The Anonymous Widower

Rival Site For £100m Powys Rail Testing Project

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Powys County Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Plans to build a £100 million rail testing centre on the edge of Powys could be derailed by a rival plan in England, it has emerged.

The major testing facility at the former Nant Helen open cast mining site on the border between Powys and Neath Port Talbot could face a rival application from German multinational Siemens, which has earmarked a site in Lincolnshire for a rival bid.

It seems, you wait many years for a rail test track and then two come along at the same time.

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

£18.75m Halton Curve Project Delayed A Further Six Months

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

I could just blame politicians for the latest project to be delayed, but it is not wholly their fault.

Train companies all over the UK, Europe and the Rest of the World have been ordering new trains at an unprecedented rate for the following reasons.

  • The replacement of clapped-out trains like Pacers.
  • Extra trains to provide extra services.
  • Faster trains to provide faster services.
  • Bigger or longer trains to provide more capacity.
  • New electric trains for newly electrified routes.
  • New trains often cost less to service and maintain.
  • Affordable finance for quality new trains is available in billions of pounds, euros and dollars of all kinds.

In addition a lot of trains are being updated with new technology like signalling, automatic systems and high-technology interiors.

All of these factors mean that there is a high level of train testing that needs to be done.

These test tracks are in Europe and listed in Wikipedia.

Note that Italy and Soain, who build substantial numbers of trains, don’t have a specialist testing centre.

I have read somewhere that each individual train has to be run for so many hours before it can be certified for service.

Consider

  • Bombardier is building 412 Aventras with lengths between three and ten cars.
  • CAF is building trains for Calodonian Sleeper, Keolis Amey Wales, Northern, TranPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
  • Hitachi is building 182 Class 800/801/802 trains with length of five or nine cars.
  • Hitachi is building 80 Class 385 trains with lengths of 3/4 cars.
  • Siemens are building trains for Govia Thameslink Railway.
  • Stadler is building trains for Greater Anglia, Keolis Amay Wales and MerseyRail.

I haven’t done a detailed calculation must it must be at least 700 trains.

In addition there are various rebuilt and existing trains that will need to be tested.

  • ScotRail’s shorterned InterCity 125s
  • Porterbrook’s Class 769 trains.
  • Vivarail’s Class 230 trains.
  • Alstom’s Class 321 Hydrogen trains.
  • Crossrail Class 345 trains need further testing.

And there will be new orders for the following franchises and lines.

  • East Midlands.
  • London Underground Piccadilly Line.
  • South Eastern
  • West Coast Alliance

I haven’t done a detailed calculation but we must be talking of nearly a thousand new trains of which probably six hundred will be delivered in the next five years.

I’m no expert, but I feel that two short test tracks and short lengths of improvised test tracks in factories, isn’t enough to test all these trains and certify them for service.

I should also blow my own trumpet and I know that when I wrote project management software, I was probably the best programmer in the World, at automatically scheduling resources.

So I tend to know, an impossible scheduling problem, when I see one!

Conclusion

We do send trains to Europe to specialist centres like the one at Velim in the Czech Republic. But these centres are also used by other European manufacturers.

I am led to the inevitable conclusion, that we need more train testing facilities, in both the UK and mainland Europe.

The Welsh Government has come to the same conclusion and are planning a test track at Neath, which I wrote about in £100m Rail Test Complex Plans For Neath Valley.

What would help, would be if Chris Grayling oiled a few wheels with some money. It might even result in some Continental trains coming to Wales for specialist testing like curing them of dracophobia.

I would also have felt that CAF would be happy with a test track fifty miles away from their new factory in Newport.

Come on, Wales! Fire up the dragons and get started!

 

 

September 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Alstom Use The Buxtehude To Cuxhaven Route As A Test Route For The iLint Train?

I think there are various factors that could make the route between Buxtehude and Cuxhaven stations an ideal test route for hydrogen-powered iLint trains.

Bremervörde Depot

This Google Map shows the area of Bremervörde station.

There appears to be a lot of space.

In this article on Railway Technology, which is entitled iLint: The World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Train, this is said.

As part of the deal, Alstom will provide maintenance for the trains over a 30-year period. Meanwhile, leading gas company Linde will supply hydrogen for the new trains and erect the first-ever hydrogen filling station for trains in Bremervörde. The plan is that hydrogen will be produced onsite via electrolysis and wind energy at a later stage of the project.

As I passed through Bremervörde station, on my trip to the line at the weekend, I took this picture.

There would be plenty of space for the proposed hydrogen plant and to stable both the working fleet and any other trains, that were being tested for other places in Europe.

Linde would would only have to ensure that the hydrogen plant was sized for all future needs.

The Buxtehude To Cuxhaven Route

The route between Buxtehude and Cuxhaven has the following characteristics.

  • It is about a hundred kilometres long.
  • It is  mainly single track except for the section through Bremerhaven, where it has at least two electrified tracks.
  • There are passing places.
  • The scheduled service is one train per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • The line appears to have reasonably new signalling.
  • There are numerous level crossings.
  • I didn’t see any other traffic on the line, but I suspect there must be extra paths for freight, service trains, empty stock movements and a heritage service that uses part of the route.

I suspect that it could make an ideal test route, if extra trains could be squeezed in between the scheduled service.

Distance From the Salzgitter Factory

The Lint trains are built at in a factory at Salzgitter, which is between Hanover and Bruaunwieg, which is about four hours away.

The iLint trains could do this making their own small amounts of steam, but they would probably be dragged by a diesel locomotive.

Testing An Electric iLint

I think that we’ll eventually see a pantograph on the iLint, for one of three reasons.

  • It would allow running on overhead electrification to charge the battery and reduce hydrogen consumption.
  • It would allow creation of a diesel/electric hybrid version, that might be a lower capital cost alternative for shorter lines.
  • It would create a battery.electric hybrid for short extension routes.

Alstom could possibly create a range of solutions for a wide range of applications.

The Buxtehade To Cuxhaven route includes a section of electrified line, which would surely be ideal for the testing of these trains.

Conclusion

I think that Alstom will use the route to test hydrogen-powered trains.

 

 

September 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment