The Anonymous Widower

No News On Hydrogen Trains For The Midland Main Line

In April 2019, I wrote Hydrogen Trains To Be Trialled On The Midland Main Line, which was based on an article on Railway Gazette that is entitled Bimode And Hydrogen Trains As Abellio Wins Next East Midlands Franchise.

I said this in my post.

Abellio will be taking over the franchise in August this year and although bi-mode trains were certain to be introduced in a couple of years, the trialling of hydrogen-powered trains is a surprise to me and possibly others.

This is all that is said in the article.

Abellio will also trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line.

It also says, that the new fleet will not be announced until the orders are finalised.

Nothing has been heard since about the hydrogen train trial for the Midland Main Line.

But there have been several related developments, that might have implications for the trial.

East Midlands Railway Has Ordered Hitachi Class 804 Trains For EMR InterCity Services

Class 804 trains are Hitachi’s latest offering, that are tailored for the Midland Main Line.

The trains will have a few differences to the current Class 800,/801/802 trains.

But will they be suitable for conversion to hydrogen power?

Consider.

  • The Hitachi trains have a comprehensivecomputer system, that looks at the train and sees what power sources are available and controls the train accordingly.
  • Trains have already been ordered in five, seven and nine-car lengths. I have read up to twelve-car trains are possible in normal operation. See Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?
  • Hydrogen train designs, with a useful range of several hundred miles between refuelling, seem to need a hydrogen tank, that takes up at least half of a twenty metre long carriage.
  • The Hitachi train design has pantographs on the driver cars and can support diesel generator units in the intermediate cars, as it does in current trains.
  • The Japanese are researching hydrogen trains.
  • The five-car Class 802 trains have 2,100 kW of installed generator power.

I think that Hitachi’s engineers can build another carriage, with the following characteristics.

  • It could be based on a Motor Standard car.
  • The passenger seats and interior would be removed or redesigned in a shorter space.
  • Powered bogies would be as required.
  • It would contain a hydrogen tank to give sufficient range.
  • Appropriately-sized batteries and fuel-cells would be inside or under the vehicle.
  • Regenerative braking would help to recharge the batteries.
  • There would probably be no diesel generator unit.

There would need to be a walkway through the car. Stadler have shown this works in the Class 755 train.

A Hydrogen Power car like this would convert a five-car bi-mode diesel-electric train into a six-car hydrogen-electric hybrid train. Or they might just replace one Motor Standard car with the Hydrogen Power Car to create a five-car hydrogen-electric hybrid train, if the longer train would cause problems in the short platforms at St. Pancras.

  • The computer system would need to recognise the Hydrogen Power Car and control it accordingly. It would probably be very Plug-and-Play.
  • The weight of the train could probably be reduced by removing all diesel generator units.
  • The passenger experience would be better without diesel power.
  • The range away from the wires would probably be several hundred miles.

The drivers and other staff would probably not need massive retraining.

What Do I Mean By Appropriately-Sized Batteries And Fuel Cells?

I can’t be sure,, but I suspect the following rules and estimates hold.

  • The batteries must be large enough to more than hold the kinetic energy of a full five-car train, running at the full speed of 140 mph.
  • I estimate that the kinetic energy of the train,will be around 200 kWh, so with a contingency, perhaps battery capacity of between 400-500 kWh would be needed.
  • Currently, a 500 kWh battery would weigh five tonnes, which is of a similar weight to one of the diesel generator units, that are no longer needed.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimated that the all-electric Class 801 train, needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph. This means that travelling at 125 mph for an hour would consume around 2,000 kWh or an output of 2,000 kW from the fuel cell for the hour.
  • Note that 1 kg of hydrogen contains 33.33 kWh of usable energy, so the hydrogen to power the train for an hour at 125 mph, will weigh around sixty kilograms.

From my past experience in doing chemical reaction calculations in pressure vessels, I think it makes the concept feasible. After all, it’s not that different to Alstom’s Breeze.

I would assume, that the train manufacturers can do a full calculation, to a much more accurate level.

Applying The Concept To Other Hitachi Trains

Once proven, the concept could be applied to a large number of Hitachi bi-mode trains. I suspect too, that it could be applied to all other Hitachi A-train designs, that are in service or on order, all over the world.

In the UK, this includes Class 385, Class 395 and Class 80x trains.

Bombardier Have Said That They’re Not Interested In Hydrogen Power

But Electrostars and Aventras have the same Plug-and-Play characteristic as the Hitachi train.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Bombardier have a Hydrogen Power Car design for an Aventra. All that it needs is an order.

They could also probably convert a five-car Class 377 train to effectively a four-car train, with a Hydrogen Power Car in the middle. This would be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Lines. I suspect it could be done to meet the timescale imposed by the transfer of the Class 171 trains to East Midlands Railway.

There must be an optimal point, where converting an electric multiple unit, is more affordable to convert to hydrogen, than to add just batteries.

But then everybody has been dithering about the Uckfield and Marshlink trains, since I started this blog!

Stadler Have Shown That a Gangway Through A Power Car Is Acceptable To Passengers In The UK

Stadler’s Class 755 trains seem to be operating without any complaints about the gangway between the two halves of the train.

Stadler Have Two Orders For Hydrogen-Powered Trains

These posts describe them.

Stadler also have a substantial order for a fleet of battery Flirt Akku in Schleswig Holstein and they are heavily involved in providing the rolling stock for Merseyrail and the South Wales Metro, where battery-powered trains are part of the solution.

It looks to me, that Stadler have got the technology to satisfy the battery and hydrogen train market.

The Driver’s View Of Stadler

It’s happened to me twice now; in the Netherlands and in the UK.

  • Both drivers have talked about hydrogen and Stadler’s trains with the engine in the middle.
  • They like the concept of the engine.
  • The English driver couldn’t wait to get his hands on the train, when he finished his conversion.
  • Both brought up the subject of hydrogen first, which made me think, that Stadler are telling drivers about it.

Or does driving a hydrogen-powered vehicle as your day job, score Greta points in the pub or club after work?

Could The Hydrogen Train On The Midland Main Line Be A Stadler?

Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both controlled by Abellio or Dutch Railways.

In The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen, I laid out what the Dutch are doing to create a hydrogen-based economy in the North of the country.

Stadler are going to provide hydrogen-powered for the plan.

In addition.

  • Greater Anglia have bought a lot of Class 755 trains.
  • A lot of Lincolnshire and Norfolk is similar to the North of the Netherlands; flat and windy.
  • One of these trains with a hydrogen PowerPack, could be an ideal train for demonstrating hydrogen on rural routes like Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln.

But the promise was on the Midland Main Line?

Conclusion

Hydrogen trains seem to be taking off!

Even if there’s been no news about the trial on the Midland Main Line.

 

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Greater Anglia Launches New Intercity Trains On Norwich-London Route

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

The first Class 745 train to enter service left Norwich this morning at 0740 and arrived in Liverpool Street on time at 0924.

There is a more informative article in the East Anglia Daily Times, which is entitled East Anglia’s New Intercity Train Carries Its First Passengers.

Points include.

  • There is a cafe bar and First Class accommodation.
  • I’ve read elsewhere, there will be a trolley service.
  • All ten trains are expected to be in service by the end of March.
  • They will be introduced at a rate of one train per week.
  • Introduction will enable services run by older trains to be run by eight or nine carriages.
  • There are wide passages between carriages.
  • Seats are firmer than the older carriages.
  • Passengers liked the headrests.
  • Wi-fi is getting good reports.
  • Lots of charging points.
  • Step-free access is very good.
  • On-board toilets are fine.
  • One passenger said there were more tables.
  • Another passenger thought the new trains better than the old ones.

Inevitably these new trains will be compared with Hitachi’s Class 802 trains and other members of the family.

Operating Speed

These Stadler trains and the bi-mode Class 755 trains are only 100 mph trains, as that is the maximum speed anywhere in East Anglia.

But a driver told me, that both trains are designed for 125 mph and as some of their European siblings, run at that speed in service, I have no reason to disbelieve him.

On the other hand, the Hitachi trains are capable of 125 mph or 140 mph, where in-cab digital signalling is installed.

Train Length

The lengths of the two trains are as follows.

  • A nine-car Class 802 train is 234 metres long.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train is 236.6 metres long.

The difference won’t matter much, whre it concerns, the stations, that the trains can serve.

Passenger Entry

Doors are different on the two trains.

  • A nine-car Class 802 train has two single doors on each side of the car or 18 single doors per train on each side.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train a pair of double doors on each side of the car or 24 doors per train on each side.

Train-And-Platform Step

This picture shows the step across in a Class 802 train.

And this picture shows the step across in a Stadler Class 745 train.

All trains should have an entry like this at all platforms.

Passenger Capacity

  • A nine-car Class 802 train holds 576 standard, 71 First or 647 total passengers.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train holds 757 total passengers, including some First Class.

The Greater Anglia train holds seventeen percent more passengers in a train of the same overall length.

Do passengers sit in each other’s laps?

No! I suspect it’s all down to good design.

Exit From A Full Train

Many InterCity trains arrive at their destination full and passengers are in a hurry to get on with their journey.

  • A full nine-car Class 802 train has 35 passengers per single door, a narrow lobby and a step down onto the platform.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train has 62 passengers per double doors, a more spacious lobby and level access to the platform.

I shall be watching as a Class 745 train unloads 757 passengers at Liverpool Street station in the Peak.

C

 

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The 125 mph Bi-Mode Flirt

I am convinced that Stadler’s bi-mode Flirt of which Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains are the first such fleet to go into service anywhere in the world, are trains that are capable of being developed into a train that can cruise at 125 mph.

Rumours Of 125 mph

When the Flirts were first introduced, I asked a driver, if a 125 mph version was possible and he said yes.

Not that Greater Anglia would have much use for a 125 mph bi-mode.

But it had been reported that several of the drivers had been on trips to Switzerland, as part of the design and training process to smooth the entry of the fleet into service.

And all drivers like to talk about their charges be they freight locomotives, high speed trains, heavy trucks, racing cars (I had a Stig in my kitchen!) or complicated dockside or tower cranes.

Norway’s 120 mph Flirts

Norway runs all-electric Flirts at 200 kph or 120 mph, as described here in Wikipedia.

The basic train design should be capable of running at 125 mph.

Could The PowerPack Run At 125 mph?

This picture shows the PowerPack on a Class 755 train.

It is only 6.69 metres long and it weighs 27.9 tonnes.

The weight is not out of line with the weight of the 20.81 metre long driver car, which weighs 27.2 tonnes and the 15.22 metre long pantograph car, which weighs 16 tonnes.

But Stadler have put large dampers between the cars.

The dampers are the long black cylinders connecting the two cars. There are two on this side of the train and I suspect there are two on the other side.

It looks to me, that Stadler have paid very detailed attention to the dynamics of these trains and seem to hae done the following.

  • Carefully balanced the weights.
  • Driven the train from the two bogies under the driving cabs.
  • Used powerful dampers to calm everything down.

This is probably to enable good performance on both fast and not-so-straight routes.

I also suspect that Swiss railways are a much more challenging environment for running trains, than East Anglia and most of our 125 mph lines.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that a Class 755 train could run at or near 125 mph on a straight 125 mph line, whilst running on electric power.

Operating Speed On Diesel

I suspect the power requirements for 125 mph would be too much for the installed power in the PowerPack, but 100 mph would certainly be possible.

Ts There A Need For A 125 mph On Electric/100 mph On Diesel Flirt?

If you look at the UK, Hitachi have sold lots of Class 800 and 802 trains, which have a similar performance, but are a few mph faster on diesel.

It would appear that the market is there in the UK.

But the UK is only one of a large number of markets, where Flirts have been sold.

Greater Anglia will be running three services with a large proportion of electrified line.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • Lowestoft and Liverpool Street
  • Colchester and Peterborough

How the Class 755 trains perform on these services could be crucial to the development and success of Stadler’s unique concept.

 

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Fuel Cell Train To Be Tested In The Netherlands

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel-cell multiple-unit is to be tested on the Groningen – Leeuwarden line after an agreement was signed at the Klimaattop Noord NL climate summit by manufacturer Alstom, the province of Groningen, local operator Arriva, infrastructure manager ProRail and energy company Engie.

You can get a flavour of some of the Dutch railways in the area from The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

Hydrogen powered trains are also part of the future plans for the use of hydrogen, which I wrote about in The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen.

The Railway Gazette article gives more details on how they will be introducing low carbon trains in the network around Groningen and the wider Netherlands.

These general points are made.

  • The Netherlands has nearly a thousand kilometres of lines without electrification.
  • Alstom has forty-one orders for their hydrogen-powered Coradia iLints.

They will also be refurbishing the 51 Stadler GTW trains in the area.

The main improvement, is that they will be fitted with batteries to handle regenerative braking and cut their carbon footprint.

The Railway Gazette article also says this.

A further 18 new Stadler Wink trainsets have been ordered which will be able use overhead electrification or hydrotreated vegetable oil fuel, with batteries for regenerated braking energy. These will be designed so that their engines can be replaced with larger batteries when the planned 1·5 kV DC discontinuous electrification of the routes is completed.

The Stadler Wink appears to be the another train from the Flirt family, which is the successor to the GTW.

The Dutch seem to be moving very firmly towards a zero-carbon railway in the North.

Collateral Benefits For The UK

What areas of the UK would be ideal places to adopt a similar philosophy to that which the Dutch are using in the North of the Netherlands?

I think they will be areas, where there are lots of zero carbon electricity, railways without electrification and terrain that’s not to challenging.

These areas come to mind.

  • East Anglia
  • Lincolnshire
  • East Yorkshire
  • Far North and North East Scotland.

Note.

    1. The only electrification in these areas is the main lines to Norwich and Cambridge in East Anglia.
    2. All areas have Gigawatts of offshore wind farms either operating or under development.
    3. Vivarail are proposing to run battery-electric trains between Wick and Turso, as I wrote about in Is This The Most Unusual Idea For A New Railway Service in The UK?
    4. With the exception of East Yorkshire, the train operating company is Abellio, who are Dutch railways, by another name.
    5. East Anglia is already using Stadler Flirt Class 755 trains, that can be fitted with batteries.

I also believe that Hitachi will soon be providing battery-electric versions of their AT300 trains. I wrote about this in Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains.

Battery electric AT300 trains could provide long distance services to the areas I listed.

Conclusion

What is happening in the North of the Netherlands, will be watched with interest in the UK.

 

November 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Go Flirting?

Abellio take over the East Midlands franchise in a few days and it will be renamed to East Midlands Railway.

It has already disclosed that it will have three divisions.

  • EMR Intercity for long distance services from London St Pancras
  • EMR Regional for local services
  • EMR Electrics for the London St Pancras to Corby service

It has also confirmed it has ordered thirty-three AT-300 trains for EMR Intercity.

Wikipedia also shows, that the following trains will be transferred to East Midlands Railway.

The first three fleets will come from Abellio-run franchises and the last will be released fairly soon, as Hull Trains new fleet is arriving.

Looking at the EMR Regional fleet it will comprise.

Consider.

  • Many probably feel that the Class 153 trains are inadequate.
  • Except for the Class 170 trains, these trains are around thirty years old.
  • Some of the Class 156 trains, which will be transferred from Greater Anglia, are currently being replaced with brand-new Class 755 trains.
  • Abellio are going through extensive fleet replacement exercises in ScotRail, Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains.

The EMR Regional routes, that they will run are a mixed bunch.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

Digging out the blurb for each route shows the following.

Norwich – Nottingham – Derby

Crewe – Derby – Nottingham

Matlock – Derby – Nottingham

Nottingham – Lincoln – Grimsby

Nottingham – Worksop

Nottingham – Skegness

Leicester – Nottingham

Peterborough – Lincoln – Doncaster

Barton-On-Humber – Cleethorpes

Lincoln – London

London – Oakham – Melton Mowbray

London- Leeds – York

 

Newark North Gate – Lincoln

I have come to a few conclusions.

The Fleet Is Not Being Expanded Enough To Retire The Class 153 Trains

Consider.

  • There are twenty-one Class 153 trains.
  • Five Class 170 trains and nine Class 156 trains are being added to the fleet.

Surely, this means that some Class 153 trains will be retained.

Perhaps, the remaining Class 153  trains, will be reorganised into two-car trains to increase capacity.

Extended Services Will Be Run Using New Bi-Mode AT-300 Trains

Services to Leeds and York, Oakham and Melton Mowbray and Lincoln would appear to be run by the new AT-300 trains that have been ordeed from Hitachi.

I’ve no problem with that,but there are three developments that may effect passenger numbers.

  • There is a lot of housing development in the Corby, Oakham and Melton Mowbray area.
  • There is a very large renewable energy sector developing in North Lincolnshire.
  • Sheffield are proposing to add new stations between Sheffield and Leeds, at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley.

Does the proposed service pattern take this fully into account?

In a way it doesn’t matter, as the worst that could happen, is that East Midlands Railway will need to increase the fleet size by a small number of trains.

Hopefully, they’ll just need to get Hitachi to build the trains!

Most Regional Services Will Be Run By Refurbished Modern Trains

Most services will be run by refurbished modern trains with the following features.

  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board wi-fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air-conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space

Can East Midlands Railway Refurbish Their Augmented Fleet To Meet Their Required Standards?

Consider.

  • The Class 170 trains are relatively recent and were built to a high standard, so can probably meet EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 158 trains are thirty years old and were built to a high standard, so they might be able to be upgraded to EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 156 trains are thirty years old and noisy and old-fashioned, so will need a lot of work to bring them up to EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 153 trains are thirty years old and only one car, so would probably be best retired or reduced to an auxiliary role like a bicycle car.
  • Only the Class 170 and Class 158 trains can be high standard trains.
  • All trains are diesel and only the Class 170 trains are possibly planned to be upgraded to more economical diesel hybrid trains

One additional option might be to refurbish some of the Class 222 trains, when they are replaced by the new Hitachi AT-300 trains on main line services, so they were suitable for the longer regional routes.

Will East Midlands Railway Replace The Fleet?

In their three other franchises in the UK; Greater Anglia, ScotRail and West Midlands Trains, Abellio have opted for replacement of all or a substantial part of the fleet.

So will the same action be taken at East Midlands Railway?

The company could do a lot worse, than invest in a fleet of Class 755 trains like Greater Anglia.

  • They could be a mix of lengths, so each route could have a train with capacity for the traffic.
  • The trains may be capable of 125 mph running on the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.
  • The interiors meet the company’s requirements.
  • The trains could use electrification , where it exists.
  • The trains could be fast enough to cover for the AT-300 trains.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia will soon have a large knowledge base for the trains.

The clincher could be, that as electrification increases, the trains could fit batteries and generate less carbon.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio East Midlands Railway buy a fleet of Class 755 trains for their EMR Regional services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My First Rides In A Class 755 Train

Today, I had my first rides in a Class 755 train. I use rides, as it was three separate timetabled journeys.

  • 12:36 – Norwich to Great Yarmouth
  • 13:17 – Great Yarmouth to Norwich
  • 14:05 – Norwich to Lowestoft

But it was only one train!

Although, I did see at least one other train in service.

These are my observations.

The Overall Style

These are a few pictures of the outside of the train.

The train certainly looks impressive from the front, but then it has a similar profile to a Bombardier Aventra or a member of Hitachi’s Class 800 family of trains.

The open nose is reminiscent of front-engined Formula One racing cars of the 1950s, with an added sloping front to apply downforce.

I would suspect that the similarity of the trains  is driven by good aerodynamic design.

If all the current Formula One cars were painted the same colour, could you tell the apart?

Trains seem to be going the same way. Only Siemens Class 700/707/717 design doesn’t seem to be rounded and smooth.

The PowerPack

The unique feature of these bi-mode trains is the diesel PowerPack in the middle of the train.

Stadler first used a PowerPack in the GTW, which I described in The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

  • GTWs date from 1998.
  • Over five hundred GTWs have been built.
  • You see GTWs in several countries in Europe.
  • GTWs have a maximum speed of between 115 and 140 kph.

The concept of the train with a PowerPack is certainly well-proven.

I have deliberately ridden for perhaps twenty seconds in the corridor through the PowerPack on both trains! Although I didn’t measure it with a sound meter, I’m fairly certain, that the more modern Class 755 train is better insulated against the noise of the engines.

But you would expect that with progress!

There could be another significant difference between the bi-mode Flirt and the GTW. This picture shows the connection between the PowerPack and the next car.

It looks like it could be a damper to improve the performance of the train on curves. It is not visible on this picture of a GTW PowerPack.

As an engineer, this says to me, that Stadler have taken tremendous care  to make the unusual concept of the PowerPack work perfectly.

Train Power On Diesel

Consider.

  • This four-car Class 755 train has installed diesel power of 1920 kW.
  • At 100 mph, the train will travel a mile in thirty-six seconds.
  • In that time, 19.2 kWh would be generated by the engines at full-power.

This means that a maximum power of 4.6 kWh per vehicle mile is available, when running on diesel power.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I answered the question in the title of the post.

This was my conclusion in that post.

I know this was a rather rough and ready calculation, but I can draw two conclusions.

  • Trains running at 125 mph seem to need between three and five kWh per vehicle mile.
  • The forty year old InterCity 125 has an efficient energy use, even if the engines are working flat out to maintain full speed.

The only explanation for the latter is that Terry Miller and his team, got the aerodynamics, dynamics and structures of the InterCity 125 almost perfect. And this was all before computer-aided-design became commonplace.

In future for the energy use of a train running at 125 mph, I shall use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile.

These figures leave me convinced that the design of the Class 755 train can deliver enough power to sustain the train at 125 mph, when running on diesel power

Obviously, as the maximum speed in East Anglia, is only the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line, they won’t be doing these speeds in the service of Greater Anglia.

I also  had a quick word with a driver and one of my questions, was could the train design be good for 125 mph? He didn’t say no!

This 125 mph capability  could be useful for Greater Anglia’s sister company; Abellio East Midlands Trains, where 125 mph running is possible, on some  routes with and without electrification.

With respect to the Greater Anglia application, I wonder how many engines will be used on various routes? Many of the routes without electrification are almost without gradients, so I can see for large sections of the routes, some engines will just be heavy passengers.

I’ve read somewhere, that the train’s computer evens out use between engines, so I suspect, it gives the driver the power he requires, in the most efficient way possible.

Remember that these Greater Anglia Class 755 trains, are the first bi-mode Stadler Flirts to go into service, so the most efficient operating philosophy has probably not been fully developed.

Train Weight

These pictures show the plates on the train giving the details of each car.

 

I only photographed one side of the train and I will assume that the other two cars are similar. They won’t be exactly the same, as this  intermediate car has a fully-accessible toilet.

The weight of each car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 27.9 tonnes
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 16.0 tonnes
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 27.2 tonnes

Adding these up gives a train weight of 114.3 tonnes.

Note that the formation of the train is DMS+PTS+PP+PYSW+DMS2, which means that heavier and lighter cars alternate along the train.

Train Length

The previous pictures give the  length of each  car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 6.69 metres
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 15.22 metres
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 20.81 metres

Adding these up gives a train length of 78.75 metres.

This is very convenient as it fits within British Rail’s traditional limit for a four-car multiple unit like a Class 319 train.

Train Width

The previous pictures give the width of each  car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 2.82 metres
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 2.72 metres
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 2.72 metres

The PowerPack is wider than the other cars and it is actually wider than the 2.69 metres of the Class 170 train, that the Class 755 train will replace. However, Greater Anglia’s electric Class 321 trains also have a width of 2.82 metres.

It looks to me, that Stadler have designed the PowerPack to the largest size that the UK rail network can accept.

The other cars are narrower by ten centimetres, which is probably a compromise between fitting platforms, aerodynamics and the needs of articulation.

Seats

The previous pictures give the number of seats in each  car as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 0
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 32
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 52

This gives a total of 168 seats. Wikipedia gives 229.

Perhaps the car without the toilet has more or Wikipedia’s figure includes standees.

Kinetic Energy Of The Train

I will use my standard calculation.

The basic train weight is 114.3 tonnes.

If each of the 229 passengers weighs 90 kg with Baggage, bikes and buggies, this gives a passenger weight of 20.34 tonnes.

This gives a total weight of 134.64 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator gives these figures for the Kinetic energy.

  • 60 mph – 13.5 kWh
  • 100 mph – 37.4 kWh
  • 125 mph – 58.4 kWh

If we are talking about the Greater Anglia C;lass 755 train, which will be limited to 100 mph, this leads me to believe, that by replacing one diesel engine with a plug compatible battery of sufficient size, the following is possible.

  • On all routes, regenerative braking will be available under both diesel and electric power.
  • Some shorter routes could be run on battery power, with charging using existing electrification.
  • Depot and other short movements could be performed under battery power.

The South Wales Metro has already ordered tri-mode Flirts, that look like Class 755 trains.

InterCity Quality For Rural Routes

The title of this section is a quote from the Managing Director of Greater Anglia; Jamie Burles about the Class 755 trains in this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the complete paragraph.

Burles said of the Class 755s: “These will be the most reliable regional train in the UK by a country mile – they had better be. They will be InterCity quality for rural routes, and will exceed expectations.”

I shall bear that quote in mind in the next few sections.

Seats And Tables

The seats are better than some I could name.

The seats are actually on two levels, as some are over the bogies. However |Stadler seem to managed to keep the floor flat and you step-up into the seats, as you do in some seats on a London New Routemaster bus.

Seat-Back Tables

I particular liked the seat-back tables, which weren’t the usual flimsy plastic, but something a lot more solid.

They are possibly made out of aluminium or a high class engineering plastic. You’d certainly be able to put a coffee on them, without getting it dumped in your lap.

It is the sort of quality you might get on an airliner, flown by an airline with a reputation for good customer service.

Step-Free Access

Stadler are the experts, when it comes to getting between the train and the platform, without a step. As I travel around Europe, you see little gap fillers emerge from trains built by Stadler, which have now arrived in East Anglia.

There was a slight problem at Great Yarmouth with a wheelchair, but it was probably something that can be easily sorted.

Some platforms may need to be adjusted.

Big Windows

The train has been designed with large windows, that are generally aligned with the seats.

There is no excuse for windows not aligning with most of the seats, as you find on some fleets of trains.

Low Flat Floor

The train has been designed around a low, flat floor.

The floor also improves the step-free access and gives more usable height inside the train.

Litter Bins

The train has well-engineered litter bins in  between the seats and in the lobbies.

This bin is in the lobby, next to a comfortable tip-up seat.

Too many trains seem to be built without bins these days and the litter just gets thrown on the floor.

Conclusion

It is certainly a better class of rural train and I think it fulfils Jamie Burles’ ambition of InterCity Quality For Rural Routes.

But then services between Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich are as important to East Anglia, as services between Hull, Leeds and Sheffield are to Yorkshire.

They are all services that can take a substantial part of an hour, so treating passengers well, might lure them out of their cars and off crowded roads.

In My First Ride In A Class 331 Train, I wrote about Northern’s new Class 331 trains.

If I was going to give the Greater Anglia train a score of eight out of ten, I’d give the Class 331 train, no more than two out of ten.

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022

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

This is the first paragraph.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.

This statement means that whoever manufactures the trains has just over three years from today to design, build and test the trains.

This paragraph from the article talks about how Bombardier and Hitachi would design the trains.

It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.

What do we know about these two trains?

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

As is typical with Bombardier interviews, they give their objectives, rather than how they aim to achieve them.

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

The title of this post is the same as this article in Rail Magazine.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

Very little more can be gleaned from the later Modern Railways article.

Consider.

  • Aventras are designed to a modular concept.
  • Bombardier have finally got the software for the train working to a high standard.
  • The trains are designed for ease of manufacture, at a high rate.
  • Development of the bi-mode train must have started before June 2018.
  • Christian Wolmar disclosed the objective of a 125 mph Aventra in February 2017.
  • I have seem references to Aventras, being tested at 110 mph.

On the balance of probabilities, I think it is very possible that Bombardier can deliver a full fleet of 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries before the end of 2022.

Hitachi AT-300

Consider.

  • Class 802 trains are a version of the AT-300 train, which in turn are a member of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  • Class 802 trains are successfully in service on the Great Western Railway.
  • Class 385, 395, 800 and 801 are all members of the A-train family and are closely related to the Class 802 train.
  • The A-Train is a modular family.and different numbers of cars and car length, shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Hull Trains ordered their fleet of five Class 802 trains in November 2016 and they will enter service around December 2019 or early in 2020.
  • First Group ordered five AT-300 trains in March 2019 and they will enter service in Autumn 2021.

If the order has been placed in the last few months, there is every chance that Hitachi could deliver a fleet of new bi-mode trains for service in December 2022.

Stadler Flirt

These aren’t mentioned in the Rail Magazine article, but they were mentioned as a possibility for the order in an article by Roger Ford, which was entitled East Midlands IC125 Dilemma, in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract from Roger’s article.

In theory, Stadler should be in pole position. Itis also supplying Abellio’s Greater Anglia franchise, where Flirt bi-modes are running on test.

As they haven’t had any serious problems yet, and they are Swiss, everyone thinks they are amazingly efficient and wonderful. Whjich may turn out to be the case.

In the end, Roger rates their chances as slim.

But Stadler certainly has the technical capability to produce a 125 mph bi-mode train.

Electric Trains To Corby

When the electrified St. Pancras and Corby service opens in December 2020, a round trip will take three hours.

This means that as few as three trains would be needed to provide the service.

The specification would be.

  • Electric traction
  • Twelve cars and 240 metres long.
  • 125 mph capability.
  • Three trains and a spare would probably be needed by December 2020, with a further three trains by December 2021.

Abellio would also probably like the trains to be very similar for drivers and staff.

Currently, it appears that the electric services to Corby, will be run initially by cascaded Class 360 trains.

  • But with a bit of juggling of production, Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler might be able to manufacture, the four trains needed to start the service in December 2020.
  • Abellio also have Class 360 and Class 379 trains working on Greater Anglia, that are likely to be replaced before December 2020.

So they have a sensible back-stop.

How Many Trains Will Abellio Need?

The current service is two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

Even if there is a bit of a speed increase, it looks like at least eight trains will be needed for both services.

As to train length, I doubt five cars will be enough on all trains.

  • Some services are currently run by six and eight-car HSTs.
  • Have Abellio promised more seats?
  • Abellio will be extending some Sheffield services to Rotherham, Barnsley and Leeds.
  • It has already been stated that the Corby trains will be 240 metres long
  • So will we see a uniform fleet of longer trains?

There are some short platforms, so I suspect Abellio will buy a mixture of full-length 240 metre-long trains and half-length 120 metre-long trains, as several train companies have done.

I feel we could see something like eight full length trains and perhaps twelve half-length trains.

I have calculated that seven full-length trains are needed for Corby.

Adding this up gives the following.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

This gives a total of 27 trains of a total of 210 cars, of which 140 are bi-mode and 70 are electric.

All of this is based on running the current service with new trains.

abellio Greater Anglia have not not just done this in East Anglia, but have purchsed extra trains to add new services and increase frequencies.

So I would feel, that these trains are a minimum order, if Abellio are not doing any expansion.

Daily Telegraph Report – 19th July 2019

A report in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th July 2019, which is entitled Blow For Bombardier’s Derby Plant As £600m Train Contract Goes To Hitachi, says the order has gone to Hitachi.

  • Value is quoted at £600million.
  • A formal announcement is expected next week.

Has next week already passed without an announcement from Abellio?

I do find it strange, that there has been no reference to the Telegraph report in local sources around Derby.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service.

FirstGroup have ordered AT-300 trains.

  • All-electric.
  • Five trains of five-cars.
  • A total order value of £100 million.
  • Order placed in March 2019
  • Service starting in Autumn 2021

This works out at four million pounds per car.

Earlier, I calculated that Abellio needed to buy 140 bi-mode cars and seventy electric ones.

Assuming that Abellio run the Corby services with refurbished Class 360 trains, then 140 carriages will cost £560 million.

But this would mean the following.

  • Abellio would be running two separate fleets on the Midland Main Line.
  • The Corby services would run below the operating speed of the route.
  • Expansion would mean the purchase of more trains.

This is very different to their philosophy in Abellio Greater Anglia.

  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains are very similar to drivers and other staff.
  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia have significantly increased the size of their train fleet.

I believe that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler can all met this schedule.

  • Deliver four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Deliver another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • Deliver the fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

At four million pounds for a car for a Hitachi train, this works out at £840 million.

So could it be, that Hitachi have thrown in a good discount to make sure of the order.

It will be very interesting, when Abellio announce their order.

Interim Trains

Baroness Vere also discussed the other trains on the Midland Main Line.

This was the final two paragraph from the article.

As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.

When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.

So what is going to happen?

It appears that the four Class 180 trains and the twenty-seven Class 222 trains of various lengths will have to manage.

But I do think, that Baroness Vere’s statement.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022.

Is very welcome, as the HSTs will retire on the 31st December 2019 and there will be less than three years of a reduced fleet.

These points should also be noted.

  • In December 2020, when the electrification goes live and new electric trains start running between London and Corby, there will be a few more Class 222 trains available.
  • The Corby electric trains, will also add capacity between London and Kettering.
  • I don’t think it unlikely, that some other trains are rustled up to fill the gaps using perhaps Mark 4 coaches and Class 43 locomotives.

I hope for Abellio’s and their passengers sake, that what Baroness Vere said, comes true!

Could Abellio Go For A Safety-First Solution?

Consider.

  • Abellio Greater Anglia’s new Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all running, if not years, but a few months late.
  • There has been nothing serious and Greater Anglia only has one fleet that is not PRM-compliant; the London and Norwich expresses.
  • Providing all goes reasonably well with the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, Greater Anglia’s fleet will be fully PRM-compliant, by the end of the year.

But if they had opted for off-the-shelf Hitachi Class 801 trains for London and Norwich, there might have been less worry. On the other hand, Hitachi way of making trains, by shipping the bodies from Japan probably doesn’t lead itself to high productio rates.

But for Midland Main Line services, Abellio East Midlands Railway aren’t looking at a large fleet of trains.

I estimate they could need.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

Now that Hitachi’s big orders are coming to an end, Abellio can probably be sure, they will get the main line trains on time and with the minimum of fuss.

Going the safety-first route of buying a fleet of Hitachi trains could deliver the trains that are needed urgently.

  • Four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • A fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

It might be a bit tight for the Corby electrics, but other trains that could work the route in the interim are available.

Abellio could do a lot worse than give Hitahi the order, if they could deliver early!

Conclusion

If any of the three train manufacturers can supply new trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service to the tight timetable, Abellio would surely be very pleased, as they would only have one train type to introduce on the route.

But I do think, that there is a possibility, that a good discount has won it for Hitachi!

 

 

 

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Battery Answer To Schleswig-Holstein’s Diesel Replacement Question

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

It is a good explanation of why there is so much interest in battery-powered trains.

This paragraph from the article, describes how the trains will operate in Schleswig-Holstein.

They will have range of 150 km under optimal conditions, although the longest non-electrified route they will operate on is around 80 km. The batteries will be recharged from the existing 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead electrification at Kiel, Neumünster, Flensburg, Lübeck and Lüneburg stations and on the Osterrönfeld – Jübek line. Charging facilities will also be provided in other locations, and there will be some extensions to the existing overhead power supply.

Consider.

  • These trains can run on routes of up to eighty kilometres or around fifty miles.
  • Greater Anglia and Transport for Wales will be running the UK versions of the Stadler Flirts, that will be used in Schleswig-Holstein.
  • Transport for Wales will also be running a tri-mode Flirt with electric, diesel and battery power.
  • The Continental loading gauge, probably allows more batteries than the smaller UK loading gauge.

I think it could be reasonable to assume, that a UK-sized  battery-electric Stadler Flirt could have a range of forty miles on batteries.

These could be possible routes for Greater Anglia.

  • Norwich and Sheringham – 30 miles
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 23.5 miles
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 18 miles
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – 16 miles
  • Colchester Town and Sudbury – 20 miles

In addition some partially-electrified routes have gaps less than forty miles. Think Cambridge and Ipswich!

I would not be surprised to see battery trains, quietly gliding around East Anglia.

Would they attract passengers and tourists?

Perhaps Germany and Stadler will give us the Schleswig-Holstein Answer, which will be much more interesting than the Schleswig-Holstein Question.

Economics Of Battery Trains

The article also has this quote from the CEO of Stadler Germany about the economics of battery trains.

It makes us very proud that with the battery-powered Flirt we have not only managed to find an ecological and innovative solution, but have also enabled a clear economic improvement. If we consider the average life of a rail vehicle of around 30 years, battery-operated vehicles are more cost-effective than diesel’.

I think it can also be said, that battery technology will improve continuously in the next thirty years and we should see a corresponding improvement in range and performance.

You don’t get that with diesel.

Hydrogen Or Battery Power?

I would think that Alstom are not happy about this order for battery-powered trains.

  • Only a hundred kilometres or so to the West, they are supplying Alstom Coradia iLint trains for a similar network.
  • These trains are working well.
  • They have teamed up with Linde to supply the hydrogen.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Schleswig-Holstein had chosen hydrogen trains.

So why did Schleswig-Holstein, choose battery rather than hydrogen trains?

  • Provided, the driver or a computer, raises and lowers the pantograph appropriately, there is no difference between an electric train and its battery-electric sibling.
  • Systems to charge battery trains can be installed anywhere, there is an electricity supply.
  • The electricity supply could be local wind or solar.
  • Charging battery trains could be automatic and require no more action from the driver, than checking everything is as it should be and perhaps pushing a button or two. On a bleak miserable day, the driver would remain in the warm and comfortable cab.
  • Hydrogen would need to be loaded on the train at a depot or another place with the necessary safety clearance.
  • The iLint seats 160 and the Flirt Akku seats 124, so I suspect capacity isn’t much of a problem.
  • The Flirt Akku is a train designed for battery-electric operation, whereas the iLint is a modified diesel train, with a noisy and harsh mechanical transmission. It’s like comparing Class 710 trains, with their predecessors on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line; the Class 172 trains.
  • I suspect most Germans have talked to a relative or older person, who remembers the Hindenburg.

There is probably little to choose between the two trains, but I believe that the operation of the hydrogen-powered train will be more complicated.

I also don’t know the cost of each train.

As I said earlier, Stadler claim long-term ownership of battery-powered trains is more economic than diesel. Does the same apply to battery against hydrogen power.

Conclusion

I believe we’ll see lots more battery trains.

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What More Could Passengers Want?

The latest Press Release on the Stadler web site about the new trains for Greater Anglia is entitled Milestone For The UK: First Stadler FLIRT train Receives Approval.

These are the last two paragraphs.

With 20 per cent more seats, which have been designed to be as comfortable as possible, trains will feature
low flooring to make them accessible for people in wheelchairs and with pushchairs. Windows will be bigger
and ‘picture style’ to improve the passenger experience and create a more airy and spacious feel.
Mobile phone reception will be better and plug and USB sockets will be installed at every seat. Wifi will be
free and faster than previously. All trains will be fully air-conditioned and have disabled toilets and bicycle
spaces.

What more could passengers want?

July 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment