The Anonymous Widower

HS2 Way Out In Front In Tunnel Design For High-Speed Rail

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

The article describes how Arup and Birmingham University are using physical and computer modelling to obtain the ultimate profiles of both tunnel portal and train nose to both increase train performance and reduce train noise as the trains enter tunnels.

They are even using a huge shed at the former British Rail Research Centre in Derby!

The biggest problem, is that there are aerodynamic effects, as the trains enter the tunnels at very high speeds, which result in what are inevitably called sonic booms, that disturb the local residents.

Because the new trains and tunnel portals are being developed together, there must be a greater chance, they will meet the objectives.

Collateral Benefits

Get the design right and there will be other benefits.

Lower Power In The Cruise

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I said this.

I have found this on this page on the RailUKForums web site.

A 130m Electric IEP Unit on a journey from Kings Cross to Newcastle under the conditions defined in Annex B shall consume no more than 4600kWh.

This is a Class 801 train.

  • It has five cars.
  • Kings Cross to Newcastle is 268.6 miles.
  • Most of this journey will be at 125 mph.
  • The trains have regenerative braking.
  • I don’t know how many stops are included

This gives a usage figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

This figure is not exceptional and I suspect that good design of the train’s nose will reduce it, especially as the design speed of High Speed Two will be 360 kph or 224 mph.

Reduced Noise

Stand on a Crossrail platform at say Southall or West Drayton stations and listen to the Class 801 trains passing.

They are only doing about 100 mph and they are certainly not quiet! Noise comes from a variety of sources including aerodynamics, overhead wires and running gear.

Could the nose and profile of high speed trains also be designed to minimise noise, when cruising at high speeds?

Reduced Pantograph Noise

Travelling at up to 360 kph, pantograph noise could be a serious problem.

The only way to cut it down, would be to lower the pantograph in sensitive areas and run the train on battery power.

But if the trains energy consumption could be cut to a much lower level, it might be possible for the cruise to be maintained on battery power alone.

Consider a journey between Euston and Birmingham.

  • The train would accelerate away from Euston and go in a tunnel to Old Oak Common.
  • Batteries could be charged whilst waiting at Euston and in the run to Old Oak Common.
  • Accelerating away from Old Oak Common would bring the train to 360 kph as fast as possible.
  • It would now cruise virtually all the way to Birmingham Interchange at 360 kph.
  • At the appropriate moment the pantograph would be lowered and the train would use the kinetic energy to coast into Birmingham Interchange.
  • There would probably be enough energy in the batteries to take the train into Birmingham Curzon Street station after the stop at Birmingham Interchange.

One technology that will massively improve is the raising and lowering of the pantograph at speed.

So could we see much of the long non-stop intermediate section being run on batteries with the pantograph down. If power is needed, it would raise to power the train directly. If the raising and lowering was efficient, then it might be able to use the pantograph only in tunnels.

Could It Be Possible To Dispence With Wires Outside Of Tunnels?

Probably not on the first phase of High Speed Two, but consider.

  • High Speed Two is designed to have a lot of tunnels.
  • Arup and Birmingham may come up with even better aerodynamic designs.
  • Pantograph raising and lowering will get faster and extremely reliable.
  • Battery technology will hold more electricity for a given weight and volume.
  • Dispensing with visible wires could reduce the problems of getting planning permissions.
  • Noise and visible intrision will be reduced.

I believe there will come a time, when high speed railways could be built without visible overhead electrification.

The only places, where electrification would be used would be in tunnels and stations.

Are There Any Other Applications Of This Research?

These are a few thoughts.

Hitachi Trains For The Midland Main Line

I’m suspicious, that the research or similar research elsewhere, might have already produced a very handy result!

In an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, more details of the new Hitachi bi-mode trains for East Midlands Railway (EMR) are given.

This is said.

The first train is required to be available for testing in December 2021 with service entry between April and December 2022.

The EMR bi-modes will be able to run at 125 mph in diesel mode, matching Meridian performance in a step-up from the capabilities of the existing Class 80x units in service with other franchises. They will have 24 metre vehicles (rather than 26 metres), a slightly different nose to the ‘800s’ and ‘802s’, and will have four diesel engines rather than three.

Could the new nose have been designed partly in Birmingham?

Consider.

  • Hitachi’s bi-modes for EMR InterCity could be running at up to 225 kph in a few years.
  • The Midland Main Line between Derby and Chesterfield goes through a number of tunnels in a World Heritage Site.
  • Hitachi have collaborated with UK research teams before, including on the Hyabusa.
  • Hitachi and Bombardier are submitting a joint bid for High Speed Two trains, which is based in Birmingham.

It should be noted that when the Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened in 1964 between Tokyo and Osaka average speed was 210 kph.

So are Hitachi aiming to provide EMR InterCity with almost Shinkansen speeds on a typical UK main line?

Arup and Birmingham University, certainly have the capability to design the perfect nose for such a project.

Aventras

Did the research team also help Bombardier with the aerodynamics of the Aventra?

I’m pretty certain, that somebody did, as these trains seem to have a very low noise signature, as they go past.

Talgo

Tsalgo are building a research centre at Chesterfield.

Will they be tapping in to all the rail research in the Midlands?

Conclusion

It looks to me, that there is some world-class research going on in Birmingham and we’ll all benefit!

October 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Spain Looking Both Ways On Brexit?

This article on the BBC is entitled Spain Brexit: PM Sánchez Threatens To Vote No Over Gibraltar.

The title says it all.

On the other hand, Spanish rail companies seem to be very keen to invest in the UK and also create new and innovative trains for the British market.

  • Amey, which is a subsidiary of the Spanish public company Ferrovial is heavily involved in big projects all over the UK, including the South Wales Metro.
  • The train builder; CAF, is supplying lots of trains and coaches for UK operators and building a factory at Newport in South Wales.
  • Another train builder; Talgo, is on the short list to build the trains for High Speed Two and is proposing to open a factory at Longannet in Scotland and a research centre at Chesterfield

It does appear, that big Spanish companies see the UK as a place to do business.

In connection with the Longannet factory, there is a feature article about the factory in Issue 866 of Rail Magazine.

This is the last paragraph.

As for Brexit, which is known to be a concern for other firms, Talgo said in a statement that its plans were “Brexit-free”, claiming there is a huge potential UK market as well as export opportunities.

The article also says that Talgo need more manufacturing capacity and the brownfield Longannet site, with its space and excellent access by rail and sea, fits their needs.

I also suspect that manufacturing in Scotland will help them secure sales in important English-speaking markets for their innovative high speed trains.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bi-Mode Trains In Prospect As HS2 Northern Routes Confirmed

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

Bi-Mode Trains On High Speed Lines

There are some, who believe that all trains should run on electrified lines.

But my belief is simpler – All trains should be electric, but they might be able to run on tracks with or without  electrification.

There are currently, four proven ways to provide traction power on board an electrically-driven train.

  • Diesel
  • Hydrogen
  • Gas Turbine
  • Stored energy – Battery and/or capacitor.

Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Talgo who are on the short list to build trains for High Speed Two, already make a train called RENFE Class 730, which has the following specification.

  • 2.4 MW on 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • 3.8 MW on diesel
  • Dual-gauge; Iberian and standard.
  • Eleven coaches
  • Maximum speed of 160 mph

High Speed Two is designed for 225 mph running, so the trains would need to be faster than these.

But suppose a train was to run say between Euston and Holyhead or any important place a hundred miles or so from High Speed Two.

It would be unlikely that the last part of the route without electrification, would be a high speed line, with a maximum speed in excess of 125 mph.

If it were a high speed line, then it would probably be electrified.

So a typical specification for a bi-mode for High Speed Two would probably be something like.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph on High Speed Two using the electrification.
  • Maximum speed of 125 mph on the alternative power source.
  • Ability to go between at least Crewe and Holyhead (84 miles) and back without refuelling.

Effectively, the train has two performance regimes; one for electrified high speed lines and one for classic lines without electrification.

A Possible Design For A Bi-Mode High Speed Train

Eurostar’s Class 374 train, which is one of the latest high speed trains is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Velaro e320, named because of plans to operate at 320 km/h (200 mph), would be 16 cars long, to meet the Channel Tunnel safety specifications but would have distributed traction with the traction equipment along the length of the train, not concentrated in power cars at each end.

Note.

  • Distributed power gives better acceleration and smoother braking.
  • The trains also appear to have at least six pantographs, so does that mean that each feeds a number of cars?
  • I suspect there will be an electrical bus running the length of the train which will feed the traction motors.
  • In my design of train, each car would have batteries and/or capacitors to handle the regenerative braking.
  • The energy storage would give the train a limited range away from electrification.

For the required range between Crewe and Holyhead, there would probably be a need for diesel or hydrogen power.

I feel though, that in this day and age, no-one would build a new train that used diesel, if they could get the performance from hydrogen power or some other clean source.

Perhaps one of the middle cars of the train could be a power car fuelled by hydrogen.

This should be something that works, as British Rail and Stadler have both used this layout successfully.

On What Routes Would The Train Be Used?

I have used the service between London and Holyhead as an example and this is probably the longest route away from High Speed Two.

Any route that is in range from High Speed Two or a connected electrified route, could be served by these trains, if it was so desired and the train could be run on the route.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these trains have the capability to go as far North as Aberdeen and Inverness.

Conclusion

Bi-mode high speed trains could be designed, if anybody needed them.

But for short extensions from High Speed Two, energy storage would probably suffice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

A Glimpse Of 2035

Today, I was on the first direct train between London and Dublin.

I arrived at Euston early for the eight o’clock departure time and took my seat in First Class of the train built by Spanish company Talgo at Longannet in Fife.

The train appeared to be little different to the High Speed Two trains, that I have ridden extensively since they started running in 2026.

What differences there were, were in the decor and colour schemes, with the train wrapped in a rainbow of colours reflecting the red, white and blue of the UK and the orange, white and green of the Irish Republic.

We left on time and after a brief stop at Old Oak Common to pick up passengers we were soon speeding towards Birmingham whilst eating breakfast. I had requested a gluten-free Full English and the quality showed how far railway food has come in the two decades.

Birmingham at 08:40

Running at 225 mph, the spectacular Birmingham International station was reached on time at 08:40 and there were quite a few passengers who left and joined.

Birmingham International

Since Heathrow’s plans for a third runway crashed in the planning process and the opening of Gatwick’s second runway, High Speed Two has enabled long distance travellers to use Birmingham Airport, which since the opening of High Speed Two in 2026 and its subsequent extensions to Manchester and Leeds, has grown at a fast pace.

As a jokey advert shown around the world by Visit Britain said, London now has three main airports; London South (Gatwick), London West (Heathrow) and London North (Birmingham).

On a recent trip to the Gambia, I used Birmingham Airport for both flights and coming back, I was in my house in East London, around an hour after I set foot in the terminal at the Airport.

High Speed Two and the expanded Birmingham Airport have certainly expanded and improved the economics of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.

Crewe Before 09:00

Next stop was Crewe station, which from today has been renamed Crewe International, to indicate that you can now get trains to England, Scotland, Wales and now Ireland.

The station is unrecognisable from the tired Victorian station, I first passed through in 1965 on my way to Liverpool University for the first time.

Like Birmingham and the West Midlands, the area around Crewe has benefited immensely from the arrival of High Speed 2 in 2027 and the continuing expansion of Manchester Airport.

From today, Crewe is now served by these trains in both directions, in each hour.

  • London – Belfast and Dublin
  • London – Glasgow (2 trains)
  • London – Liverpool (2 trains)
  • London – Preston

The ticketing and capacity is such, that Crewe now has a genuine turn-up and-go service to the capital, which is just under an hour away.

Preston At 09:20

The train was now on the upgraded West Coast Main Line and the train was limited to 140 mph, but Preston was reached on time, just eighty minutes from London.

When High Speed Two opened to Crewe in 2027, the journey time was a few minutes longer, but improvements to trains, tracks and signalling in the intervening years, had reduced the time.

On the journey from Crewe, the train had passed the massive construction site of the new Central Lancashire station, or as Scouse comedians have dubbed it – Wigan International.

This new  station will be a hub linking the following.

  • The West Coast Main Line
  • High Speed Three between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • The M6 and M62 motorways
  • Manchester Metrolink
  • Merseyrail

The station should have probably been built years earlier, when High Speed Three opened in 2026, but all forecasts of the number of passengers who would use the new High Speed Lines, were much lower than they were in practice.

Preston station like Crewe is a station  that has been rebuilt to handle two of the 200 metre long trains running as a pair.

These long platforms are now used at Preston to join and split some services, to give Blackpool, Blackburn and Burnley three fast services per day to and from London, in under two hours.

Carlisle At 10:20

We sped through the Lake District at 140 mph, to reach Carlisle in under two and a half hours from London.

It should be noted that timings North of Crewe have improved over the last couple of decades.

  • All passenger trains running on the fast lines North of Crewe are capable of matching the speed of the High Speed Two trains
  • Some of these trains used for services between Liverpool/Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh were built by Talgo to High Speed Two standards.
  • The few freight trains running in the day are now hauled by 125 mph electric locomotives.
  • The continuous upgrading of the Cumbrian Coast, Settle-Carlisle and Tyne Valley Lines has also allowed some trains to divert away from the West Coast Main Line.

Effectively, the West Coast Main Line North of Crewe has become a high-capacity 140 mph line.

Belfast At 11:30

When I saw that it was planned that trains would reach Belfast from London in the same time that it takes to go between London and Glasgow, I didn’t believe it would be possible.

But we arrived at the Belfast Parkway station on the outskirts of the City on time.

The journey between where we left the now-electrified Glasgow and South Western Line just to the West of Gretna to the bridge across the North Channel had been nearly all at 140 mph and there was little interruption before we ventured onto the bridge to Northern Ireland.

A few minutes later we were waiting to continue our journey at Belfast Parkway.

There had been political arguments about the gauge of the tracks on the thirty mile section between Scotland and Belfast.

But in the end the engineers got their way.

  • There is a standard gauge line as far as Belfast Parkway.
  • From Belfast Parkway, there is Irish gauge for the rest of the journey.

There would be no change of train at Belfast Parkway, as the Talgo High Speed Trains have had the ability to change gauge at a slow speed for thirty years.

Dublin At 13:30

This has been the slowest part of the journey, but we pulled into Dublin on time to a lot of celebrations.

Conclusion

This route has been a long time coming, since it was first seriously proposed in 2018.

There will be improvement in the next few years.

  • A service between Edinburgh and Dublin via Glasgow and Belfast starts next year.
  • The West Coast Main Line North of Crewe will allow faster and more trains.
  • The EU are funding and building a High Speed Line from the Irish border to Dublin.
  • This Irish High Speed Line will be linked to a new deep water port at Shannon.

I can see London to Belfast in three hours and London to Dublin in four.

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Spaniard In The Works!

Whilst it was pantomime season at Westminster today, with the usual fights over, who would be best at ruining this country, something more important was happening close by.

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled Talgo Names Longannet As Site Of New Train Factory.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Spanish train manufacturer Talgo plans to build trains in Longannet, in Scotland, after confirming that its preferred location for its UK factory will be at the site of the closed power station.

The company made the announcement at Westminster today (November 14), following an 18-month search for a UK site. It also confirmed that a Research and Development site would be built at Chesterfield, although it would not be drawn on the relationship between the two sites.

The article also says.

  • Up to a thousand will be employed at the Scottish site.
  • Construction starts in 2020.
  • Work on trains starts eighteen months later.
  • The factory will cost £40million.
  • The branch line to the power station could be developed and used by passenger trains.
  • The site was chosen because of good access by road, rail and sea.

The article is very much worth reading.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Did Or Does Brexit Affect The Investment?

Talgo are on the short-list for the trains for High Speed Two and have always said, that they would build the trains in the UK.

I suspect that if they were to be dropped from the short-list for High Speed Two or High Speed Two were to be cancelled, these would have a bigger effect. than Brexit.

What Are Talgo’s Strengths?

The company is strong on innovation and their trains are a bit different.

The picture of two of Talgo’s high-speed trains was taken in Seville.

I think it could be an AVE Class 102 train. They are nicknames pato in Spanish, which means duck!

I wonder why?

Talgo also makes trains, that can run on both Spanish and standard gauge, which enables trains to go direct between Madrid and Paris. The company is also targeting export orders in Russia and India.

They are very much an international company.

Why Choose Longannet?

If Talgo should get the order for the classic-compatible trains for High Speed Two, they have said the trains will be manufactured in the UK.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Joint Venture To Bid For HS2 Rolling Stock Contract.

This is an extract.

In November 2017 project promoter HS2 Ltd shortlisted Alstom, Bombardier Transportation UK, Hitachi Rail Europe, Patentes Talgo and Siemens for the rolling stock design, manufacturing and maintenance contract worth an estimated £2·75bn.

This would cover the supply of at least 54 trainsets with a maximum speed of 360 km/h for Phase 1 of HS2 between London and the West Midlands. The ‘classic compatible’ units would be able to run through from the new line onto existing infrastructure to serve destinations including York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The formal tendering process is due to start later this year, with the contract expected to be awarded in late 2019 and entry into service planned for 2026.

54 trains for a total of £2.75billion is not a small order.

And that is only this first order, as dedicated trains will be needed as well.

Talgo’s AVE Class 102 train already runs at 330 kph and trains can automatically join and split to make four hundred metre long trains, so they can probably demonstrate a train that would be suitable for High Speed Two.

Having a factory in Scotland would surely be a plus point in the bidding process.

Longannet also will have good access to the ports at Rosyth and Grangemouth, which could be a great help in importing anything from components or complete trains and perhaps exporting carriages and trains to places like Russia, which are easier by sea from Scotland, than from Spain.

Will Talgo Bid For Other Train Contracts?

Talgo have built 125 mph bi-mode trains in the past and there are other franchises that might need such a train.

  • Southeastern to add extra capacity to domestic services on High Speed One and serve Hastings.
  • Cross Country to replace their HSTs.
  • West Coast Main Line to replace Voyagers.
  • Midland Main Line to replace HSTs and Voyagers.

There could be other franchises and routes that could use their trains.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to this announcement than meets the eye!

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Talgo Explores Options For Building UK Test Track

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

This is the first paragraph.

A new UK test track, available to all companies, is being proposed by Spanish manufacturer Talgo as it looks to develop its standing in this country.

It is interesting that the ttrack will be available to all companies, but probably a sensible decision.

  • Hitachi have been testing some of their new Class 385 trains in Germany.
  • Porterbrook have been testing the new Class 769 train on the Grand Central, which is a herotage line.

So perhaps we do need another convenient test track!

As Talgo are bidding to make trains for HS2, the test track will probably need to be a bit longer than the thirteen miles of the cuirrent Old Dalby Test Track.

November 9, 2017 Posted by | Transport | | 3 Comments