The Anonymous Widower

How Many Welshmen And Welshwomen Can You Fit In A Million Pound Park-And-Ride?

This article on Insider Media, which is entitled Work On £1m Park-And-Ride Site Completes.

The Park-and-Ride facility is at Abercynon station, which is the station, where the Merthyr Line splits into two branches to Metryr Tydfil and Aberdate stations.

  • The facility has 310 parking spaces.
  • It has been built in six months after a November start.
  • Bus access will be provided at the original car park.
  • I hope they’ve increased cycle capacity for the Geraint Thomas effect.

My only worry is that with eight trains per hour to start between Abercynon and Cardiff in 2023, will the facility be big enough?

Economics

This is obviously and a much-needed scheme and each parking space has cost around £3,000. If on 250 working days, each generate around five pounds in revenue, that must mean that the car park should be viable.

Conclusion

If this Park-and-Ride facility has been built so quickly and should be viable, why is it that so few similar parking schemes are proposed for railway stations?

Especially, where at Abercynon station, there will be a massive improvement in capacity and quality of the train service.

  • A doubling of frequency
  • Faster, electric tram-trains.
  • Trains that can hold more passengers.

How many other stations are getting this improvement?

as to finance, I think this could be the sort of investment, infrastructure funds, run by the like of L & G and Aviva will be looking at..

  • Not a large investment.
  • Could be constructed to n efficient design.
  • Guaranteed return.

But in the future, when electric vehicles make up say half of all those on the road, it could become a large energy supply and storage facility.

April 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cardiff Parkway Station: Work To Start In 2020

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Work to build a new £30m railway station on the outskirts of Cardiff is expected to start in 2020, after receiving Welsh Government backing.

The station in St Mellons will serve up to 32,000 residents, linking them to Swansea, Cardiff, London, Bristol and Birmingham and the South Wales Metro.

Cardiff Parkway station will be between Cardiff Central and Newport stations and it will be close to the existing St. Mellons Business Park.

It is planned to open in 2022.

Nothing is said about services at the station, but there currently appears to be about six trains per hour (tph) between Cardiff Central and Newport, serving places like Birmingham, London, Manchester and Nottingham, in addition to places in South Wales.

Many if not all, of the trains calling at the station, when it opens will be modern trains, designed to execute fast station stops, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a frequency of at least six tph between the new station and both Cardiff Central and Newport stations.

  • Two tph – Cardiff and London Paddington
  • Two tph – Cardiff and Ebbw Vale Town
  • One tph – Cardiff and Nottingham
  • One tph – Cardiff and Manchester

This looks to me to be the sort of station development that should be copied elsewhere in the country.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Merseyrail’s Battery Intentions

In New Merseyrail Fleet A Platform For Future Innovations, I quoted from  this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

The article mainly is an interview with David Powell, who is programme director of rolling stock at Merseytravel.

This is a direct quote from the article.

We will be exploring, with Stadler, what the options are for having the trains becoming self-powered. This isn’t the bi-modes that lots of other people are talking about in the industry; this is on-board electrical storage.

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail links to this document, which puts a lot more flesh on Merseyrail’s intentions for battery trains.

It outlines strategies for the following routes.

Ellesmere Port And Helsby

The document says this.

There is a reasonable business case for extending the Merseyrail service through to Helsby.
However this is likely to be best served by the use of Merseyrail battery powered enabled
services. This will be tested on the new units in 2020.

According to Wikipedia, the sixth Class 777 train to be delivered will be fitted with batteries.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Central and Ellesmere Port stations is as follows.

  • A train every thirty minutes.
  • Trains take eighty-five minutes to do the round trip from Ellesmere Port round the Wirral Loop under Liverpool and back to Ellesmere Port.
  • There are thirty-one stops on the route.
  • There is a five minute turnround at Ellesmere Port station.

Two trains are needed to run the service.

The Current Class 507/508 trains and the future Class 777 trains both have the same operating speed, but there are performance differences.

  • The British Rail trains have 656 kW of power per train, whereas every new Stadler train will have 2,100 kW. The speed may be the same, but the acceleration will be much greater if needed and and the regenerative braking should be powerful and smoothly controlled.
  • Loading and unloading of passengers with their increasing levels of extras will be much faster due to the hollistic design of the trains and the platforms.

It would not be unrealistic to see around a minute saved at every stop.

The extended service between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations is not much extra distance and time.

  • Just over five miles each way.
  • About thirteen minutes each way , based on existing services on the route.

So if the terminus were to be moved to Helsby, when the new trains are in service, the time savings between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool should cover the extra distance.

It should also be noted about Helsby station.

  • It has four platforms and could probably handle four trains per hour (tph).
  • A platform with a charging station could be created.
  • It has a wide selection of services including Chester, Llandudno, Manchester and Warrington.

To my mind, Liverpool to Helsby would be an ideal route for a battery electric train.

Ormskirk-Preston Enhancements

The document says this.

This incorporates both electrification from Ormskirk through to Preston and the potential
reintroduction one or both of the Burscough Curves. In view of the deferral of electrification
proposals, and the relative low ranking of the electrification proposal in the Northern Sparks
report, it is unlikely that the electrification proposal is expected to be taken forward in the
near future. In addition to this, the business case for extending electrification to Burscough,
and the introduction of the southern Burscough Curve, is poor. The potential use of battery
powered Merseyrail units may improve the business case for both proposals. This will be
reviewed after the Merseyrail units have been tested for battery operation in 2020.

Currently, the service between Ormskirk and Preston stations is as follows.

  • A train every hour.
  • Trains take around thirty minutes to go between the two terminal stations.
  • The route is fifteen and a half miles long.
  • There are three stops on the route.
  • There is a long turnround in a bay platform at Preston station.

At the present time, the service seems rather erratic, with some services replaced by buses and long connection times at Ormskirk.

The service between Liverpool Central and Ormskirk stations takes thirty-five minutes with eleven stops and is generally every fifteen minutes, with a half-hourly service in the evening and at weekends.

If a Class 777 train could use battery power, I estimate it could run between Liverpool Central and Preston stations within an hour.

This would surely open up the possibility of a new service between Liverpool and Preston.

  • It would take only a few minutes longer than the fifty-one minutes of a direct train between Liverpool Lime Street and Preston stations.
  • It would connect a lot of stations to West Coast Main Line at Preston.
  • It would link the major sporting venues of Aintree, Anfield and Goodison or Everton’s new ground to the North.
  • At the Southern end, it could connect to Liverpool Airport.

The Class 777 trains would need to be able to do about thirty miles on battery power and if required, the technology exists to either top up the batteries at Preston or use a pantograph to access the overhead wires of the West Coast Main Line.

At the present time, the Ormskirk Branch Line between Ormskirk and Preston stations is only single track and probably needs resignalling, but I suspect that a four tph service could be run between Liverpool and Ormskirk, with two tph extended to Preston.

Extra track work, North of Ormskirk and the reinstatement of the Burscough curves would allow.

  • Four tph between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Liverpool and Southport via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Preston and Southport.

There is even the possibility of extending Liverpool and Preston services to Blackpool South station, if they used the overhead electrification through Preston to charge the batteries.

Borderlands Development

The document says this.

While the aspiration is to fully electrify the line, and incorporate it into the Merseyrail
network, this is very much a long term aspiration. In the interim period the aim is to develop
the line through the introduction of an improved diesel service. Merseytravel will work
closely with relevant cross-border organisations such as Growth Track 360 to bring this
about. There are a number of new station proposals for the line, the principal being a new
station close to the Deeside Industrial Park, which would improve the ability of the
workforce to access the site via public transport.

The Borderlands Line provides a service between Liverpool and Wrexham Central station with a change at Bidston station.

  • The twenty-seven miles between Wrexham Central and Bidston are not electrified.
  • The line is double-track throughout.
  • There are twelve stations on the line.
  • The service is hourly, but probably needs to be at least half-hourly.
  • The service takes about an hour between Wrexham and Bidston stations.

Using Class 777 trains on the route, using battery power between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations would enable.

  • A direct service, that terminated in the Wirral Loop under Liverpool.
  • An increased capacity at Bidston station.
  • A faster service.

I estimate that a time of perhaps seventy to eighty minutes between Liverpool Central and Wrexham Central stations will be possible.

There would be very little infrastructure work, except for new stations and the possible ability to top up batteries at Wrexham Central.

I suspect that political problems, rather than any railway ones will be larger.

Bootle Branch Electrification

The document says this.

A long term proposal which will need to be considered alongside the developing freight
strategy for the region and the expansion of the Port of Liverpool. The proposal envisages
the introduction of passenger services which will operate from the Bootle Branch into Lime
Street. An initial study is required to understand fully the freight requirements for the line
and what the realistic potential for operating passenger services over the line is.

The Bootle Branch is known as the Canada Dock Branch in Wikipedia.

Class 777 trains with a battery capability and the ability to use the overhead electrification into Liverpool Lime Street would be able to serve this route, without the need for electrification.

Obviously, if for freight efficiency, the route was electrified, the trains could use it as needed.

North Mersey Branch

The document says this.

A long term proposal; this envisages a new service operating from Ormskirk via Bootle into
Liverpool. It was reviewed as part of the Merseyrail Route Utilisation Strategy in 2009 which
identified a poor business case.

I can’t identify the actual route, but there are various rail alignments into and through the Docks.

Skelmersdale

The document says this.

Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to
develop the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale. This work is expected
to be completed in 2019. Further development work will be required before this project is
implemented. While 3rd rail electrification is being considered currently, alternatives will be
considered later in the development process. A new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the
Northwood area of Kirkby is an integral part of this proposal. The potential to extend the
network further through to Wigan will need to be developed separately.

I wrote about this plan in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link.

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive expansion strategy, where much of the work to create the various extensions is performed by adding equipment to the trains in factories or depots, rather than by the disruptive installation of electrification.

It looks very much like a case of Have Swiss Train Will Travel.

But then, I think the London Overground is using a similar strategy to expand in partnership with Bombardier.

Other networks like the Tyne & Wear Metro and those in cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds will be using similar philosophies.

Cardiff has already decided and Stadler are building the trains for the South Wales Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cost Of Widening The Last Section Of The A465 Will Be More Than The Entire South Wales Metro

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

The article is a good example of comparing costs between road and rail and is well worth a read.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Cost Studies Could See Electrification Comback

The title of this post is the same as that of an article by Roger Ford in the September 2018 Edition of Modern Railways

There are now two studies into the cost of railway electrification.

Both arudies expected to be completed in October.

The article gives some examples of electrification costs per single track kilometre (stkm).

  • A sustained rolling program – £1million/stkm
  • Great Western Main Line – £3million/stkm
  • Northern England – Below £2million/stkm.
  • Cumbernauld-Springburn – £1.2million/stkm
  • East Coast Main Line – £500,000/stkm (At current prices)

The article finishes with these words.

£1million/stkm would be a feasible target.

That the Department for Transport has commissioned the independent review suggests electrification could still be on the agenda.

Roger is very much a respected commentator and his conclusions are more likely to be spot on, than wide of the mark.

Does Running Electric Trains On A Route Count As Electrification?

I ask this question deliberately, as over the last few years several schemes have been proposed to electrify perhaps two miles of line to a new development or city or town centre.

The Midland Metro is being extended to Wolverhampton station by building a tram line, that will be run using battery power on the existing trams.

Another example of this type of line is the extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside. After reading all the documentation, I have found that electric trains are mentioned several times, but electrification is not. As Bombardier Aventras probably can run on battery power, does this mean that the extension will be built without wires?

There are also some electrified branch lines, where the overhead electrification is unadulterated crap.

Could we see the electrification on these branches removed to save on replacement and maintenance costs and the trains replaced by battery trains charged on the electrified main lines?

Recent Developments

I think various developments of recent years will help in the containing of electrification costs.

Batteries On Trains

It is my belief that batteries on trains could revolutionise the approach to electrification.

In my view, batteries are the only way to handle regenerative braking, which cuts energy costs.

This means, that if no trains using a route, return their braking energy through the electrification, then costs are saved by using simpler transformers.

Adequate battery capacity also gives other advantages.

  • Bombardier are fitting remote wake-up to Aventras. I wrote about this in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?
  • Depots and sidings can be built with only limited electrification.
  • Hitachi use batteries charged by regenerative braking to provide hotel power for Class 800 trains.
  • Batteries are a simple way of moving trains in a Last Mile application on perhaps a short branch line.
  • Battery power can be used to rescue a train, when the electrification fails.

Reports exist of Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens and Stadler using or researching the use of batteries in trains.

Hydrogen Power

I am becoming more enthusiastic about hydrogen power, which is primarily being developed by Alstom.

  • The UK could produce a lot of hydrogen easily from electrolysis of either brine to produce chlorine or water to produce hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Wind power would be a convenient way to provide the electricity needed.
  • Alstom are starting a project at Widnes to convert redundant Class 321 trains to hydrogen power.

A hydrogen powered Class 321 train would appear to be a powerful concept.

  • The trains will still be able to run on electrification.
  • The trains are pollution-free.
  • The trains make extensive use of batteries.
  • Alstom quote ranges of several hundred kilometres.
  • It would appear that the trains will still be capable of 100 mph after conversion.
  • Class 321 trains can be updated with quality interiors.

I believe these trains could find a solid market extending electrified routes.

Porterbrook’s Class 769 Trains

The Class 769 trains have been a long time coming, but companies have ordered 35 of these bi-mode upgrades of Class 319 trains.

  • They will be capable of 100 mph on electricity
  • They will be capable of 90 mph-plus on diesel
  • They will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • They have been designed with a powerful hill-climbing capability.

Looking at the orders,some need the hill-climbing capability and GWR’s proposal to use the trains on the dual-voltage Reading-Gatwick route is a sensible one.

Bombardier’s 125 mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries

I think that this train and others like it will be the future for many rail routes in the UK and around the world.

I will use the Midland Main Line as an example of the use of this type of train.

In a few years time, this important route will have the following characteristics.

  • A high proportion of 125 mph running.
  • Electrification between St. Pancras and Kettering/Corby
  • Possibly, electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross courtesy of High Speed Two.

Full electrification would be difficult as part of the route is through a World Heritage Site.

But Bombardier’s train would swap power source intelligently as it powered its way along at 125 mph.

Stadler’s Electric/Diesel/Battery Hybrid Train

This version of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 train, has been ordered for the South Wales Metro.

It can run on the following power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Onboard diesel generators.
  • Batteries

An intelligent control system will select the best power source.

With a central power pack between passenger cars, the design of this train is slightly quirky.

  • It is a 100 mph train with lots of acceleration.
  • I’m sure it could be equipped for 750 VDC electrification.
  • The power pack can be configured for different operators and types of routes.
  • Stadler are quite happy to sell small fleets of trains into niche markets.
  • It is a member of the successful Flirt family of trains, which are selling all over the world.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these trains sold to the UK.

Hitachi’s Class 800 Trains and Class 802 Trains

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains are already running on the Great Western Railway.

  • They have an operating speed of 125 mph on both electricity and diesel.
  • TransPennine Express have ordered nineteen Class 802 trains.
  • Hull Trains have ordered five Class 802 trains.

I have gone from London to Swansea and back in a day in Class 800 trains and they the new trains seem to be perfirming well.

They will get even better, as electrification is extended to Cardiff.

100/125 mph Bi-Mode Trains

In the previous sub-sections I have talked about four new bi-mode trains, that can run using electrification and under their own power.

  • Class 321 Hydrogen
  • Porterbrook’s Class 769 Train
  • High Speed Bi-Mode Aventra
  • Tri-Mode Stadler Flirt
  • Hitachi’s Class 800 Trains and Class 802 Trains

The designs are different, but they have common features.

  • An operating speed of at least 100 mph on electrified lines.
  • 90 mph-plus operating speed, when independently powered.
  • An out-and-back range of at least 200 miles away from electrification.
  • Proven designs from large families of trains.

Only one new route for these trains has been fully disclosed and that is Greater Anglia’s new Liverpool Street-Lowestoft service.

  • There will be three round trips a day between Lowestoft and London, using Class 755 trains.
  • North of Ipswich, diesel power will be used.
  • South of Ipswich, electric power will be used and trains will join the 100 mph queues to and from London.
  • Extra trains North of Ipswich, will use additional Class 755 trains, shuttling up and down the East Suffolk Line.

As the Class 755 trains and the express Class 745 trains on London-Ipswich-Norwich services will share the same team of drivers, it is an efficient use of bi-mode trains to extend an electric network.

Several of the proposed electrification schemes in the UK in addition to allowing electric trains, will also open up new routes for bi-mode and tri-mode trains.

  • Stirling to Perth electrification would allow bi-mode trains to run between Glasgow and Aberdeen via Dundee.
  • Leeds to York electrification would improve TransPennine bi-mode performance and allow electric trains access to Neville Hill TMD from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Sheffield to Clay Closs electrification for High Speed Two would also improve bi-mode performance on the Midland Main Line.

I think it should be born in mind, that the rolling out of the Class 800 trains all over the GWR, seems to have generated few bad reports, after a few initial problems.

In Thoughts On The Introduction Of Class 800 Trains On The Great Western Railway, I came to this conclusion.

There’s nothing much wrong operationally or passenger-wise with the Class 800 trains, that will not be put right by minor adjustments in the next couple of years.

So perhaps extending an electric network with quality bi-mode trains works well.

Used creatively bi-mode trains will increase the return on the money invested  in electrification.

Tram-Trains

I first saw tram-trains in Kassel in 2015 and I wrote about them in The Trams And Tram-Trains Of Kassel.

We are now embracing this technology in a trial in Sheffield using new Class 399 tram-trains.

I believe that, the UK is fertile territory for this technology.

  • KeolisAmey Wales haven’t waited for the results of the Sheffield trial and have already ordered thirty-six tram-trains with batteries for the South Wales Metro.
  • It also looks as if the West Midlands are planning to use the technology on an extension of the Midland Metro to Brierley Hill.
  • Glasgow are investigating a tram-train route to Glasgow Airport.

Although Network Rail and the Department for Transport seem to be only lukewarm on the technology, it does appear that local interests are much more enthusiastic.

In my view, the South Wales Metro is going to be a game changer, as it uses existing tracks, virtually standard tram-trains, electric/diesel/battery trains and a modicum of street running to transform a city’s transport system.

Intelligent Pantographs

I have read that the electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive can change between electric and diesel modes at line speed.

As a Control Engineer, I don’t believe it would be an impossible problem for a train powered by a mixture of 25 KVAC overhead electrification and diesel, battery, hydrogen or some other fuel to raise and lower a pantograph efficiently, to take advantage of any overhead wires that exist.

The raising and lowering could even be GPS controlled and totally automatic, with the driver just monitoring.

Ingenious Electrification Techniques

In Novel Solution Cuts Cardiff Bridge Wiring Cost, I wrote about how two simple techniques; an insulating coating and surge arresters, saved about ten million pounds, by avoiding a bridge reconstruction.

How much can be saved on electrification schemes by using simple and proven techniques like these?

Better Surveying And Site Information

A lot of the UK’s railways are like long Victorian buildings.

If you’ve ever tried to renovate a cottage that was built around the middle of the nineteenth century, you will understand the following.

  • It is unlikely you will have any accurate plans.
  • Some of the construction will be very good, but other parts will be downright shoddy.
  • You have no idea of the quality of the foundations.
  • If the building is Listed you’ll have a whole new level of bureaucracy to deal with.

Now scale your problems up to say a ten mile stretch of rail line, that needs to be electrified.

Instead of dealing with a cottage-sized plot, you may now be dealing with the following.

  • A double track railway with four train per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • A site that is several miles long.
  • Access to the work-site could be difficult.

So just surveying what has to be done and making sure you have details on any unforeseen underground structures like sewers, gas and water mains and old mine workings, can be a major undertaking.

Reading local newspaper reports on the Gospel Oak to Barking electrification, you get the impression the following happened.

  • Various overhead gantries were built to the wrong size.
  • A sewer was found, that had been missed by surveyors.
  • It was wrongly thought that the bridge at Crouch Hill station had sufficient clearance for the electrification. So much more work had to be done.

At least there weren’t any mine workings in East London, but as you can imagine these are a major problem in areas in the North.

Surely, nearly twenty years into the 21st century, we can avoid problems like these.

Discontinuous Electrification

Low bridges and and other structures crossing the tracks, can be  a big and expensive problem, when it comes to electrifying railway lines.

In the proposed electrification of the lines for the South Wales Metro, look at these statistics.

  • A total of 172 km. of track will be electrified.
  • Fifty-six structures were identified as needing to be raised.

The cost savings of eliminating some of this bridge raising would not be small.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the electrification on the South Wales Metro.

KeolisAmey has opted to use continuous overhead line equipment but discontinuous power on the Core Valley Lnes (CVL), meaning isolated OLE will be installed under bridges. On reaching a permanently earthed section, trains will automatically switch from 25 KVAC overhead to on-board battery supply, but the pantograph will remain in contact with the overhead cable, ready to collect power after the section. The company believes this method of reducing costly and disruptive engineering works could revive the business cases of cancelled electrification schemes. Hopes of having money left over for other schemes rest partly on this choice of technology.

In the final design, KeolisAmey have been able to use this discontinuous power solution at all but one of the fifty-six structures.

These structures will be checked and refurbished as required, but they would be unlikely to need lengthy closures, which would disrupt traffic, cyclists and walkers.

Each structure would need a bespoke structure to create a rail or wire on which the pantograph, would ride from one side of the structure to the other. But installing these would be a task of a much smaller magnitude.

There must be a lot of scope for both cost and time savings.

I think in the future, when it comes to electrifying existing lines, I think we’ll increasing see, this type of discontinuous electrification used to avoid rebuilding a structurally-sound bridge or structure.

I also think, that experience will give engineers a more extensive library of solutions.

Hopefully, costs could be driven downwards, instead of spiralling upwards!

Complimentary Design Of Trains And New Electrified Routes

In recent years two major electric rail projects have been planned, which have gone much further than the old philosophy of just putting up wires and a adding fleet of new trains.

I believe that the Crossrail Class 345 trains and the tunnel under London were designed to be complimentary to each other to improve operation and safety and cut operating costs.

But the interesting project is the South Wales Metro, where discontinuous electrification and battery power have been used to design, what should be a world-class metro at an affordable cost.

Too many electrification schemes have been designed by dull people, who don’t appreciate the developments that are happening.

Conclusion On Recent Developments

UK railways are doing better on electrification than many think.

Possible Developments

These are ideas I’ve seen talked about or are my own speculation.

Intelligent Discontinuous Third Rail Electrification

New third rail electrification is not installed much these days, due to perceived safety problems.

I have seen it proposed by respected commentators, that third rail electrification could play a part in the charging of train batteries.

Discontinuous third-rail electrification is already used extensively, at places like level crossings and where a safe route is needed for staff to cross the line.

But it is done in a crude manner, where the contact shoes on the train run up and down the sloping ends of the third rail.

As a time-expired Control Engineer, I’m fairly sure that a much better, safer system can be designed.

On the South Wales Metro, where discontinuous overhead electrification is to be used, battery power will be used to bridge the gaps.

Supposing trains on a third-rail electrified route, were fitted with batteries that gave the train a range of say two kilometres. This would give sufficient range to recover a train, where the power failed to a safe evacuation point.

The range on battery power would mean that there could be substantial gaps between sections of electrification, which would be sized to maximise safety, operational efficiency and minimise energy use.

Each section of electrification would only be switched on, when a train was present.

Train drivers could also have an emergency system to cut the power in a particular section, if they saw anything untoward, such as graffiti artists on the line.

Third Rail Electrification In Stations

I have seen it proposed by respected commentators, that third rail electrification could play a part in the charging of train batteries.

When you consider that trains often spend fifteen or twenty minutes at a terminal station, it could make it easier to run electric or bi-mode trains with batteries on branch lines.

The rail would normally be switched off and would only be switched on, when a train was above and connected to the rail.

As a time-expired Control Engineer, I’m fairly sure that a safe system can be designed.

Third Rail Electrification On Viaducts

To some overhead electrification gantries on top of a high viaduct are an unnecessary eyesore.

So why not use third-rail electrification, on top of viaducts like these?

Trains would need to be able to swap efficiently and reliably between modes.

Gravity-Assisted Electrification

For a country with no really high mountains, we have quite a few railways, that have the following characteristics.

  • Heavily-used commuter routes.
  • Double-track
  • A height difference of perhaps two hundred metres.

These are a few examples.

  • Cardiff Queen Street to Aberdare, Merthy Tydfil, Rhymney and Treherbert
  • Exeter to Barnstaple
  • Glasgow Central to East Kilbride
  • Manchester to Buxton

All are in areas, where putting up overhead gantries may be challenging and opposed by some campaigners.

As an example consider the Manchester to Buxton route.

  • The height difference is 220 metres.
  • One of Northern’s Class 319 trains weighs 140.3 tonnes.
  • These trains have a capacity of around 320 passengers.
  • If each passenger weighs 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies, this gives a train weight of 167.3 tonnes.

These figures mean that just over 100 kWh of electricity would be needed to raise the train to Buxton.

Coming down the hill, a full train would convert the height and weight into kinetic energy, which would need to be absorbed by the brakes. Only small amounts of new energy would need to be applied to nudge the train onto the hill towards Manchester.

The brakes on trains working these routes must take a severe hammering.

Supposing, we take a modern train with these characteristics.

  • Four cars.
  • Electric traction.
  • 200 kWh of battery capacity to handle regenerative braking.

Such a train would not be a difficult design and I suspect that Bombardier may already have designed an Aventra with these characteristics.

Only the uphill line would be electrified and operation would be as follows.

  • Climbing to Buxton, the train would use power from the electrification.
  • On the climb, the train could also use some battery power for efficiency reasons.
  • The train would arrive at Buxton with enough power left in the batteries to provide hotel power in the stop at Buxton and nudge the train down the hill.
  • On the descent, regenerative braking would be used to slow the train, with the energy created being stored in the batteries.
  • On the level run to Manchester, battery power could be used, rather than electrification power to increase efficiency.

How efficient would that be, with respect to the use of electricity?

I would also investigate the use of intelligent third-rail electrification, to minimise visual impact and the need to raise any bridges or structures over the line.

Gravity is free and reliable, so why not use it?

We don’t know the full

Conclusion On Possible Developments

Without taking great risks, there are lots of ideas out there that will help to electrify routes in an affordable manner.

Conclusion

I very much feel we’ll be seeing more electrification in the next few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

More On Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the Stadler Tri-Mode Flirts on the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

In Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, I said this.

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

As an Electrical and Control Engineer, I wouldn’t be surprised that the power-pack, which accepts up to four Deutz diesel engines, can replace one or two of these with battery modules. This could make conversion between the two types of Flirt, just a matter of swapping a diesel module for a battery one or vice-versa.

Note that the three-car Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia have two diesel engines and the four-car trains have four engines.

So could it be that the tri-mode Stadler Flirts have three batteries and just one diesel engine in the four slots in the power-pack in the middle of the train?

I wonder how much energy storage you get for the weight of a V8 diesel, as used on a bi-mode Flirt?

The V8 16 litre diesel engines are made by Deutz and  from their web site, it looks like they weigh about 1.3 tonnes.

So how much energy could a 1.3 tonne battery store.

The best traction batteries can probably store 0.1 kWh per kilogram. Assuming that the usable battery weight is 1.2 tonnes, then each battery module could store 120 kWh or 360 kWh if there are three of them.

How Far Would A Full 360 kWh Battery Take A Three-Car Flirt?

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 probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to the South and West of Cardiff.

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

This would mean that a 360 kWh battery would take a three-car train between twenty-four and forty miles.  The claim in Modern Railways of a forty mile range, isn’t that out of line.

How Much Energy Is Needed To Raise A Three-Car Flirt From Ystrad Mynach To Rhymney?

In Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, I estimated the following about the weight of three-car Flirt.

  • I reckon, that the weight of the train will be around 130 tonnes.
  • I will assume 150 passengers at 80 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

Raising it through the 125 metres between Ystrad Mynach and Rhymney, will need 48 kWh.

But what about stopping and starting at the seven stations on the route?

At every stop, a proportion of the energy will be recovered. If 20% is lost at every station, I think we can add about another 20 kWh of energy use.

And then there’s the power rneeded to run the train. Using the Ian Wa;msley formula shown earlier, we get between

three-cars x 10 miles x 3kWh and three-cars x 10 miles x 5 kWh or between 90 kWh and 150 kWh.

It would appear there is certainly enough power from a full battery, that will have been charged all the way from Cardiff to drive a three-car Flirt up to Rhymney on battery power.

For a four-car train my weight estimate is 166 tonnes, which means Raising the train between Ystrad Mynach and Rhymney, will need 57 kWh.

I estimate that losses for stopping and stasrting would be about 24 kWh

Train running power would be between 120 kWh and 200 kWh.

It would still be possible to go between Ystrad Mynach and Rhymney on battery power.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Stadler have designed a tri-mode train on steroids!

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Additional Double Track In South Wales

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the additional double track on the South Wales Metro.

Additional double track will be needed in 15 locations to support increased Core Valley Lines (CVL) frequencies.

So where are these locations?

I shall start by listing all the single platform stations.

I have ignored the following.

  • Terminal stations.
  • Stations on the Coryton Line.

I have grouped them by branch.

Aberdare Branch

Merthyr Branch

Rhondda Line

Rhymney Line

These total up to fourteen stations.

As the Butetown Branch will be extended through Cardiff Bay station and this station will need a second platform, does this add up to the fifteen new sections of double-track?

How Difficult Will It Be To Add A Second Track At Stations?

Of the fifteen stations, those on the Aberdate, Merthyr and Rhondda will only see the Stadler Citylink Metro vehicles, which will be running to the same rules as trams.

So could it be that these stations will be arranged like this stop on the London Tramlink, which is typical of many tram stops throughout the UK, Europe and the world?

Note.

  • There is no bridge.
  • There is full step-free access.
  • The overhead wires are kept well out of thew way.

As most tram networks have done in the UK, they could design a modern suite of shelters, ticket machines, information displays, seats help points and other items.

I suspect that the platform height would be designed to fit both the tri-mode Stadler Flirts and the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles.

The only stations that are served exclusively by the tri-mode Stadler Flirts and might be given an extra track are Pontlottyn and Brithdir stations at the Northern end of the Rhymney Line.

These stations only get four tph in both directions.

Do Many Stations Have Passing Freight Trains?

I never like to be on a platform, when a freight train goes through and it happens regularly at stations near me like Canonbury and Dalston Kingsland.

I looked on Real Time Trains and there don’t appear to be many such trains on the CVL

I suspect too, that they could use temporal separation, with any freight trains ruining, when the Metro is closed.

Conclusion

I do find it strange that the total number of one platform stations is the same as the number of locations, where the track will be doubled.

But surely, if all stations were on a double-track, this would give the maximum flexibility to run services.

If too, the stations could be built without footbridges to the standards of trams, then construction costs could be saved!

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

More On Discontinuous Electrification In South Wales

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the electrification on the South Wales Metro.

KeolisAmey has opted to use continuous overhead line equipment but discontinuous power on the Core Valley Lnes (CVL), meaning isolated OLE will be installed under bridges. On reaching a permanently earthed section, trains will automatically switch from 25 KVAC overhead to on-board battery supply, but the pantograph will remain in contact with the overhead cable, ready to collect power after the section. The company believes this method of reducing costly and disruptive engineering works could revive the business cases of cancelled electrification schemes. Hopes of having money left over for other schemes rest partly on this choice of technology.

Other points made include.

  • A total of 172 km. of track will be electrified.
  • The system is used elsewhere, but not in the UK.
  • Disruptive engineering works will be avoided on fifty-five structures.
  • Between Radyr and Ninian Park stations is also proposed for electrification.

Nothing is said about only electrifying the uphill track, which surely could be a way of reducing costs.

Ystrad Mynach To Rhymney

The article also states that on the Rhymney Line, the section between Ystrad Mynach and Rhymney stations will be run on batteries.

  • The distance is about ten miles.
  • The altitude difference is is about 125 metres.
  • The station area at Rhymney station will be electrified.
  • Rhymney will be an overnight stabling point.
  • Trains will change between overhead and battery power in Ystrad Mynach station.
  • Trains could charge the batteries at Rhymney if required.

Effectively, there is a avoidance of at least fourteen miles of electrification.

  • Four miles of double track between Ystrad Mynach and Bargoed.
  • Six miles of single track between Bargoed and Rhymney.

But as Rhymney to Ystrad Mynach currently takes about fourteen minutes, there will have to be some extra double-track, so that the required frequency of four trains per hour (tph) can be achieved.

None of this extra track will need electrification.

As the trains working the Rhymney Line will be tri-mode Stadler Flirts, with the capability of running on electricity, diesel or battery, I don’t think that KeolisAmey are taking any risks.

The Merthyr Line

The Merthyr Line splits North of Abercynon station into two branches to Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil stations.

  • South of Abercynon the branch is double-track.
  • Both branches are single track.
  • The Aberdare branch is about eight miles long.
  • Aberdare is around 40 metres higher than Abercynon.
  • Trains take 27 minutes to climb between Abercynon and Aberdare stations and 21 minutes to come down.
  • The Merthyr Tydfil branch is about ten miles long
  • Merthyr Tydfil is around 80 metres higher than Abercynon.
  • Trains take 27 minutes to climb between Abercynon and Merthyr Tydfil stations and 21 minutes to come down.

If the proposed four tph are to be run on these branches, there would need to be some double-tracking North of Abercynon.

Will both tracks be electrified, or will it be possible with just electrifying the uphill track?

The Rhondda Line

The Rhondda Line splits from the Merthyr Line to the North of Pontypridd station and goes North to Treherbert station.

  • South of Porth station, the line is double-track.
  • North of Porth station, the line is single-track with a passing loop at Ystrad Rhondda station.
  • Treherbert is 90 metres higher than Porth..
  • Trains take 28 minutes to climb between Porth and Treherbert and 20 minutes to come down.

If the proposed four tph are to be run on this branch, there may need to be some double-tracking North of Porth.

Will both tracks be electrified, or will it be possible with just electrifying the uphill track?

Conclusion

I suspect there’ll be more savings, as the engineers get to grips with the capabilities of battery trains and discontinuous electrification.

As I said, will it be necessary to electrify downhill tracks?

The tri-mode Stadler Flirts and the Stadler Citylink Metro vehicles could use regenerative braking to their batteries.

The use of gravity in this way to charge the batteries, would increase the efficiency of the South Wales Metro.

 

 

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains

As the Class 994 trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro, are being replaced, it will be interesting to compare them with the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles for the South Wales Metro.

New Trains For The Tyne And Wear Metro

Under Proposed New Fleet in the Wikipedia entry for Tyne and Wear Metro Rolling Stock this is said.

In November 2017, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would provide £337 million towards the new fleet. The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

Note.

  1. A dual-voltage capability will be required.
  2. Battery capability would be ideal for short movements and regenerative braking.
  3. In my, view longitudinal seating needs a walk-though capability.
  4. Currently, trains are two-car units and generally work in pairs.
  5. Trains can work in formations of three and four units, but the ability is not used.

If trains generally work in pairs would it be more affordable to have four-car trains?

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With The Current Tyne And Wear Class 994 Trains

In the following I will assume that the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles are similar to Class 399 tram-trains, as they are both members of the Stadler Citylink family.

Train Width And Height

The width and height of the two vehicles are as follow.

  • Class 994 train – 2.65 x 3.45 metres
  • Class 399 tram-train – 2.65 x 3.60 metres

There’s not much difference here.

Train Length And Sections

  • Class 994 train – 55.6 metres and two sections.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 37.2 metres and three sections.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 40 metres (?) and three sections.

It should be noted that Citylink tram-trains in Valencia have four and five sections.

Having used the Class 378 trains, with their walk-through capability and longitudinal seating, on the London Overground for at least seven years, I believe there is no other way to design a high-capacity metro train.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains could be 110 metres long and four walk-through sections.

  • This train would be the same length as two current trains working as a pair, which they generally do!
  • The design reduces the number of cabs.
  • Passengers distribute themselves along the train better.
  • Passengers can move to the convenient point to disembark at their destination.
  • On train staff are more prominent.

If in the future, the trains need more capacity, extra cars can be added.

Train Capacity

  • Class 994 train – 64 seats and 188 standing.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 88 seats and 150 standing
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 129 seats and 128 standing

This works out as.

  • Class 994 train – 9 passengers per metre.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 6.4 passengers per metre.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 6.4 passengers per metre.

Are we creating trains, that give passengers more space?

Doors

The Class 994 trains have two double-doors on each side of all cars.

But with Stadler Citylink vehicles, it appears the number is flexible.

  • Sheffield’s three-car Class 399 tram-trains have four double-doors on each side of the train.
  • Visualisations of the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, show a double-door in each of three cars.
  • Karlsruhe’s version only appear to have a double-door on the two end cars on one side only.

It would appear that the customer gets what they want.

Maximum Speed

  • Class 994 train – 80 kph
  • Class 399 tram-train – 100 kph
  • Karlsruhe’s Citylink tram-trains – 80 kph

There is no speed given for South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, but they are replacing diesel trains with a 120 kph maximum speed.

As tram-trains share tracks with faster trains, I would expect that a maximum speed of at least 100 kph is needed.

Power Supply

  • Class 994 train – 1500 VDC
  • Class 399 tram-train – 750 VDC and 25 KVAC
  • South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle – 25 KVAC and battery.

I also suspect thst the Class 399 tram-train and other members of the Citylink family, can run for a few metres on battery power in order to bridge the gap between different voltages.

It is worth noting that future vehicles for the Tyne and Wear Metro will need to access both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC. A possible battery capability is also mentioned.

I suspect that Stadler could easily produce a Citylink to work on all these common European voltages.

  1. 750 VDC
  2. 3000 VDC
  3. 15 KVAC
  4. 25 KVAC

All except 3000 VDC are already in service in Gerrmany, Spain or the UK.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s unusual 1500 VDC shouldn’t be a problem.

Minimum Curve Radius

Wikipedia says this about the minimum curve radius for a Class 994 train.

The vehicles have a minimum curve radius of 50 m (55 yd), although there are no curves this tight except for the non-passenger chord between Manors and West Jesmond.

This page on Wikipedia, says that the Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains can handle a minimum cure radius of twenty-two metres.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Radyr Station

Radyr station is a junction station on the Cardiff Valley Lines.

These pictures show the station.

It certainly has a massive modern step-free bridge.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  • The platforms are long.
  • South of the station, the tracks split into two, with the City Line going in a more Southerly direction.

Currently services at the station are as follows in trains per hour (tph).

  • Two tph North to Aberdare
  • Two tph North to Merthyr Tydfil
  • Two tph North to Treherbert
  • Six tph South to Cardiff Queen Street and Cardiff Central stations via Cathays.
  • Two tph between Radyr and Coryton stations via the City Line, and Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street stations.

In 2023 the service will be upgraded.

  • Four tph North to Aberdare
  • Four tph North to Merthyr Tydfil
  • Four tph North to Treherbert
  • Six tph South to Cardiff Queen Street and The Flourish stations via Cathays.
  • Two tph South to Cardiff Queen Street and The Cardiff Central stations via Cathays and back via the City Line.
  • Two tph South to Cardiff Queen Street and The Cardiff Central stations via the City Line and back via Cathays.
  • Two tph South to Cardiff Queen Street via Cathays.

All services will be run by new Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles.

Note.

  1. No services will start at Radyr station.
  2. No station will get a less frequent service.
  3. There will be a doubling of services through Radyr station.
  4. There will be level access between platform and vehicles at all stations.
  5. If required the new vehicles can run in pairs to increase capacity.

I also suspect this is only the start and that capacity will be increased on some lines.

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment