The Anonymous Widower

Are Greater Anglia’s Flirts Faster Than 100 mph?

Over the last fifty years or so, a lot of fast trains have been introduced onto the UK’s railways.

It does seem that often the design speed and what is possible differ by up to twenty miles per hour.

It is probably in part good design, as it means that an accidental overspeed can be safely handled.

Greater Anglia has ordered two fleets of Stadler FLIRTs.

Note

  1. Both trains share a lot of features and are capable of 100 mph.
  2. Some Norwegian electric FlLIRTs have a top speed of 120 mph. They have an extra powered axle, but do they have ostensibly the same running gear and electrifical systems?

So would it be reasonable to assume that Stadler have designed FLIRTs, so that faster versions can be created?

If the answer is in the affirmative, there is two interesting possibilities.

London To Norwich Services

The section of line between Norwich and Haughley Junction has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • 31 miles long.
  • 100 mph operating speed
  • Electrified
  • A few level-crossings
  • It is fairly straight
  • There is the Trowse swing bridge over the River Wensum
  • Passenger services on the route will be run only using Stadler FLIRTs.

Network Rail have been very successful in upgrading routes like this for faster running and as the Trowse swing bridge will be replaced, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this section of line upgraded to perhaps 110 mph. This would save a couple of minutes, if the trains could take advantage.

Other services in East Anglia would also benefit from works to improve line speed.

Midland Main Line Services

The Midland Main Line will receive brand-new 125 mph bi-mode trains in 2022.

If Class 755 bi-mode trains could be configured to run at 125 mph, like their electric cousins, they must be a possibility.

Conclusion

Only Stadler know if their Class 745 and 755 trains can be upgraded to higher speeds.

But if they can be upgraded, they could be a very useful train for UK railways.

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Trains To Be Trialled On The Midland Main Line

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Bimode And Hydrogen Trains As Abellio Wins Next East Midlands Franchise.

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.

In this post, I’m assuming that the hydrogen trial will be performed using the main line trains.

Trains for the Midland Main Line will need to have the following properties

  • 125 mph on electric power
  • 125 mph on diesel power
  • Ability to go at up to 140 mph, when idigital n-cab signalling is installed and the track is improved.
  • UK gauge
  • Ability to run on hydrogen at a future date.

I think there could be three types of train.

  • A traditional bi-mode multiple unit, with underfloor engines like the Hitachi Class 800 series, is obviously a possibility.
  • An electrical multiple unit, where one driving car is replaced by a bi-mode locomotive with appropriate power.
  • Stadler or another manufacturer might opt for a train with a power pack in the middle.

The second option would effectively be a modern InterCity 225.

  • South of Kettering, electricity would be used.
  • North of Kettering, diesel would be used
  • Hydrogen power could replace diesel power at some future date.
  • Design could probably make the two cabs and their driving desks identical.
  • The locomotive would be interchangeable with a driver car.

Bi-modes would work most services, with electric versions working to Corby at 125 mph.

Which manufacturer has a design for a 125 mph, hydrogen-powered train?

Alstom

Alstom have no 125 mph UK multiple unit and their Class 321 Hydogen train, is certainly not a 125 mph train and probably will still be under development.

Bombardier

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I compared diesel and hydrogen-power on bi-mode Aventras and felt that hydrogen could be feasible.

In that post, I wrote a section called Diesel Or Hydrogen Power?, where I said this.

Could the better ambience be, because the train doesn’t use noisy and polluting diesel power, but clean hydrogen?

It’s a possibility, especially as Bombardier are Canadian, as are Ballard, who produce hydrogen fuel-cells with output between 100-200 kW.

Ballard’s fuel cells power some of London’s hydrogen buses.

The New Routemaster hybrid bus is powered by a 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine and uses a 75 kWh lithium-ion battery, with the bus being driven by an electric motor.

If you sit in the back of one of these buses, you can sometimes hear the engine stop and start.

In the following calculations, I’m going to assume that the bi-mode |Aventra with batteries has a power source, that can provide up to 200 kW, in a fully-controlled manner

Ballard can do this power output with hydrogen and I’m sure that to do it with a diesel engine and alternator is not the most difficult problem in the world.

So are Bombardier designing the Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, so that at a later date it can be changed from diesel to hydrogen power?

All an Aventra needs to run is electricity and the train, the onboard staff and passengers don’t care whether it comes from overhead wires, third-rail, batteries, diesel or hydrogen.

Bombardier  also have the technology for my proposed locomotive-based solution, where one driver-car of an Aventra is replaced by what is effectively a locomotive.

If Bombardier have a problem, it is that they have no small diesel train to replace Abellio’s small diesel trains. Could the longer services use the bi-mode Aventras and the shorter ones Aventras with battery power?

CAF

CAF probably have the technology, but there would be a lot of development work to do.

Hitachi

Hitachi have the bi-mode trains in the Class 802 trains, but haven’t as yet disclosed a hydrogen train.

Siemens

They’ve made a few noises, but I can’t see them producing a bi-mode train for 2022.

Stadler

In a few weeks time, I will be having a ride in a Stadler-built Class 755 train, run by Abellio Greater Anglia.

The Class 755 train is a bi-mode 100 mph train, from Stadler’s Flirt family.

Could it be stretched to a 125 mph train?

  • Stadler have built 125 mph electric Flirts.
  • It is my view, that Stadler have the knowledge to make 125 mph trains work.
  • Flirts are available in any reasonable length.
  • I’ve read that bi-mode and electric Flirts are very similar for drivers and operators.

These could work the Midland Main Line.

If the mainline version is possible, then Abellio could replace all their smaller diesel trains with appropriate Class 755 trains, just as they will be doing in East Anglia.

Stadler with the launch of the Class 93 locomotive, certainly have the technology for a locomotive-based solution.

East Midlands Railway would be an all-Stadler Flirt fleet.

As to hydrogen, Stadler are supplying hydrogen-powered trains for the Zillertalbahn, as I wrote in Zillertalbahn Orders Stadler Hydrogen-Powered Trains.

Talgo

Talgo could be the joker in the pack. They have the technology to build 125 mph bi-mode trains and are building a factory in Scotland.

My Selection

I think it comes down to a straight choice between Bombardier and Stadler.

It should also be noted, that Abellio has bought large fleets from both manufacturers for their franchises in the UK.

Zero-Carbon Pilots At Six Stations

This promise is stated in the franchise.

Once the electrification reaches Market Harborough in a couple of years, with new bi-mode trains, running on electricity, the following stations will not see any passenger trains, running their diesel engines.

  • St. Pancras
  • Luton Airport Parkway
  • Luton
  • Bedford
  • Wellingborough
  • Kettering
  • Corby
  • Market Harborough

These are not pilots, as they have been planned to happen, since the go-ahead for the wires to Market Harborough.

Other main line stations include.

  • Beeston
  • Chesterfield
  • Derby
  • East Midlands Parkway
  • Leicester
  • Long Eaaton
  • Loughborough
  • Nottingham
  • Sheffield

Could these stations be ones, where East Midlands Railway will not be emitting any CO2?

For a bi-mode train to be compliant, it must be able to pass through the station using battery power alone.

  • As the train decelerates, it charges the onboard batteries, using regernerative braking.
  • Battery power is used whilst the train is in the station.
  • Battery power is used to take the train out of the station.

Diesel power would only be used well outside of stations.

How would the trains for the secondary routes be emission-friendly?

  • For the long Norwich to Derby and Nottingham to Liverpool routes, these would surely be run by shorter versions of the main line trains.
  • For Stadler, if secondary routes were to be run using Class 755 trains, the battery option would be added, so that there was no need to run the diesel engines in stations.
  • For Bombardier, they may offer battery Aventras or shortened bi-modes for the secondary routes, which could also be emission-free in stations.
  • There is also the joker of Porterbrook’s battery-enhaced Class 350 train or BatteryFLEX.

I think that with the right rolling-stock, East Midlands Railway, could be able to avoid running diesel engines in all the stations, where they call.

Why Are Abellio Running A Hydrogen Trial?

This is a question that some might will ask, so I’m adding a few reasons.

A Train Manufacturer Wants To Test A Planned Hydrogen Train

I think that it could be likely, that a train manufacturer wants to trial a hydrogen-powered variant of a high-speed train.

Consider.

  • The Midland Main Line is about 160 miles long.
  • A lot of the route is quadruple-track.
  • It is a 125 mph railway for a proportion of the route.
  • It has only a few stops.
  • It is reasonably straight with gentle curves.
  • Part of the route is electrified.
  • It is connected to London at one end.

In my view the Midland Main Line is an ideal test track for bi-mode high speed trains.

A Train Manufacturer Wants To Sell A Fleet Of High Speed Trains

If a train manufacturer said to Abellio, that the fleet of diesel bi-mode trains they are buying could be updated to zero-carbon hydrogen bi-modes in a few years, this could clinch the sale.

Helping with a trial, as Abellio did at Manningtree with Bombardier’s battery Class 379 train in 2015, is probably mutually-beneficial.

The Midland Main Line Will Never Be Fully Electrified

I believe that the Midland Main Line will never be fully-electrified.

  • The line North of Derby runs through the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Would UNESCO allow electrification?
  • I have been told by drivers, that immediately South of Leicester station, there is a section, that would be very difficult to electrify.
  • Some secondary routes like Corby to Leicester via Oakham might be left without electrification.

But on the other hand some sections will almost certainly be electrified.

  • Around Toton, where High Speed Two crosses the Midland Main Line and the two routes will share East Midlands Hub station.
  • Between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield, where the route will be shared with the Sheffield Spur of High Speed Two.
  • The Erewash Valley Line, if High Speed Two trains use that route to Sheffield.

The Midland Main Line will continue to need bi-mode trains and in 2040, when the Government has said, that diesel will not be used on UK railways,

It is my view, that to run after 2040, there are only two current methods of zero-carbon propulsion; on the sections without overhead electrification battery or hydrogen power.

So we should run trials for both!

Abellio Know About Hydrogen

Abellio is Dutch and after my trip to the Netherlands last week, I wrote The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen, which describes how the Dutch are developing a green hydrogen economy, where the hydrogen is produced by electricity generated from wind power.

So by helping with the trial of hydrogen bi-mode trains on the Midland Main Line, are Abellio increasing their knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of hydrogen-powered trains.

In Thoughts On Eurostar To North Netherlands And North West Germany, I  proposed running bi-mode trains on the partially-electrified route between Amsterdam and Hamburg via Groningen and Bremen, which would be timed to connect to Eurostar’s services between London and Amsterdam. These could use diesel, hydrogen or battery power on the sections without electrification.

If hydrogen or battery power were to be used on the European bi-mode train, It would be possible to go between Sheffield and Hamburg on a zero-carbon basis, if all electric power to the route were to be provided from renewable sources.

Abellio Sees The PR Value In Running Zero-Carbon Trains

In My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint, I talked about running hydrogen-powered trains on a hundred mile lines at 60 mph over the flat German countrside

The Midland Main Line is a real high speed railway, where trains go at up to 125 mph between two major cities, that are one-hundred-and-sixty miles apart.

Powered by hydrogen, this could be one of the world’s great railway journeys.

If hydrogen-power is successful, Abellio’s bottom line would benefit.

Conclusion

This franchise will be a big improvement in terms of  carbon emissions.

As I said the choice of trains probably lies between Bombardier and Stadler.

But be prepared for a surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is This Stadler’s Plan For A Multi-Mode Future?

We have not seen any of Stadler’s bi-mode Flirts in service yet although Greater Anglia’a Class 755 trains have been rumoured to be speeding between London and Norwich in ninety minutes from this May!

Today, I rode on one of Stadler’s diesel GTWs between Groningen and Eemshaven in the Netherlands, which I wrote about in The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

GTWs are a diesel electric train with a power-pack car in the middle of the three car train. The diesel electric Flirts are a later train with a similar layout to the GTW.

So are the diesel GTWs and Flirts just a bi-mode without a pantograph? Or more likely the bi-mode is a diesel electric train with the addition of a pantograph and extra electrical gubbins.

Looking at the visualisations on Wikipedia of the bi-mode Class 755 train and the all-electric Class 745 train, it appears that the next-to-end car has the pantograph.

Are these cars with the pantograph identical on both the bi-mode and the all-electric versions? It would certainly be sensible from a engine erring point of view.

 

So could it be that all that is needed to convert a diesel electric Flirt into a bi-mode Flirt is to add the pantograph car and swap the power pack car for a bi-mode one? The old power pack car could then be converted into another bi-mode power pack car to convert another train.

But the power pack cars are not as simple as they look. They have four slots for diesel engines. Three-car and four-car Class 755 trains have two and four engines respectively.

I believe that one or more of the slots can be filled with a battery to create Flirts like the tri-mode ones proposed for South Wales.

So could we see some of the Greater Anglia Flirts converted in this way? Surely, Colchester Town to Sudbury could be a service that could benefit from battery power West of Marks Tey?

Today, I had a chat with a GTW driver, who said that the train he’d been driving was diesel-electric and that he had heard that batteries or hydrogen power could be used on the eoute.

The lines around Groningen seem to employ quite a few GTWs and distances are not overly long. So could some be converted to 1500 VDC electric/diesel/battery tri-modes? There is electrification at Groningen station and some of the bay platforms used by GTWs already have wires.

If the conversion is successful, then Stadler could be on a Swiss roll, as there are a lot of GTWs and Flirts out there, many of which are diesel-electric, like the one I rode today.

Would a train operator prefer to upgrade a diesel electric train that works well or buy a new bi-mode from another train manufacturer?

Could also an electric Flirt be converted into a bi-mode, by splitting the train and sticking a power pack car in the middle. Engineering common sense says that the passenger cars must be very similar to those of diesel Flirts to simplify manufacture of the trains.

We already know, that four-car Flirts are only three-car trains with an extra passenger car. Stadler could mix-and-match passenger, pantograph and power pack cars to give operators what they need.

Intelligent computer software would choose which power option to be used and the driver would just monitor, that the train was behaving as needed.

Looking at my route yesterday between Groningen and Eemshaven, it is a route of just under forty kilometres or twenty-five miles. Adrian Shooter is talking of ranges of sixty miles with battery versions of Class 230 trains. So I don’t find it impossible to create a tri-mode GTW or Flirt for this lonely route at the very North of the Netherlands.

Conclusion

Stadler seem to have created a very imitative modular train concept.

As some Flirts can travel at 125 mph, could they be serious bidders to provide the new trains for the Midland Main Line?

March 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Long Will A Class 345 Train Take To Go Between Two Stations Ten Kilometres Apart?

A Class 345 train has the following characteristics.

  • Maximum speed of 145 kph.
  • Acceleration of 1 m per second²

Using Omni’s Acceleration Calculator, I can calculate that, the train can accelerate up to full speed in 40 seconds.

Using the formula v²=u²+2as, this means that the train takes around 811 metres to get to 145 kph.

With regenerative braking, I suspect that a deceleration of the same order can be assumed.

So will it take 811 metres to stop from speed? I’ll use this figure until someone corrects me.

If the train is doing a start-stop over ten kilometres, then it will travel 8.4 kilometres at maximum speed, which will take about 3.5 minutes.

This means that the start-stop time will be 4.7 minutes.

Now I’ll look at a real example using a similar Greater Anglia Class 720 train.

These are 160 kph trains and typically work on the Great Eastern and West Anglia Main Lines with a similar operating speed.

The train will take 44.4 seconds to accelerate to operating speed and this will take 985.7 metres.

The distance between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations is 12894.8 metres.

So the full speed distance could be 10923.4 metres. This will take 4.09 minutes at 160 kph.

So the start-stop time will be 5.5 minutes.

Currently, the fastest train on this route I can find takes 10 minutes.

I suspect that somewhere in this, the time at the station will complicate matters, but I do think that the fast acceleration and deceleration of the new trains will contribute to faster schedules.

And it’s not just Aventras that have this fast acceleration!

This is an extract for the Wikipedia entry for a Stadler Flirt.

Acceleration also varies between 0.8 and 1.2 m/s2 (2.6 and 3.9 ft/s2)

If you’re worried about the G forces, this is taken from the Wikipedia entry for London Underground’s 2009 Stock for the Victoria Line.

 They have a higher top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), a faster maximum acceleration of 1.3 m/s2(4.3 ft/s2), a normal service deceleration of 1.14 m/s2 (3.7 ft/s2), and an emergency brake deceleration of 1.4 m/s2 (4.6 ft/s2).

These accelerate even faster and are used for over 200.000 million journeys a year.

To put in an example from motoring, a Mini Cooper S has a 0-60 mph time of 7.4 seconds, which is an acceleration of 3.62 m/s2

Conclusions

Possibly the most important thing to reduce journey times on a rail journey, is to make sure that the operating speed is as high as possible and trains running on the route must be capable of running at that speed.

Obviously, trains do the short journey in three sections.

  • They accelerate as fast as they can to the operating speed.
  • They cruise at the line speed.
  • They decelerate and brake, so they stop in the right place in the next station.

Dear Old Vicky has been doing this under computer control since, the line opened in the 1960s.

I gave an example from Merseyrail in Slow Trains Outside The South-East.

I said this.

The new Stadler Flirt trains are promised to save nine minutes between Southport and Hunts Cross stations, because they are better designed for passenger entrance and exit with faster speed and better braking and acceleration.

There is a corollary to all this.

So long as you have the energy on a train for fast acceleration, whether it is battery, diesel, electrification or hydrogen, it doesn’t matter for a faster service.

So alternatives to electrification are just as good!

 

August 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts

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.

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

It gives a few extra details about the Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts

The KeolisAmey document gives extra a few extra details.

I assume the following.

  • That 100% electric operation includes battery operation.
  • Batteries will certainly be used in the mile-long Caerphilly tunnel.
  • Batteries will be charged when running on electrified lines or by capturing regenerative breaking energy whilst descending to Cardiff.
  • The diesel engine will be used for primary power on the Vale of Glamorgan Line, which is without electrification and nearly twenty miles long?

There will be a lot of commonality between the two types of Flirts and I suspect driver and other staff training for the two variant will be the same.

How Big Will The Batteries Need To Be?

Consider a three-car Tri-Mode Stadler Flirt

  • I reckon, that the weight of the train will be around 130 tonnes.
  • Rhymney has an altitude of 287 metres.
  • I will assume 150 passengers at 80 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

This means that the train has a potential energy of 111 kWh at Rhymney station.

On the way down the hill from Rhymney the regenerative braking will convert this potential energy into electricity, which will be stored in the battery.

But also consider.

  • There will be losses in energy conversion in the regenerative braking process.
  • Energy will be used running the train’s systems.
  • Energy will be used stopping and starting the train at each station.
  • Energy will be used bringing the train through some sections without electrification.
  • Energy will be used keeping the crew and passengers comfortable.
  • Energy can be burned off using braking resistors on the roof of the train.

When you consider that the battery on a London New Routemaster bus, has a capacity of 75 kWh, I think it is highly likely, that Stadler can design a battery module to fit one of the two spare engine positions in the power-pack.

Now, consider a four-car Tri-Mode Stadler Flirt

  • I reckon, that the weight of the train will be around 150 tonnes.
  • Rhymney has an altitude of 287 metres.
  • I will assume 200 passengers at 80 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 16 tonnes.

This means that the train has a potential energy of 130 kWh at Rhymney station.

Looking at the weight of Bombardier’s 50 kWh batteries, I suspect that it would be possible to design a battery module with the following characeristics.

  • 100 kWh capacity
  • A weight less than that of the Deutz engine, which is around 1.3 tonnes.
  • Plug compatibility with the diesel engine.

Doing this calculation with real data, is the sort of mathematics that I relished doing in my twenties.

How Far Would A Full 100 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 100 kWh battery would take a three-car train between six and ten miles. It might even take the train from Cardiff to Barry Island or Penarth and back..

Conclusion

It looks a very interesting concept.

  • Most of the energy is provided by the electrification, which would power the train up the hill.
  • Coming down the hill, the batteries would be recharged using the regenerative braking.
  • Battery power would used to take the train on routes without electrification to the West and South of Cardiff.
  • When the battery power was low, the diesel engines would cut in.

Energy efficiency would be high.

 

 

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 9 Comments

Stadler Flirt DEMUs

Over a thousand Stadler Flirts have been sold to operators around the world. Most have been or will be built in Switzerland.

Greater Anglia

The first fleet in the UK, comprise fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia.

This visualisation shows a Class 755 train in Greater Anglia livery, running through the typical flat lands of East Anglia.

These trains will enter service next year.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They can run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • They have a diesel power-pack, which can have up to four Deutz diesel engines, for running on lines without electrification.
  • The three-car trains have two diesel engines and the four-car trains have four engines.
  • They can change power source at line speed.
  • Length is easily changed, by adding or removing cars.
  • Three-car Flirts have 166 seats and four-car Flirts have 224 seats.
  • They are designed to handle two-hour plus journeys, like Lowestoft to London for Greater Anglia.

I suspect they are fairly powerful trains and I wrote about this in Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains Seem To Have Bags Of Grunt.

Comparing the trains with a Class 170 train, I said this.

But the four-car Class 755/4 trains have fifty percent more power per car, than the Class 170 train, so these will be no sedate rural trundlers.

I’m certain, that their performance, will allow them to mix it on the Great Eastern Main Line with the London-Ipswich-Norwich expresses.

KeolisAmey Wales

From the pictures, the trains, that will be delivered to KeolisAmey Wales, look very much like the trains, that have been ordered by Greater Anglia.

The trains will operate services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.

I would assume that the trains will use diesel, where there is no electrification. One current service goes between Maesteg and Cheltenham Spa stations. On the South Wales Main Line between Cardiff and Seven Tunnel Junction, the trains would use the 25 KVAC  overhead wires, but at both ends of the route, they would use diesel.

One great advantage of bi-mode trains like these Flirts, is that as more electrification is added, they can take advantage.

I’m certain, that their performance, will allow them to mix it on the South Wales Main Line with the London-Newport-Cardiff-Swansea expresses.

Aosta Valley

A European version of the train will start to operate soon in the Aosta Valley in Italy, so when the trains for Wales are delivered, there will be lots of operational experience. Especially with climbing steep hills!

Norway

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitled Bi-Modes In Norway’s Next Flirt Order.

The bi-modes will be used around Trondheim, on routes without elewctrification.

What does Norway have a lot of? Mountains!

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Greening Of The Valleys

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

The documents gives these two definitions.

  • South Wales Metro – Includes the full set of local services around South East Wales. This includes what is currently known as the ‘Valley Lines’, plus services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.
  • Central Metro -Refers to the sub-set of the South Wales Metro train services which run from Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Radyr, Rhymney and Coryton, through Queen Street to Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Central, Penarth, Barry Island and Bridgend.

For these services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 x four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 x three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 x four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 x three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

This diagram from the document shows the routes and the frequencies.

They also say the following surrounding the map in the document.

  • Maintains all existing connections to Cardiff Queen Street and Cardiff Central stations.
  • Service pattern easy to understand
  • Most frequencies even in the hour ‘clockface’ (e.g. 00-15-30-45 past)
  • Vale of Glamorgan, Barry, Penarth and City Lines integrated into Central Metro solution.
  • 2tph from Pontypridd station ‘divert’ via City Line but don’t terminate at Central i.e. Aberdare – City Line – Central – Merthyr

Note that Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney and Treherbert stations all get a total of four trains per hour (tph)

The Trains In More Detail

Stadler Rail are building the three fleets of rail vehicles.

Stadler Flirt DEMUs

Over a thousand Stadler Flirts have been sold to operators around the world. Most have been or will be built in Switzerland.

From the pictures, the trains, that will be delivered to Wales, look very much like the Class 755 trains, that have been ordered by Greater Anglia. These trains will enter service next year.

Stadler Flirt DEMUs gives more details of these trains and the closely-related fleets.

The trains will operate services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.

Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts

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

Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts gives more details of these trains and how I think they will operate.

The Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts are intended for Rhymney/Coryton <> Penarth/Barry Island/Bridgend via the Vale of Glamorgan Line.

There will be a lot of commonality between the two types of Flirts and I suspect driver and other staff training for the two variants will be the same.

Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles in the KeolisAmey document. look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the heavy rail network to Rotherham.

Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles gives more details of these trains and how I think they will operate.

From Cardiff Queen Street To The Flourish

It looks like the Metro vehicles will use the batteries for power on the extension to the new terminal station at The Flourish.

I describe the proposal for the extension to the Flourish in The Flourish Station Is The Focus Of The South Wales Metro.

Electrically-Efficient Operation Of The Metro

I have a feeling that Stadler are bringing some of their mountaineering experience from Switzerland to the valleys of South Wales.

It is interesting that both the Tri-mode Stadler Flirts and the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles will have batteries.

Climbing The Hills

The main purpose of the batteries is to make the climb and descent to the terminals at the heads of the valleys as energy efficient as possible.

Efficient climbing of the hills will need all uphill tracks to be electrified.

The KeolisAmey document states this about the electrification.

Discontinuous overhead line electrification to 25 KVAC with permanently earthed sections around restricted structures, saving 55 interventions e.g. rebuilding bridges/no need for wire in Caerphilly tunnel.

Battery power would be invaluable for jumping the gaps in the electrification.

Coming down, I believe that the trains and tram-trains will use the batteries to handle the energy generated by regenerative braking.

This means.

  • The electrification can be simpler.
  • There might be no need to electrify the downhill track in double-track sections.
  • Trains can use the battery power  to cross sections without wires or restarting from stations, when going downhill.
  • Tram-trains going to The Flourish will arrive at Cardiff Queen Street station with enough energy in the batteries for the return trip to The Flourish.
  • The Cardiff Bay Line doesn’t need to be electrified, which saves money and possibly increases safety and reduces visual intrusion.

It is not only energy efficient, but it saves construction costs and time.

Why Aren’t Citylink Metro Vehicles  Used On The Rhymney Line?

There are several possible reasons.

  • Calculations have shown, that the battery capacity of the smaller Citylink vehicle might not be enough to go uphill through the Caerrphilly tunnel.
  • The route may need more powerful vehicles.
  • More capacity may be needed on this line, so the larger Tri-mode Stadler Flirts will be used.
  • The Flirts could use their diesel engines to rescue a train stuck in the tunnel.

But whatever the reason, I’m sure it’s a good one!

Could Downhill Tracks Not Be Electrified?

I think this may be possible, as vehicles coming down the hills could use gravity and small amounts of battery power.

Regenerative braking would also be continuously charging the batteries.

It would certainly be simpler, than having to constantly swap between overhead and battery power on the descent, where the electrification was discontinuous.

As the lines are going to have a more intensive service, there will be additions of a second track in places to allow trains to pass.

Any electrification that could be removed from the project would be beneficial in terms of building and operational costs.

How Would Discountinuous Electrification Be Handled?

I discus this in How Can Discontinuous Electrification Be Handled?

The Lines In More Detail

Click these links to find out more about the individual lines.

Rhymney Line

Conclusion

The two types of compatible vehicles, allows the plans for the South Wales Metro to be a cost-effective and very green solution for Cardiff’s transport needs.

It is a model, that can be used elsewhere.

Will railway engineers in future talk of the Cardiff Model, just as they talk of the Karlsruhe Model?

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Reason Why The UK Is Fertile Territory For Tram Trains

The UK has several modern tram systems. If you look at the cross section of trams you get the following figures.

I wonder why Nottingham is twenty-five centimetres narrower!

If you look at the Class 399 tram-train, it has a width of 2.65 metres and a height of 3.67 metres.

So no wonder, there has been no problems with Class 399 tram-trains running on the Sheffield Supertram as trams!

Various trains that run local rail networks include.

  • Class 142 – Width 2..8 metres – Height 3.86 metres
  • Class 150 – Width 2.8 metres – Height 3.8 metres
  • Class 222 – Width 2.73 metres
  • Class 319 – Width 2.82 metres – Height – 3.58 metres
  • Class 345 – Width 2.78 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 378 – Width 2.80 metres – Height 3.78 metres
  • Class 700 – Width 2.80 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 769 – Width 2.82 metres – Height 3.58 metres
  • Mark 4 Coach – Width 2.73 metres – Height 2.79 metres

These are some figures from German trains.

  • DBAG 641 – Width 2.90 metres – Height 3.7 metres
  • BD Class 420 – With 3.08 metres
  • ICE 3 – Width 2.95 metres – Height 3.89 metres

I’ll look at various issues.

Tram And Train Height

I think this is not a big issue.

If a tram or electric train can run on a particular track, then there should be no height problems running a tram-train over the route, providing overhead wires can be erected.

UK Tram And Train Width

It would appear that the maximum width of UK trains is 2.82 metres. In some stations, where there is only one class of train, level access is possible.

The picture shows a Class 378 train on the London Overground.

This is not one of the best I’ve seen, but there is no reason, why someone in a wheelchair shouldn’t be able to wheel themselves into every train at every station.

This is in the train operating company’s interest, as one of the things that delays trains, is getting someone in a wheelchair on and off the train with a portable ramp.

If we take the UK train width of 2.82 metres and compare that to the width of a Class 399 tram-train, which is 2.65 metres, that means that there is seventeen  centimetres difference or eight and a half centimetres on each side of the train.

If the platform can be arranged to be level, that is not a large gap. It’s probably about the same size as this gap in this picture.

Shown is a Class 399 tram-train at a tram stop on the Sheffield Supertram.

Continental Tram And Train Width

But on the Continent, where the trains are wider and the loading gauge is bigger, the gap will be larger.

Trains on the Continent also often have a significant step up as this picture shows.

Shown is an Italian High Speed train.

If the EU wanted to improve train travel for the disabled, those in wheelchairs, those with buggies and the elderly, they should make it compulsory for all trains to have level access from the platform.

It’s very rare to find level access on the Continent and not that easy in parts of the UK.

Gap Fillers

But things are getting better, as this picture shows.

Shown is a Stadler Flirt with a rather nifty automatic gap filler.

Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains

Gap fillers will be fitted to Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains, which are being built by Stadler.

The Class 777 trains and the current Class 507 trains have the same width of 2.82 metres, but the new Stadler trains have an eighteen centimetre lower floor.

The picture shows a Class 507 train at one of Liverpool’s underground stations.

Eighteen centimetres wouldn’t be far away from the height of the step in the picture.

The design must also allow both classes of trains to be in service at the same time, to ease introduction of the new Class 777 trains.

Talk about Swiss precision!

South Wales Metro

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

For services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 – four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 – three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 – four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 – three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

Note.

  1. The Stadler Flirts look very similar to Greater Anglia‘s Class 755 trains, that by the time of delivery of these trains for Wales, will have proven themselves on the mountains of East Anglia.
  2. The tri-mode multiple units will be able to run on electric, diesel or battery power.
  3. The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the rail network to Rotherham.
  4. It is an all-Stadler fleet.

This is a clip from the KeolisAmey document.

This looks like a visualisation of one of the Flirts, as the Citylink tram-trains have flat sides.

I will be very surprised if Stadler don’t provide the Cardiff area, with one of the best step-free networks in the world.

Conclusion

The UK’s standard tram width of 2.65 metres and our small loading gauge must make it easier to design tram-train systems for the UK.

 

 

 

 

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

More Information From The International Railway Journal About The New Wales And Borders Franchise

In Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story, I said I needed more information on what was happening with the new Wales and Borders franchise.

This article on the International Railway Journal is entitled £800m fleet renewal plan for new Welsh franchise, gives a lot more serious information.

These two paragraphs outline the plans.

According to the Welsh government, around £800m will be invested in rolling stock to ensure that by 2023, 95% of journeys will be made on a new fleet of 148 trains. The average age of the fleet will drop from 25 years to seven years by 2024.

More than half of the new trains will be assembled in Wales, indicating a major order will be placed with CAF, which is currently building a new assembly plant near Newport.

The article then goes on to make specific points.

Class 769 Trains

Class 769 trains will be used as a stop-gap measure until the arrival of new bi-mode trains.

Five of these trains are on order for delivery in the next eighteen months.

Class 230 Trains

Class 230 trains will join the fleet.

Perhaps they will be used on the Conwy Valley Line.

The line is rather isolated from depots at Cardiff, Chester and Machynlleth, which would find the Class 230 trains remote servicing capabilities useful.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales states that the Class 230 trains will work the Borderlands Line, which will have a two trains per hour (tph) frequency.

As the journey takes an hour each way with a round trip possible in two hours, I suspect that a two tph frequency will need four trains, with perhaps a fifth one ready to step into service.

Again the remote servicing capability of the Class 230 train will come into play, as will the train’s affordability.

Class 170 Trains

Several Class 170 trains will join the fleet.

These could be coming from Greater Anglia, who currently have twelve of the trains, that will be replaced by Class 755 trains.

This page on the Welsh Government web site, contains this sentence.

On the Heart of Wales line, introduce refurbished Class 170 two-car units by 2022.

If you want to find out more about train services in Mid and South-West Wales, the page is well-worth a read.

Mark 4 Carriages

Mark 4 Carriages released from the East Coast Main Line will replace the current Mark 3 Carriages.

Phasing Out Of Diesel Multiple Units

The article makes these two points.

The only ones worth keeping could be the Class 158 trains, most of which if fitted with wi-fi would be acceptable on many routes.

New Diesel Multiple Units For Long Distance Services

The article says that new diesel multiple units will be introduced on these routes.

  • North Wales Coast and Cambrian lines in 2022
  • Milford Haven – Manchester route by 2023

This page on the Welsh Government web site, also says a new Swansea to Manchester service will be introduced from 2024.

In Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story, I suggested that Class 755 trains could be used on these routes.

  • They have similar performance to the Class 175 trains.
  • Length and power can be tailored for each route. Greater Anglia have ordered two sizes.
  • As they are bi-modes, they could take advantage of the electrification East of Cardiff and around Birmingham and Manchester.

But the biggest thing in favour of Class 755 trains, is that the thirty-eight units for Greater Anglia are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. So if the Welsh trains are virtually identical to those for Greater Anglia, there would not be any serious certification problems.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales indicates that these trains could be diesel versions of the CAF Civity.

The South Wales Metro

The IRJ article says that £738 million will be invested in this project.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales gives a few more details of train frequencies.

This is an increase in frequency.

It appears there will be two distinct sections of this network, which I’ll discuss in the next two sub-sections.

An Electric Network On The Cardiff Valley Lines

The IRJ article says this.

A new fleet of low-floor vehicles offering level boarding will be introduced on the network by December 2022.

I think we can assume this about the vehicles.

  • They will be tram-trains.
  • They will have batteries.
  • They will be able to use 750 VDC and 25 KVAC electrification.
  • There will be a proportion of street running in Cardiff.

It would also be highly likely, that these vehicles will be built by CAF, in their new Newport factory. Wikipedia mentions a tram-train version of their Urbos trams, which are used in Edinburgh and the Midlands, which is called an Urbos TT.

A Complimentary Tri-Mode Network

The article says this.

A new fleet of Stadler “tri-mode” (electric/diesel/battery) multiple units will maintain links from Penarth, Barry and Bridgend to stations north of Cardiff Central. These trains will enter service from December 2023.

It looks from the pictures that these will be a version of the Class 755 trains.

In From Novara To Aosta, I described the route, where similar Stadler trains will be used on the Chivasso-Ivrea-Aosta railway to reach the town of Aosta. I would suspect that the Italian route could be more challenging, than anything South Wales has to offer.

The Heads Of The Valleys Stations Will Be Served By CAF’s Tram-Trains And Stadler Tri-Modes

It would appear from Wikipedia, that the stations at the heads of the valleys will have the following frequencies.

These frequencies and some single-platform terminal stations, will mean that careful design must be applied, so that all vehicles have level access from platform to vehicle.

This picture shows the access to a Stadler Flirt in Italy.

Note the gap filler, which automatically moves into place.

I’m sure engineers and designers working for KeolisAmey, CAF and Stadler can come up with a very good solution.

Will The Valley Lines Be Electrified With 25 KVAC?

I think it is highly likely that CAF’s vehicles for the tram section of the South Wales Metro will be tram-trains with a dual 750 VDC/25 KVAC capability and batteries.

Imagine one of these vehicles climbing to say Aberdare using the Merthyr Line, which is a mixture of single and double-track to Cardiff.

Going up to Aberdare, due to the gradients, the vehicles will need access to electrical power, so electrification is necessary, unless each vehicle has a massive diesel generator or ultra-large battery, which are respectively not very environmentally friendly or practical.

But I doubt it will matter if the electrification is 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.

Going down the valley to Cardiff, I believe that CAF’s vehicles will use Newtons friend; gravity and regenerative braking to control the speed. The energy generated by the braking would be stored in an onboard battery.

CAF have all the technology and it would be extremely energy efficient.

The Stadler tri-modes would have to use diesel on the way up, but given they have batteries, I suspect they’d come down in a similar way to the CAF tram-trains.

So what voltage should be used?

  • The CAF tram-trains will probably be able to use either voltage.
  • If batteries are used to handle regenerative braking, this works with all voltages.
  • The Stadler tri-modes will probably need 25 KVAC.
  • Electrifying with 25 KVAC would allow the Stadler tri-modes to avoid a lot of running on diesel.
  • Any electric locomotives hauling freight would need 25 KVAC.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the valley lines electrified with 25 KVAC.

Will Only The Uphill Tracks Be Electrified?

I believe that if trains coming down the valleys use batteries for regenerative braking and restarting at stations, it may be possible to only electrify a single-track, that is always used for uphill trains.

But only the tracks for uphill trains were electrified, this would make the works easier and reduce costs and disruption to passengers.

Conclusion

It looks like KeolisAmey have got a well thought-out plan!

 

June 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Are The New Trains For The Aosta Valley?

One of the reasons I went to Northern Italy this week was to get a glimpse and a possible ride in the new Stadler Flirt trains for the Aosta Valley.

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled Electro-Diesel Flirt Unveiled.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The first electro-diesel version of the Flirt multiple-unit family was unveiled at Stadler’s Bussnang plant in Switzerland on June 15, two years after the Valle d’Aosta region awarded a €43m contract for the supply of five units and the provision of five years of maintenance.

The Flirt3 units are scheduled to enter service on the Aosta – Torino route in May 2018. Bimode operation will remove the need for passengers to change trains at Ivrea to reach Torino Porta Susa station, where diesel operation is not permitted.

I didn’t see any sign of the trains, as I rode between Turin, Ivrea, Novara and Aosta, which were supposed to start services last month!

Perhaps, the trains have software problems?

 

June 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments