, can’t be powered by third-rail electrification, when running as a train?
The Class 399 Tram-Train
The Class 399 tram-train is under test in Sheffield, to prove that it can run passenger services in the UK.
These tram-trains can handle either 25 KVAC or 750 VDC from overhead wiring.
Stadler, whose Valemcia factory built the Class 399 tram-trains, will also be building trains for Merseyrail’s network, which runs using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
Would it be reasonable to assume, that Stadler will be able to design an appropriate pick-up shoe for the Class 399 tram-train, so that it can run on a 750 VDC third-rail network?
A battery system would also be needed, but I believe that this will be generally offered by all tram and tram-train manufacturers, as trams and tram-trains will be running increasingly in sensitive heritage area.
Charging The Batteries
Batteries would normally be charged, when the tram-train is running on an electrified line, under power from the third-rail system.
The MetroCentro in Seville, works without catenary andhas a fast charging system at the two end stops.
There is no reason to believe that a Class 399 tram-train with batteries, couldn’t work with a fast charging station like a Railbaar.
Would A Third-Rail Tram-Train Have A Pantograph?
This would be a matter for the operator.
But there is one UK tram network; the London Tramlink in Croydon, which is surrounded by an extensive third-rail electrified network.
The ability to run on both types of 750 VDC systems might be an asset and enable new services to be created without any extra electrification, by using a small amount of battery power to change from one system to another.
Range On Third-Rail Power
The range of a Class 399 tram-train running on third-rail power, would be more limited by the train-tram’s speed of 100 kph and interaction with other services, rather than any electrification issues.
The range will probably be the same as the German cousins of the Class 399 tram-trains on the Karlsruhe Stadtbahn. These trams run on both 750 VDC and 15 KVAC, to places up to fifty kilometres from the Centre of Karlsruhe.
As a simple example, a third-rail tram-train running on the London Tramlink, could certainly use third-rail lines to access Gatwick Airport.
Range On Battery Power
In Out Of The Mouths Of Brummies, which describes an interview with those involved in the Midland Metro battery train project, I published this quote about battery trams.
Since then there has been lots of work and we’re now comfortable that battery technology has advanced sufficiently for it to be viable.
Under test conditions with plain straight track a tram could travel 20 km catenary-free. In practice, this would be rather less for a fully laden tram ascending the 9% gradient on Penfold Street. The longest catenary-free run we’ve envisaged is around 2 km, and we’re comfortable we can achieve that.
I think until Birmingham proves otherwise, 2 km. would be a sensible range for a tram or tram-train running on a full battery.
Compatibility Issues With Other Rail Vehicles And Platforms
This to me is a matter of design, but after the Sheffield tram-train trial and the analysis of platform solutions in Europe, I suspect that we’ll come up with a solution that works.
I think it is true to say, that many of our trains are badly matched to the platforms, but as this picture of a Class 378 train on the London Overground shows, the gap is becoming easier to mind.
I think too, we have an advantage over Europe, in that our loading gauge is smaller and our trains are closer in size to a modern tram or tram-train.
We are also good at innovative access solutions, as this picture from Canonbury station shows.
We may have a problem with using double-deck trains, but I believe that good design can minimise the problems of good access to both trains and tram-trains at the same platform.
The applications will be limited by battery range and by the gradients of the line.
In Southampton – A City Built For Cars, I describe how if they built their proposed Solent Metro around third-rail tram-train technology, they could transform the city.
In Could Beckenham Junction To Birkbeck Be Run Using Third-Rail Tram-Trains?, I show how third-rail tram train-technology , could be used to create more capacity at Beckenham Junction station.
In Could Third-Rail Tram-Trains Be Used To Increase Services In South London?, I show how third-rail tram-train technology, could be used to expand the London Tramlink.
In Could Third-Rail Tram-Trains Work The Epsom Downs Branch?, I show how third-rail tram-train technology, could serve the Royal Marsden Hospital.
Technically, I feel that a Class 399 tram-train capable of running on third-rail electrified lines is possible.
But it would have to run on battery power or 750 VDC overhead, when running as a tram.
When I wrote Could There Be A Battery-Powered Class 319 Flex Train?, not much information had been published on the Railbaar, but a Railbaar could be another tool to use with a Class 319 Flex train.
This is a paragraph from the advance copy I have of Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 319 Flex train.
By way of an example, Porterbrook determined that the most arduous route would be Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton, which has a steep gradient and multiple stops along its 25 mile route (8 miles of which is electrified). This analysis was included to give confidence that the Class 319 Flex would be comparable to existing Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology across a range of different routes, stopping patterns and gradients.
Elsewhere in the brochure, they say this.
A large battery option was shown to be heavy, would require a lot of space and have long recharge times.
On the other hand, they have stated that batteries could be used to augment diesel power.
Challenging Rail Lines Up Steep Gradients in the UK
Lines like the Buxton Line are not unusual in the UK. The following challenging.
- Bromsgrove to Barnt Green up the infamous Lickey Incline – non-stop
- Bolton to Blackburn up the Ribble Valley Line – 4 intermediate stops
- Blackburn to Clitheroe up the Ribble Valley Line – 3 intermediate stops
- Rose Grove to Colne up the East Lancashire Line – 5 intermediate stops
- Exeter St. Davids to Barnstaple up the Tarka Line – 10 intermediate stops
- Plymouth to Gunnislake up the Tamar Valley Line – 7 intermediate stops
- Cardiff Central to Aberdate up the Aberdare Branch of the Methyr Line – 13 intermediate stops
- Cardiff Central to Ebbw Vale Town up the Ebbw Valley Railway – 5 intermediate stops
- Cardiff Central to Merthyr Tydfil up the Merthyr Line – 13 intermediate stops
- Cardiff Central to Rhymney up the Rhymney Line – 16 intermediate stops
- Cardiff Central to Treherbert up the Rhondda Line – 16 intermediate stops
Our Victorian engineers never let a steep gradient get in the way of where they wanted to build a railway.
Could These Lines Be Electrified?
Only the Lickey Incline (1) is currently being electrified. This is a description of the incline from Wikipedia.
The Lickey Incline, south of Birmingham, is the steepest sustained main-line railway incline in Great Britain. The climb is a gradient of 1 in 37.7 (2.65% or 26.5‰ or 1.52°) for a continuous distance of two miles (3.2 km)
Youtube has a great deal of modern and historic video of the Lickey Incline. Some recent footage shows freight trains climbing the incline with the assistance of a banking engine at the rear.
I doubt if the two lines in Devon (5 and 6) will ever be electrified, The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England will never allow overhead wiring gantries to despoil the landscape along the routes, some of which is in a National Park.
If the Class 319 Flex train does a good job with the three Lancashire Lines around Blackburn (2,3 and 4), the decision to electrify will be pushed a decade or more into the future. I could certainly see, Bombardier, Stadler and perhaps a couple of other companies building a train based on the experience with a Class 319 Flex train, as a replacement.
Politicians will decide whether the Cardiff Valley Lines (7 to 11) are electrified, but I have a feeling that someone somewhere will have a better alternative to full traditional electrification.
The Cardiff Valley Lines
Consider these facts about the rail service on the Cardiff Valley Lines
- The lines are a vital lifeline to those that live in the South Wales Valleys.
- The area is not without its attraction, for those who like to be in the hills.
- Traffic on the lines varies throughout the day.
- Traffic up the Valleys is highest in the evening commuting Peak and after a big sporting event in Cardiff.
- Four-car trains are needed on the route.
- The current diesel trains are elderly and unreliable.
- There are plans to open new lines and stations and extend some of the existing lines further to the North.
But above all jobs and business and housing developments are needed in the Valleys.
An improved rail service could benefit a large number of people and interests.
The Class 319 Flex Train
The Class 319 Flex train started operational service thirty years ago as a 100 mph express commuter train running on the Thameslink route from Bedford to Brighton.
It may be a comparatively old train, but it has the following characteristics.
- It is based on the legendary Mark 3 coach, as used on the InterCity 125.
- It is four-cars.
- It is a dual-voltage train.
- Two rail-proven MAN diesels and an ABB alternator provide electric power away from electrification.
- It is a 100 mph train on an electrified main line.
- It has a speed of around 90 mph on diesel power.
- Drivers have told me, that the brakes are superb.
- It has a good reputation for reliability.
- It meets all the current disabled regulations.
But about all, like all Mark 3-based stock, it scrubs up well to any desired standard. In What Train Is This?, I showed the interior of a refurburbished thirty-year-old Class 150 train. Unrefurbished examples are typical of the stock that work the challenging lines.
Use Of A Railbaar With A Class 319 Flex Train
Porterbrook have said that the train’s electrical layout with a DC busbar connecting all xars, lends itself to adding a battery, which could be charged using the diesel power.
A typical layout of the Class 319 Flex train could be as follows.
- DTOC – A driving car with a diesel engine/alternator set underneath.
- PMOS – A motor car with a pantograph.
- TOSL – A trailer car with a toilet.
- DTOS – A driving car with a diesel engine/alternator set underneath.
I suspect that the battery would go under the TOSL.
The connection points for a Railbaar would be on the uncluttered roof of this car.
Railbaar would be a good add-on for a Class 319 Flex train, working an extension or branch line from an electrified line.
Possible Class 319 Flex Train Problems
The Class 319 train has two possible problems; the body is made of steel and the braking is not regenerative.
Despite being steel, their weight at 140 tonnes is lighter than many aluminium bodied trains, but they don’t have all the equipment like air-conditioning.
On the other hand, a similar train to a Class 319, survived the Oxshott Incident, where a 24-tonne cement mixer truck fell off a bridge onto the roof of the train.
Some Class 321 trains, which are similar to the Class 319 train, have been rebuilt with regenerative braking, so if that becomes a necessity for the Class 319 Flex train, I suspect an engineering solution is possible. Especially, as there is over a hundred Class 321 trains, which will be coming off-lease soon.
The Class 319 Flex Train And The Cardiff Valley Lines
There are eighty-six Class 319 trains, so there would be no problems finding a donor train to convert into a trial train for the Cardiff Valley Lines, if the Class 319 Flex train performs successfully on the Buxton Line.
- On the Buxton Line, trains climb 150 metres in 15 kilometres from the electrified station at Hazel Grove to Buxton.
- On the Merthyr Line, trains climb 168 metres in about 30 kilometres from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil.
So it looks like Buxton is steeper, but the Merthyr Line is longer.
I suspect that a Class 319 Flex train will go into service on a trial basis in South Wales, to test performance and customer reaction.
If nothing, it will help define the specification for the trains that can work the Cardiff Valley Lines.
Energy Needed To Raise A Train To Merthyr Tydfil
I will make these assumptions.
- Merthyr Tydfil has an altitude of 179 metres.
- Cardiff Central station has an altitude of 11 metres.
- The train must be raised 168 metres
- A Class 319 train has a weight of 140 tonnes.
- A Class 319 train has a seated capacity of 319.
- A suitable battery would weigh about 2 tonnes.
Raising an empty four-car train similar to a Class 319 train, from Cardiff Central to Merthyr Tydfil will require 23,856,000 Kg-m or 65 KwH of energy.
Assuming a full load of 319 passengers at 80 Kg a time and that adds another 4,287,360 Kg-m or 12 KwH of energy.
My calculations are very rough.
The passengers get out at the top, so they are not energy that will be regenerated on the way down.
An Electrification Scheme For The Cardiff Valley Lines
The Cardiff Valley Lines were built with the main purpose of bringing coal from the valleys to the port of Cardiff for distribution and export by ship.
Now passengers are much more important, with commuting , leisure and tourism prominent.
Coming down is never a problem and a battery electric train with good brakes could handle a full load of passengers with few problems.
Going up is the problem, as the evening peak or a big rugby match in Cardiff can result in a full train having to be hauled up the valleys.
Similar problems are encountered on all the lines in my list to a certain extent, but without seeing the figures, I suspect the Cardiff Valley Lines are some of the most challenging.
Porterbrook have said, that they are not against using batteries on a Class 319 Flex train as a boost on difficult climbs.
So I think that a Class 319 Flex train fitted with an appropriate-sized battery could be a starting point.
But there is one big problem with a Class 319 Flex train. The Class 319 trains do not have regenerative braking, which could be used to charge the batteries on the way down from the valleys.
However, the very similar Class 321 train is being fitted with regenerative braking, so a possible Class 321 Flex train could charge the batteries on the way down.
When the train arrived in Cardiff, it could attach to a Railbaar to make sure that when it left to climb up into the valleys, the batteries were fully charged.
I think that in all these ramblings, there will be a solution, where all the various technologies come together in a bespoke solution.
- Four-car train.
- Electric drive.
- 25 KVAC overhead to work electrified routes on the South Wales Main Line, at 100 mph.
- Onboard rail-proven diesel engines and alternators, which would be used accordingly and probably automatically!
- Two diesel power units would be used, so that one failure wouldn’t leave a stranded train.
- Batteries with a capacity of around 100 KwH
- Powerful regenerative braking
- Railbaars in Cardiff and other low-altitude terminal stations, could be used if diesel charging can’t be used.
- Well-driven trains to an energy efficient timetable.
Obviously, any electrification of the Cardiff ends of the routes would be welcome and less diesel-power would be needed.
Railbaar would be a good add-on for a Class 319 Flex train, working an extension or branch line from an electrified line.
A Class 319 Flex train with a battery and regenerative braking could be very useful on challenging routes like the Cardiff Valley Lines.
With these applications, strategically placed Railbaars could add to the resilience and efficiency of the system.
The bespoke solution, that I have outlined, is very close to the specification of a Class 319 Flex train with a battery and regenerative braking.
I can’t wait to ride a Class 319 Flex train on a proving run to Merthyr Tydfil.
These pictures show Southampton as I walked between Southampton Central station and the Town Quay for the ferry to Hythe.
The last few pictures are when I walked back.
This Google Map shows the layout of Southampton
Note now the city sits between the two rivers; the Itchen in the East and the Test going to the West.
Crossing the Itchen is a modern Itchen Bridge, which was built in 1977, that takes the A3025 into and out of the City.
From Woolston station, the West Coastway Line, curves Northwards and follows the East bank of the River Itchen through Bitterne station, which can be picked out at the top of the map, East of the River Itchen.
This Google Map shows Bitterne and St. Denys stations.
After going along the river for a short distance and passing Northam Depot, the line splits, as this Google Map shows.
I wrote about the upgrading of Southampton Tunnel in Boxing Clever, where I said this about how the project was performed.
I particularly liked the way that the 1847 Southampton Tunnel was made larger. Rather than use the traditional approach and closing the tunnel for two to three months, as they did when they upgraded Ipswich Tunnel, they did it a track at a time closing for only three weekends and over Christmas 2009, saving a year on the project.
It is my belief that we can save a lot of money on infrastructure projects, like roads, railways, hospitals ands schools by thinking things through with a great deal more innovation, enterprise and by borrowing good and proven ideas and methods from other countries and industries.
The Wikipedia entry for Southampton Tunnel, has a section called Tunnel Development, which says this about those works.
During the period Sunday 27 December 2009 to Sunday 3 January 2010, the tunnel closed for the track to be lowered to achieve W10 (freight container) route clearance. Previously, Hi Cube intermodal container traffic had to be carried on special low wagons with areas which could not be loaded, resulting in both traffic planning issues and lower train capacity. Additionally, all container trains were restricted to 20 mph when passing through the tunnel because of the limited clearances at the top edges of the loaded containers. Since rebuilding no speed or loading restrictions apply to the tunnel and container trains can travel at up to the line speed of 40 mph, the limit for the tunnel. The work meant containers could be transported more easily by rail from the Port of Southampton.
In some ways the Southampton Tunnel sums up the problems with the UK’s railways. The Victorian layout doesn’t really support the needs of modern transport. And especially freight transport!
The railways will have to live with the updated Southampton Tunnel, as I doubt there is an alternative route to get intermodal container traffic between Southampton Container Terminal and the rest of the UK.
will finish my East-West journey across Southampton by showing this Google Map, which shows Southampton Central station and the Docks that lie to its West.
Note Millbrook station to the North of the Docks. It doesn’t appear to be a very busy station.
I shall now return to the Itchen Bridge along the Waterfront.
Note the following can be seen on this map.
- The Itchen Bridge
- St. Mary’s Stadium
- Southampton Central station.
- Red Funnel Ferries on Town Quay
- The Ocean Terminal.
- The West Quay Shopping Centre
There are also vast areas of surface car parks.
A Metro For Southampton
Southampton is a city, where I believe that too much emphasis has been placed on access to the City by car.
But the skeleton of an urban railway is still there, as this map of the railway lines through Southampton shows.
To be fair, the chance may have been missed when the Itchen Bridge was built in 1977. I suspect thaty at that time in Germany for example, the bridge would have been future proofed for trams to be added at a later date.
But the thoughts at the time in the UK, were that trams were of the Past and not of the Present.
This Google Map, which shows the Itchen Bridge, with St. Mary’s Stadium on the West Bank and Woolston station on the East.
If you look at this map carefully, the rail corridor to the old Southampton Terminus station is still there and about two hundred metres North of the station, a train in South West trains livery can be seen. The line is obviously used for some purpose by Northam Depot.
If I look at various rail systems, I’ve seen all over the UK, it would appear that the following could be done.
Reopen The Rail Line To Southampton Terminus
The line from St. Denys station to Southampton Terminus station could be reopened with possible stations at Northam and St. Mary’s Stadium.
St. Denys is a four-platform station and it could act as a cross-platform interchange between services going to and from Southampton Terminus and Central.
Run West Coastway Services To Southampton Terminus And London Waterloo Services To Southampton Central
- The South Western Main Line is at capacity with freight and passenger services.
- The West Coastway Line is less busy.
So why not run West Coastway services to Southampton Terminus?
Remodel St. Denys Station
St. Denys is a four-platform station and it could act as a efficient cross-platform interchange .
- Platform 1 – Services from Southampton Central to London
- Platform 2 – Services to Southampton Central
- Platform 3 – All services between the West Coastway and Southampton Terminus
- By making Platform 3 bi-directional, this means that trains using the West Coastway Line don’t have to cross the main line if they terminate at Southampton Terminus.
- Travellers going West would just walk across the platform, whereas those going East would use the bridge.
- Provision would be made to allow services to go between the West Coastway Line from and Southampton Central.
- Provision would be made to allow trains to access Northam Depot.
There is probably a better layout, but by careful design and the opening up of Southampton TerminusSouthampton would be given extra capacity.
A Cross-City Tram
Every time, I’ve gone to Soiuthampton, I’ve always seemed to walk halfway across the City.
Looking at the map, there must be scope for a tram route.
This article in the Romsey Advertiser is entitled Plans for multi-million pound tram project in Romsey are being investigated.
This is said about the route.
Phase one of the “Solent Metro” network would see trams run from Eastleigh past the airport, down to a new station at Southampton St Mary’s, on to an interchange at Royal Pier, then back up to Westquay and Southampton Central railway station.
The plan also envisages the network – which could be trams or a light railway – being extended west to Romsey and from there back to Eastleigh, and eastwards to Segensworth.
Southampton certainly needs something that connects the Waterfront to the West Quay Shopping Centre and Central station, hopefully with a good connection to St. Mary’s Stadium.
My preference would be for a tram-train system, where tram-trains started at places like Bournemouth, Eastleigh, Fareham, Fawley, Lymington, Portsmouth and Romsey as trains and then went walkabout as trams in the City Centre.
At the East, the tram trains would change mode in the vicinity of the old Southampton Terminus station and proceed to St. Mary’s and St. Denys stations as third-rail electrified trains
This Google Map shows the old Southampton Terminus station, which is now a casino.
The rail line goes North to St. Mary’s Stadium, Northam Depot and St. Denys station. To the South it goes as far as the Waterfront, where it finishes just to the East of the Ocean Terminal.
In the West they would need to join the South Western Main Line in the area of Southampton Central station.
The Google Map shows the area.
I’m sure that a more than adequate connection could be arranged after what I have seen in places like Karlsruhe.
There would of course be only one way for the the tram-trains to cross between Southampton Terminal and Southampton Central stations and that would be on battery power. I’m certain if Birmingham do it across a City with much more of a gradient, as they intend, then Southampton could do it across the Waterfront.
Serving The Cruise Ships
The plan from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership detailed in the Romsey Advertiser mentions running the trams or light rail service to the Royal Pier, where they would reverse.
This Google Map shows the Ocean Terminal, with a handy cruise ship alongside.
Note how the rail line that runs down behind St. Mary’s stadium continues to the dockside, just to the East of the Ocean Terminal.
If tram-trains were working the routes around Southampton, they could all terminate by the Ocean Terminal and thus give cruise passengers access to tourist attractions like Bournemouth, The New Forest and Portsmouth, in addition to the whole of Southampton City Centre.
I’m sure those clever engineers from Stadler can come up with a third-rail version of a Class 399 tram-train, that had enough battery power to traverse across Southampton. Especially, if a charge station like a Railbaar was installed at the Ocean Terminal to charge waiting tram-trains.
The possibilities at Southampton to improve public transport in the City are endless.
In January 2016, I wrote How To Charge A Battery Train, in which I described a Swiss idea called Railbaar.
This article in Rail Engineer is entitled RailBaar – Rapid Charge Station and it describes the technology in detail.
The article gives the impression, that respected Swiss company; Furrer+Frey, have a product that is ready to be rolled out.
This is said.
Furrer+Frey feels that the system could be a game changer, dramatically reducing the cost of electrification, and thus the feasibility of new electrification projects.
Read the article and see if like me, you agree with Furrer+Frey, like I do.
The Felixstowe Branch Line
I will use the twelve mile long Felixstowe Branch Line as an example, because I know the branch line well and spent some miserable days trapped in the town as a teenager because of the inadequate rail service to Ipswich.
The train service is better now, but it would be better if every thirty minutes one of Greater Anglia’s new Aventras was to shuttle along the branch.
But the line is not electrified and there is very little change it will happen.
Bombardier showed with their Class 379 BEMU trials in January 2015, that a four-car and probably a five-car version of the Avenytra could be fitted with a battery that would take the train reliably between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
But the problem with say electrifying a platform at Ipswich station and charging the train there, is that the battery needs to be sized to do two trips along the branch line.
By using a charging station like Railbaar at both ends of the line, the train would always leave the station with a full charge.
Currently, trains between Felixstowe and Ipswich take 26 minutes, so if the battery could be charged in four minutes, then a train could do a return trip in an hour.
This would mean that two trains would be needed to provide a two trains per hour service.
Sudbury And Colchester Town
They could run this service with bi-mode Stadler Flirts.
On the other hand, the Gainsborough Line between Marks Tey and Sudbury is only eleven miles long, which is well within the range of a train running on stored energy.
It currently takes nineteen minutes for a train to go between Marks Tey and Sudbury, so a battery train would have twenty-two minutes in every hour for charging.
Operation could be as follows.
- 10:00 Leave Colchester Town running on current electrification.
- 10:08 Call Colchester station.
- 10:16 Arrive Marks Tey station with a full battery, after charging it on the main line.
- 10:35 Arrive Sudbury station after running from Marks Tey on battery power.
- 10:40 Leave Sudbury station after charging the batteries using a Railbaar.
- 11:59 Arrive Marks Tey station after running from Sudbury on battery power.
- 11:02 Leave Marks Tey station, raise the pantograph and travel to Colchester.
- 11:10 Call Colchester station.
- 11:18 Arrive back at Colchester Town station.
- The trains pass each other on the main line.
- I have used the times for the current trains.
- Only one Railbaar would be needed at Sudbury.
,Perhaps Aventras and with a faster charge at Sudbury could save a few minutes.
Aventras And Railbaar
The Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.
This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.
AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.
This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have improved the concept.
So in a battery version of the Aventra would this mean that the pantograph is on the car with the high-efficiency transformer and the battery is in the second car?
So if the train is going to work with Railbaars, then the contact points on the roof of the train for the Railbaar would be on the car with the batteries.
All of the 25 KVAC and its handling is in one car and all the batteries and their charging is in another, with the only connection being the common power bus connecting everything on the train.
I suspect that with careful positioning of the Railbaar at each end of the route and an aid for the driver so that the train is positioned accurately and it would create a reliable charging system.
Obviously, there is nothing to stop, the trains charging their batteries, when they are using overhead wires or third rails.
So what do we know about using batteries on trains to work routes?
- Bombardier showed in their trial, that a battery train can run the eleven miles of the Mayflower Line, starting with a full battery.
- Batteries are getting more powerful and more affordable every year.
- The Bombardier Aventra would be ideal for a Railbaar-type charging system.
- Battery trains can charge their batteries running on electrified lines.
- The bus version of Railbaar is in use charging electric Volvo buses at a rate of 360 kW. See the Opbrid web site.
- The physics of steel wheel on steel rail is efficient, as George Stephenson knew.
Put this all together and I think that by the end of 2018, we’ll be seeing Aventra trains, running services on a twenty mile branch line without electrificaton.
The Fawley Branch Line is a freight-only branch line alongside Southampton Water in Hampshire.
Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Line, this is said.
On 16 June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies announced it was looking into the reopening of the railway as far as Hythe, with a possibility of a further extension to Fawley if agreement could be reached with Esso, which owns the land where Fawley railway station once stood.
A lot more detail is also given, which has these major points.
- Reopening of all former stations along the line.
- A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
- A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.
- Hourly train service.
- Possible future electrification
The section to be reopened would be about seven miles in length.
This Google Map shows the area of the branch line.
It starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hsardley and Fawley.
A Class 319 Flex train could use electric power on the main line and diesel power on the branch.
Battery trains like an Aventra with onboard energy storage, could use electric power on the main line, where they would also charge the batteries. Batteries would then be used on the branch, with a possible top-up charge from something like a Railbaar at Hythe station.
A Trip To Hythe
To look at the Fawley Branch Line, whilst I was in Southampton, I took a trip on the ferry to Hythe and had a look round.
The Fawley Branch Line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.
This Google Map shows Hythe.
The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.
I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.
The Design Of The Line
This picture shows where the Fawley Branch Line joins the main line.
It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.
The quoted route from Fawley or Hythe via Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford to Romsey is only electrified between Totton and Eastleigh, as the Fawley Branch Line and the Eastleigh to Romsey Line are not electrified.
But it is an interesting route, as one of its effects will be to double the frequency of services between Eastleigh and Romsey, where it is probably needed to serve new housing.
I reckon that it would take about forty-five minutes to go from Fawley to Romsey or vice-versa.
It would also be a route for using some form of train with new technology.
- A bi-mode train able to use third-rail electrification would be a possibility.
- A Class 319 Flex train would manage the route with ease.
- Perhaps, a battery train based on a third-rail multiple unit could make the route.
The battery train could be very suitable for the route, as an hourly service would need two trains, which would have around fifteen minutes to charge their batteries at either end of the route.
Currently, the project is on hold, but given the location, where some very nice waterfront housing might be built, circumstances could change.