The Anonymous Widower

First Stadler FLIRT Train Receives Approval To Enter UK Service

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Railway Review.

This is the first paragraph.

The British railway regulatory authority, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has granted Stadler approval for the 24 four-car bimodal FLIRT (BMU) for Greater Anglia. For Stadler, this is an important milestone in the project. It is the first FLIRT in the UK to receive an authorisation for placing the train into service (APIS). The test runs with the train for use in the UK only began at the beginning of 2019. Thanks to the excellent cooperation between Greater Anglia, Abellio, Rock Rail, Stadler and the authorities, the approval was obtained in record time.

It does make a change for a train to be able to enter service without too much trouble.

I do think that Stadler, Abellio and Greater Anglia have had a few advantages.

  • These are the second fleet of Stadler bi-more FLIRTs, but could be the first to enter service.
  • The electrified route between Norwich and Diss has been able to be used as a dedicated 100 mph test rtrack during the night, when no scheduled services are running.
  • The trains are based at Crown Point depot, close to the Northern end of the test route.
  • Abellio run fleets of FLIRTs in The Netherlands.

There also doesn’t appear to have been any major problems to delay the testing.

From reports in the local daily newspapers, it also appears that staff are fully behind these new trains and enthusiastic about their arrival.

 

June 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Could A Modular Family Of Freight Locomotives Be Created?

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I looked at the possibility of creating a battery/electric locomotive with the performance of a Class 66 locomotive.

  • I felt that the locomotive would need to be able to provide 2,500 kW for two hours on battery, to bridge the gaps in the UK electrification.
  • This would need a 5,000 kWh battery which would weigh about fifty tonnes.
  • It would be able to use both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • It would have a power of 4,000 kW, when working on electrification.
  • Ideally, the locomotive would have a 110 mph operating speed.

It would be a tough ask to design a battery/electric locomotive with this specification.

The Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

Suppose I start with a Stadler Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle loading of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
  • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
  • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this about replacing the diesel-engine with a battery.

Supposing the seven tonne diesel engine of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced by a battery of a similar total weight.

Traction batteries seem to have an energy/weight ratio of about 0.1kWh/Kg, which is increasing with time, as battery technology improves.

A crude estimate based on this energy/weight ratio would mean that at least a 700 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 train and not make the locomotive any heavier. Given that lots of equipment like the alternator and the fuel tank would not be needed, I suspect that a 1,000 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 locomotive, provided it just wasn’t too big.

This would be a 4,000 kWh electric locomotive with perhaps a twenty minute running time at a Class 66 rating on battery power.

The Stadler Class 68 Locomotive

The Stadler Class 68 locomotive shares a lot of components with the Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 85 tonnes and an axle loading of 21.2 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking to a rheostat.
  • It has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

They are a locomotive with a growing reputation.

A Double Bo-Bo Locomotive

My devious engineering mind, thinks about what sort of locomotive would be created if a Class 68 and a Class-88-based battery/electric locomotive were integrated together.

  • It would be a double Bo-Bo locomotive with an axle loading of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • Battery power can be used to boost the power on diesel as in the Stadler Class 93 locomotive.
  • It would be nice to see regenerative braking to the batteries.

Effectively, it would be a diesel and a battery/electric locomotive working together.

This picture shows a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive pulling a heavy freight train at Shenfield.

If this can be done with a diesel and an electric locomotive, surely a company like Stadler have the expertise to create a double locomotive, where one half is a diesel locomotive and the other is a battery/electric locomotive.

A Control Engineer’s Dream

I am a life-expired Control Engineer, but I can still see the possibilities of creating an sdvanced control system to use the optimal power strategy, that blends electric, battery and diesel power, depending on what is available.

I feel that at most times, the locomotive could have a power of up to 4,000 kW.

The Ultimate Family Of Locomotives

I have used a diesel Class 68 and a Class 88-based battery/electric locomotive,, to create this example locomotive.

In the ultimate family, each half would be able to work independently.

In time, other members of the family would be created.

A hydrogen-powered locomotive is surely a possibility.

The Control System on the master locomotive, would determine what locomotives were coupled together and allocate power accordingly.

Conclusion

I have used Stadler’s locomotives to create this example locomotive.

I suspect they are working on concepts to create more powerful environmentally-friendly locomotives.

As are probably, all the other locomotive manufacturers.

Someone will revolutionise haulage of heavy freight trains and we’ll all benefit.

 

 

June 6, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 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

Stadler Rail to launch IPO

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

I feel that from an engineering point of view the company has a bright future, as they seem to have their fingers in a lot of innovative pies.

But whether that makes the company a good investment, I’ll leave to the experts.

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | | Leave a comment

Stadler Rail’s Specification For UK Trains

These are links to the pdf specifications of Stadler Rail’s products in the UK.

I shall add more as I find them!

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I looked at an electro-diesel freight locomotive with batteries instead of a diesel engine, as a freight locomotive. It would have the size and weight of a Class 70 locomotive and perhaps use similar technology to Stadler’s Class 88 locomotive.

I concluded the article like this.

It would be a heavyweight locomotive with a performance to match.

I believe that such a locomotive would be a very useful addition to the UK’s fleet of freight locomotives.

Stadler have not produced a battery/electric replacement for a Class 66 locomotive, but they have added a diesel/electric/battery Class 93 locomotive with a heavyweight performance to their Class 68/88 or UKLIGHT family of locomotives built at Valencia in Spain.

Details of the locomotive are given in this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Rail Operations Fuels Its Ambitions With Tri-Mode Class 93s. There is also a longerand more detailed  article in the print edition of the magazine, which I purchased today.

Reading both copies of the article, I can say the following.

A More Powerful Class 88 Locomotive

At a first glance, the Class 93 locomotive appears to be a more powerful version of the Class 88 locomotive.

  • The power on electric mode is the same in both locomotives at four megawatt. It would probably use the same electrical systems.
  • Some reports give the diesel power of the Class 93 locomotive as 1.34 MW as opposed to 0.7 MW of the Class 88 locomotive.
  • The Class 93 locomotive has a top speed of 110 mph, as opposed to the 100 mph of the Class 88 locomotive.
  • The article says, “It’s an ’88’ design with the biggest engine we could fit.”

It would also appear that much of the design of the two locomotives is identical, which must make design, building and certification easier.

The Class 93 Locomotive Is Described As A Hybrid Locomotive

Much of the article is an interview with Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive Officer of Rail Operations (UK) Ltd, who have ordered ten Class 93 locomotives. He says this.

However, the Swiss manufacturer offered a solution involving involving an uprated diesel alternator set plus Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries.

Other information on the batteries includes.

  • The batteries are used in regenerative braking.
  • Batteries can be charged by the alternator or the pantoraph.
  • Each locomotive has two batteries slightly bigger than a large suitcase.

Nothing is said about the capacity of the batteries, but each could be a cubic metre in size.

I have looked up manufacturers of lithium-titanate batteries and there is a Swiss manufacturer of the batteries called Leclanche, which has this helpful page that compares various batteries.

  • The page gives an energy density of 120-200 Wh/Kg for their traditional lithium-ion batteries and 70-80 Wh/Kg for LTO batteries.
  • But it gives LTO batteries a five-star rating, for charge power, discharge power and energy efficiency.

Leclanche also have a product called a TiRack63, which is intended for industrial applications, such as.

  • ,Grid stabilization in on-grid application
  • Providing short term power to cover the first seconds in a grid failure incident to industrial users.
  • Managing the integration of renewable energy (solar and wind) into off grid applications with diesel generators (e.g. mining),

The battery has the following characteristics.

  • 15000 charge/discharge cycles
  • 100 % depth of discharge.
  • Charging and discharging at 300 Amps.
  • Modular setup.
  • 510-810 VDC output.
  • 63 kWh capacity.
  • Size of 2300 x 1800 x 600 mm
  • Weight of 1800 Kg.

These batteries with their fast charge and discharge are almost like supercapacitors.

, It would appear that, if these batteries are used the Class 93 locomotive will have an energy storage capacity of 126 kWh.

But this is said about Class 93 locomotive performance..

LTO batteries were chosen because they offer a rapid recharge and can maintain line speed while climbing a gradient, and will recharge when running downhill.

Looking at the batteries, they could provide up to around 240 kW of extra power for perhaps half an hour to help the train climb a gradient and then recharge using regenerative braking or the diesel alternator.

This is a hybrid vehicle, with all the efficiency advantages.

The article does say, that with a light load, the locomotives can do 110 mph on hybrid. Nothing is said about what is a light load. Could it be a rake of five modern Mark 5A coaches?

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this.

It is worth looking at the kinetic energy of a Class 88 locomotive hauling five forty-three tonne CAF Mark 5A coaches containing a full load of 340 passengers, who each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies. This gives a total weight would be 331.7 tonnes.

The kinetic energy of the train would be as follows for various speeds.

90 mph – 75 kWh
100 mph – 92 kWh
110 mph – 111 kWh
125 mph – 144 kWh

The increase in energy is because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

There would be little difference in this calculation, using a Class 93 locomotive, which is only a tonne heavier. The kinetic energy at 110 mph, would be 112 kWh.

This could be very convenient, as it looks like the battery capacity could be larger than the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded train.

Similar Weight And Axle Load To A Class 88 Locomotive

The article states that the locomotive will weight 87 tonnes, as opposed to the 86 tonnes of a Class 88 locomotive.

As both locomotives have four axles, this would mean that their axle loading is almost the same.

So anywhere the Class 88 locomotive can go, is most likely to be territory suitable for the Class 93 locomotive.

Again, this must make certification easier.

A Modular Design

In a rail forum, members were saying that the Class 93 locomotive has a modular design.

So will we see other specifications with different sized diesel engines and batteries?

The TransPennine routes, for example, might need a locomotive with a smaller diesel engine, more battery capacity and a 125 mph-capability for the East Coast Main Line.

Stadler have said they specialise in niche markets. Have they developed the tailor-made locomotive?

Power Of Various Locomotives

These are various UK locomotives and their power levels in megawatts.

  • Class 43 – Diesel – 1.7
  • Class 66 – Diesel – 2.4
  • Class 67 – Diesel – 2.4
  • Class 68 – Diesel – 2.8
  • Class 88 – Electric – 4
  • Class 88 – Diesel – 0.7
  • Class 90 – Electric – 3.9
  • Class 91 – Electric – 4.8
  • Class 93 – Electric – 4
  • Class 93 – Diesel – 1.3

The interesting figure, is that the Class 93 locomotive has 76 % of the diesel power of a Class 43 locomotive from an InterCity 125. The difference could probably be made up using battery power, where needed.

Could The Locomotive Be Uprated To 125 mph?

Consider.

  • The UK has successfully run 125 mph Class 43 and 91 locomotives for many years.
  • Stadler has built trains that run at that speed.
  • Mark 3, Mark 4 and Mark 5A coaches are all certified for 125 mph.
  • There are hundreds of miles of track in the UK, where 125 mph running is possible.

I would think it very unlikely, that the engineers designing the Class 93 locomotive, ruled out the possibility of 125 mph running in the future!

Only Stadler will know!

Could A Battery/Electric Version Of The Locomotive Be Created?

I don’t see why not!

The diesel engine, fuel, exhaust and cooling systems and some ancilliary systems could all be removed and be replaced with an equivalent weight of batteries.

As the C27 diesel engine in a Class 88 locomotive weighs almost seven tonnes, I suspect a ten tonne battery would be possible.

Given the current typical energy density and using the Leclanche figures, this would mean that thr batteries would have a total capacity of around 700-800 kWh.

Possible Uses Of The Class 93 Locomotive

The Rail Magazine article goes on to detail some of the uses of a Class 93 locomotive.

Express Freight

Karl Watts says this.

They can operate express freight. In Europe, there are vehicles capable of 100 mph running, and these are perfect for high-speed domestic freight. We have been running intermodals at 75 mph since the 1960s – It’s time to change that.

The locomotive would certainly be able to haul express freight at 100 mph on an electrified main line.

Note the following.

  1. This would greatly help with freight between Felixstowe and London on the 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line.
  2. Running freight trains at 100 mph on the major electrified lines would increase capacity, of the lines.
  3. Ports and freight terminals wouldn’t need to be electrified.

Overall, the proportion of freight mileage, where electric power was used, would grow significantly.

Electrification Gap Jumping

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I gave a list of typical gaps in the electrification in the UK.

  • Didcot and Birmingham – Around two-and-a-half hours
  • Didcot and Coventry – Just under two hours
  • Felixstowe and Ipswich – Around an hour
  • Haughley Junction and Peterborough – Around two hours
  • Southampton and Reading – Around one-and-a-half hours
  • Werrington Junction and Doncaster via Lincoln – Around two hours
  • Werrington Junction and Nuneaton – Just under two hours

How many of these gaps could be bridged by a Class 93 locomotive working in a diesel hybrid mode?

It should be noted, that many of the busiest gaps are in the flatter Eastern areas of England.

I’m sure Stadler and Rail Operations Group have done extensive simulation of possible routes and know where the locomotives are best suited.

Class 66 Locomotive Replacement

I suspect that several of these locomotives will end up replacing duties currently done by Class 66 locomotives.

It could haul an intermodal freight from Felixstowe to Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow or Doncaster, using electrification where it exists.

And do it at a speed of 100 mph, where speed limits allow!

No other locomotive on the UK network could do that!

Use On Electrified Urban Freight Routes

Near to where I live there are two electrified lines passing through North London; the North London Line and the Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

Both lines have several freight trains a day passing through, that are still hauled by diesel locomotives.

There are other urban freight routes around the UK, where despite electrification, polluting diesel locomotives are still used.

Class 93 locomotives would be an ideal environmentally-friendly replacement locomotive on these routes.

Thunderbird Duties

Karl Watts says this.

They can be used for network recovery as a more comprehensive Thunderbird. Currently, stand-by locomotives are hired or used by an operator to rescue its own trains, but these would be available for anything or anyone. I have sopken to Network Rail about this and they need convincing. But as the network gets busier, so it will be that one failure causes chaos.

Perhaps, a better method for recovering failed trains could be developed.

Passenger Trains

Karl Watts says this.

I can say that the 93s’ feature n two franchise bids, although I cannot say which, due to non-disclosure agreements.

We can only speculate!

Class 93 locomotives could replace the Class 68 locomotives on TransPennine Express services between Liverpool and Scarborough, where Mark 5A coaches will be used.

  • Electric mode could be used between Liverpool and Stalybridge and on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Diesel or hybrid mode would be used where needed.
  • If the locomotives could be uprated to 125 mph, that would help on the East Coast Main Line.

There are certainly, redundant Mark 4 coaches or new Mark 5A coaches that could be used to provide services.

An InterCity 125 For the Twenty-First Century

The InterCity 125 is a masterpiece of engineering, that passengers love.

One of the reasons for the success, is the superb dynamics of the train, which gives them a very comfortable ride.

Could it be that by putting two Class 93 locomotives at each end of a rake of suitable coaches could create a 125 mph train, with the same faultless dynamics?

The answer is probably yes, but in many cases either half-length trains or bi-mode multiple units may be a more affordable or capable train.

The locomotive certainly gives a lot of flexibility.

Conclusion

This is going to be a very useful locomotive.

This was the last paragraph of the printed article, as spoken by Karl Watts.

I don’t think I will be ordering only ten or 20 – there will be more.

I have registered 93001 to 93050.

The word hybrid opens the door.

I think this might be the third member of a very large and widespread family.

 

 

 

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Johnson Targets A Bi-Mode Future.

As someone, who has examined the mathematics of battery-powered trains for several years, I wonder if the Age of the Hybrid Battery/Electric Locomotive is closer than we think.

A Battery/Electric Class 88 Locomotive

 After reading Dual Mode Delight (RM Issue 863), it would appear that a Class 88 locomotive is a powerful and reliable locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle load of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
  • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
  • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

It is worth looking at the kinetic energy of a Class 88 locomotive hauling five forty-three tonne CAF Mark 5A coaches containing a full load of 340 passengers, who each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies. This gives a total weight would be 331.7 tonnes.

The kinetic energy of the train would be as follows for various speeds.

  • 90 mph – 75 kWh
  • 100 mph – 92 kWh
  • 110 mph – 111 kWh
  • 125 mph – 144 kWh

The increase in energy is because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

Supposing the seven tonne diesel engine of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced by a battery of a similar total weight.

Traction batteries seem to have an energy/weight ratio of about 0.1kWh/Kg, which is increasing with time, as battery technology improves.

A crude estimate based on this energy/weight ratio would mean that at least a 700 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 train and not make the locomotive any heavier. Given that lots of equipment like the alternator and the fuel tank would not be needed, I suspect that a 1,000 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 locomotive, provided it just wasn’t too big.

A short length of electrification could be installed at terminal stations without electrification to charge the batteries during turnround.

This size of battery would be more than large enough to handle the braking energy of the train from full speed, so would improve the energy efficiency of the train on both electrified and non-electrified lines.

It would also contain more than enough energy to accelerate the train to line speeds that are typical of non-electrified routes.

TransPennine Express will soon run similar rakes of coaches hauled by Class 68 diesel locomotives between Liverpool and Manchester Airport and the North East.

The following sections of the Northern TransPennine route, are not electrified.

  • Stalybridge and Leeds – 35 miles taking 46 minutes
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles taking 18 minutes
  • Northallerton and Middlesbrough – 21 miles taking 29 minutes
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles taking 56 minutes

When running on these sections without electrification, consider the following.

  • The train consists of modern coaches, which must be energy efficient.
  • The train would enter the sections with a full battery, that had been charged using the 25 KVAC electrification on part of the route.
  • Scarborough and possibly Middlesbrough stations, would have means to charge the battery.
  • The train would enter the sections as close to line speed as possible, after accelerating using electrification.
  • Regenerative braking would help conserve energy at any planned or unplanned stops.
  • The driver will be assisted by a modern in-cab signaling and a very capable Driver Assistance System.
  • Stadler and Direct Rail Services must have extensive theoretical and measured data of the performance of Class 88 locomotives and the related Class 68 locomotive, when they are hauling trains across the Pennines, which will enable extensive mathematical models to be built of the route.

For these reasons and especially the last about mathematical modelling, I believe that Stadler could create a battery/electric locomotive based on the Class 88 locomotive, that would be able to bridge the electrification gaps on battery power and haul a five-coach train on the Northern routes across the Pennines.

A Quick Look At The Mathematics

As I said earlier, the weight of a Class 88 locomotive and five Mark 5A coaches, full of passengers is 331.7 tonnes.

There would appear to be little weight difference between a diesel Class 68 locomotive and an electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive, so in this rough exercise, I will assume the train weight is the same.

The current Class 185 trains, that run across the Pennines have the following characteristics.

  • Three-cars
  • A weight of 168.5 tonnes.
  • A passenger capacity of 169.
  • Installed power of 560 kW in each coach, which means there is 1560 kW in total.

If each passengers weighs 90 Kg, with all their extras, a full train will weigh 183.7 tonnes.

So a full train has a power-weight ratio of nine kW/tonne, which must be sufficient to maintain the timetable across the Pennines.

The diesel Class 68 locomotive, which will be hauling trains on the route in the New Year,  has an installed power of 2,800 kW, which gives a power/weight ratio of 8.4 kW/tonne.

I would be interested to know, if a Class 88 locomotive running in diesel mode with a power output of only 700 kW, could take one of the new trains across the Pennines. I suspect Stadler and/or DRS know the answer to this question.

But it would be a power/weight ratio of only 2.1 kW/tonne!

The challenging route is between Stalybridge and Leeds via Huddersfield, where the Pennines has to be crossed. I’m pretty certain, that all the other sections lack the gradients of the section between Stalybridge and Leeds.

So would a Class 88 locomotive with a 1,000 kWh battery be able to cross the Pennines with a full train?

Theoretically, up and down routes are good for battery/electric trains with regenerative braking, as energy used going uphill can be recovered on the other side.

The thirty-five miles between Stalybridge and Leeds take forty-six minutes, so for how long on this journey will the locomotive be applying full power? Perhaps for twenty minutes. If the locomotive applied an average of 2,000 kW for twenty minutes or a third of an hour, that would be 667 kWh.

With an electric multiple unit like an Aventra, where most if not all axles are driven and they can also contribute to regenerative braking, reasonably high rates of braking energy can be recycled.

But what proportion can be recycled, when the locomotive is doing all the regenerative braking. Any braking done by disc brakes on the coaches will result in lost energy.

As an aside, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that train manufacturers simulate train braking in order to develop braking systems, that turn less energy into wasted heat.

I’d also love to see a simulation using Stadler’s real data of a Class 88 locomotive with batteries attempting to cross the Pennines, with a rake of Mark 5A coaches!

  • What size of battery will be needed?
  • Can this battery be fitted in the locomotive?
  • Would distributing the batteries along the train increase performance?
  • Would short lengths of electrification on the route, increase performance?

I was doing problems of similar complexity to attempt to design efficient chemical plants nearly fifty years ago. We had our successes, but not as great as we hoped. But we certainly eliminated several blind alleys.

My figures don’t show conclusively, that a Class 88 locomotive with a 1,000 kWh battery instead of a diesel engine and all the related gubbings, would be able to perform services across the Pennines.

But.

  • Battery technology is improving at a fast pace.
  • Train manufacturers are finding surprising ways to use batteries to improve performance.
  • I don’t have access to Stadler’s real performance figures of their diesel locomotives.
  • Finding a way to make it work, has a very high cost benefit.

Who knows what will happen?

125 Mph Running

The Class 88 locomotive, has a similar power output to the 125 mph Class 91 locomotive of the InterCity 225 and I believe that the locomotive might have enough power, when running on 25 KVAC overhead wires to be able to haul the train at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I believe that it is possible to create a battery/electric version of the Class 88 locomotive, that should be able to take a rake of five Mark 5A coaches across the Pennines.

Timings across the Pennines would benefit substantially, without any new infrastructure, other than that already planned and the charging system at Scarborough.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Merseyrail’s Battery Intentions

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

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

This is a direct quote from the article.

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

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

It outlines strategies for the following routes.

Ellesmere Port And Helsby

The document says this.

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

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

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

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

Two trains are needed to run the service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It should also be noted about Helsby station.

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

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

Ormskirk-Preston Enhancements

The document says this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Borderlands Development

The document says this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bootle Branch Electrification

The document says this.

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

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

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

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

North Mersey Branch

The document says this.

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

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

Skelmersdale

The document says this.

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Merseyrail Reveals Latest Station Closures For Upgrade Work Ahead Of New Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Liverpool Business News.

This is the first paragraph.

Merseyrail has announced details of the next phases of station closures as it upgrades is platforms to make them ready its new £460m fleet of trains due to come into service in 2021.

In total, there are eleven phases of work to give all platforms level access to the new trains.

I am fairly sure that no other local rail network in the UK, will have this quality of level access.

Some stations on the London Overground have similar access, but not that many. When you consider, that many station platforms have been rebuilt and they are only used by Class 378 trains, I believe an opportunity was missed.

The article says this about Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains.

Swiss manufacturer Stadler has started the manufacturing process at its Szolnok plant in Hungary on the new fleet of 52 trains. There, the car-body production is under way with the units being machined, welded, sandblasted and coated in special protection and premium quality paint to combat corrosion, caused by the contact with sea-water.

Most of the current Class 507/508 trains are forty years old, but they appear to me to be one of the most bottom-friendly suburban trains in the UK, with desirable 2+2 seating. I regularly travel on Class 313 trains, which are similar trains of the same vintage, into and out of Moorgate, and these are scrapyard specials compared to Merseyrail’s spotless, spacious and comfortable trains.

These pictures from March 2017, show the current trains.

They certainly look to be in good enough condition to see all the new trains into service and through their inevitable teething troubles in the next couple of years.

Conclusion

,The care being taken by Merseyrail and Stadler in the preparation for and design of their new trains, seems to indicate that they are intending to get forty years out of the new fleet.

 

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment