The Anonymous Widower

A Trip To Skegness

Last Thursday, I took a trip to Skegness to get out of the heat.

I took these pictures on the way.

These are my observations and thoughts.

Changing At Grantham

A few minutes after getting off the LNER Azuma, the East Midlands Railway Class 156 train arrived at the opposite face of the wide platform.

Unlike some changes you get on trains in the UK, it was all rather painless and unhurried.

The change coming home was a bit slower, but there is a bar on the London platform, that serves a good selection of good beers.

Grantham To Skegness

The journey to Skegness took around an hour and a half and I arrived at 13:51.

Skegness Station

Skegness station is not the grandest, but it does have six platforms, which is probably a lot for just an hourly service from Nottingham and Grantham.

Skegness

I didn’t stay long, as it was surprisingly too cold and I hadn’t brought a coat.

Skegness To Grantham

The return trip was better, as the train was a more modern Class 170 train.

Surely, when East Midland Railways get their full quota of Class 170 trains, then the Poacher Line between Nottingham and Skegness will be one of the routes, where they will be used.

I also suspect that with 100 mph trains always running the service, as opposed to the Class 156 trains, which are only 75 mph units, there could be speed improvements on the line.

  • Grantham and Skegness is 58 miles.
  • There are a large number of level crossings.

An hour service between Grantham and Skegness could be possible and might generate more passengers.

Rolls-Royce MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

I wonder if this route could be improved by fitting the Class 170 trains with Rolls-Royce MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

  • The hybrid technology would have a lower fuel consumption and allow electric operation in stations.
  • The prototype hybrid is already working on Chiltern Railways in a Class 168 train.
  • The Class 168 train is an earlier version of the Class 170 train and they are members of the Turbostar family.
  • Rolls-Royce are developing versions of these hybrid transmissions, that will work with sustainable fuels.
  • As we have a total of 207 Turbostar trainsets, these could be a convenient way of cutting carbon emissions on long rural lines.
  • As Rolls-Royce MTU are also developing the technology, so their diesel engines can run on hydrogen, it is not outrageous to believe that they could be on a route to complete decarbonisation of this type of train.

I believe that we could see hydrogen-hybrid Class 170 trains, with a Rolls-Royce badge on the side.

The Massive Greenhouse

I found that this was owned by Fountain Plants.

Is Lincolnshire going to grow the UK’s greens? Or at least give them a good start in life?

More greenhouses like this will enable the UK to create our carbon dioxide and eat it!

 

 

July 17, 2022 Posted by | Food, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cutting Emissions – Cleaner, Greener Turbostars

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

It is a detailed technical description about how one of Chiltern Trains’s Class 168 trains has been converted to hybrid power.

This extract from the article gives the results of the conversion.

In July 2021, to celebrate Chiltern Railways’ 25th anniversary, the prototype was used to carry a number of invited guests to Bicester for a celebration lunch. The unit achieved speeds of up to 100mph during this demonstration run and operated with emission free battery power into/out of Marylebone and Bicester. The converted train is expected to reduce CO2 by up to 25%, nitrous oxide by up to 70%, particulates by up to 90% and fuel consumption by up to 25%. There was also an expectation that engine noise level will be reduced by 75%.

The article finishes by discussing how all 450 cars of the combined Class 168/170 fleet could be converted.

The article also hopes that the new Chiltern contract could lead to a full conversion of the fleet to hybrid operation.

It is an article well-worth a read.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 10 Comments

The TruckTrain

Note that I first came across the TruckTrain, when I wrote Innovative Composite Masts Look To Reduce Cost And Increase Efficiency Of Rail Electrification.

I have now decided that the concept could be so revolutionary, that it needs its own post.

The TruckTrain

TruckTrain is a concept with roots in Coventry University that could be off-beam enough to become a new normal.

The TruckTrain Web Site

The TruckTrain web site is the main source of information for the TruckTrain.

A sales leaflet for the TruckTrain can be accessed from the Home page.

The About page on the web site, gives this description of the TruckTrain.

TruckTrains® are short, fast, bi-directional self-propelled fixed freight train formations able to operate at passenger train speeds. Train sets can work in multiple in response to operational and commercial imperatives. Each vehicle is powered and all axles are powered to deliver the acceleration and braking required to achieve and to sustain this demanding level of performance. The initial configuration will use diesel-electric power to ensure freedom of operation over the national network. A hybrid design able to operate on electrified lines has also been developed together with an all-electric variant capable of extremely high-speed performance.

The Specifications page on the web site gives a detailed specification  of the TruckTrain.

These are my thoughts.

The Basic Design Concept

This leaflet on their web site describes the concept.

This visualisation at the bottom of the leaflet shows four TruckTrains forming a train carrying twelve intermodal containers, each of which I suspect are each 20 feet long.

Note.

  1. Each of the four TruckTrains appears to be carrying three intermodal containers.
  2. A 20 foot container is 6.096 metres long, so three are 18.288 metres long.
  3. Each TruckTrain has two bogies and four axles.
  4. The cabs at the two ends of each TruckTrain are different sizes.
  5. The longest carriages in use on the UK rail network are the 26 metre carriages used by Hitachi in their Class 800 and other trains.

I can deduce that with a twenty metre load space, a TruckTrain would accommodate any of the following.

  • Three twenty-foot containers.
  • A forty foot container and a twenty foot container.
  • Large numbers of pallets.
  • Ability to handle roll-cages as regularly used by supermarkets.
  • A curtain-sided load space.

Any of these would give six metres for the two cabs.

This should be enough space for two cabs, but there are other possibilities.

  • The longer cab could have a pantograph on the roof to use 25 KVAC electrification.
  • The space behind the driver cab in the longer cab could be used for power-train gubbins.
  • There must also be space under the load space for more power-train gubbins.

I feel certain, that an electrically-powered TruckTrain is more than a possibility.

The Width And Height Of A TruckTrain

This sentence from the Wikipedia entry for intermodal container, says this about their size.

Intermodal containers exist in many types and a number of standardized sizes, but ninety percent of the global container fleet are so-called “dry freight” or “general purpose” containers – durable closed rectangular boxes, made of rust-retardant Corten steel; almost all 8 feet (2.44 m) wide, and of either 20 or 40 feet (6.10 or 12.19 m) standard length, as defined by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 668:2020. The worldwide standard heights are 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m) and 9 feet 6 inches (2.90 m) – the latter are known as High Cube or Hi-Cube (HC / HQ) containers.

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

2-7 car Freight multiple unit capable of carrying combinations of 6 to 21 TEU of ISO containers, Hi-cube containers or swap bodies or 175 cubic meters of palletised cargo per vehicle with refrigeration available for both variants.

And the sales leaflet for the TruckTrain says this.

Performance and train path profile similar to a Turbostar passenger DMU.

Does that also mean that the width and height of a TruckTrain are no greater than that of a Class 170 train, which are respectively 2.69 and 3.77 metres?

It appears that international standards allow for a wagon floor height of 0.94 metres, which gives the following train heights to the top of the container.

  • Standard container – 3.53 metres
  • High Cube container – 3.84 metres

It will be a tight fit, but companies like Stadler use smaller wheels on some of their UK trains, which also have a height of 3.95 metres

I suspect that with a bit of selective bridge-raising TruckTrains will be able to go anywhere a Turbostar can go.

Connecting TruckTrains Together

The pictures of the TruckTrain on the web-site and the leaflet appears to show a standard multiple unit coupler like a Dellner.

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

2-7 car Freight multiple unit capable of carrying combinations of 6 to 21 TEU of ISO containers.

Is seven the maximum or just a marketing limit?

The technology and software to connect the trains and run them as a formation has been well and truly tested in many multiple units.

Motive Power Of TruckTrains

The About page for the TruckTrain says this.

The initial configuration will use diesel-electric power to ensure freedom of operation over the national network. A hybrid design able to operate on electrified lines has also been developed together with an all-electric variant capable of extremely high-speed performance.

As I said earlier, the pantograph could go on the roof of the longer cab for electric operation and the diesel engine could go under the load, as it does on most diesel multiple units.

I would think though, that one of the best variants would mount batteries under the load space.

Hydrogen would probably be a no-no, as this would limit the availability of the train to serve certain routes.

Performance Of TruckTrains

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

Maximum speed 140 kph for the inter-modal version, 160 kph for the pallet carrier.

As some of the routes, where these trains would be used is out of Felixstowe, where there is a 100 mph operating speed on the Great Eastern Main Line, I suspect that TruckTrains will sell better with a 100 mph (160 kph) operating speed on electric power.

125 mph Truck Trains

If they were running on a fully electrified route, I suspect the technology is available to run TruckTrains at 125 mph, which would make them ideal for parcels and light freight.

Manufacture Of TruckTrains

I don’t see that there would be many problems in manufacturing TruckTrains.

  • 100 mph (160 kph) bogies are readily available for freight trains.
  • A wagon manufacturer would probably be happy to design and build the chassis.
  • The cabs could possibly be a standard multiple unit design.
  • There shouldn’t be any problems with the power-train.
  • Multiple running and splitting/joining technology is very much proven.

Certified rail components would probably be available for other parts and uses.

Combi TruckTrains

Combi Aircraft is defined in Wikipedia like this.

Combi aircraft in commercial aviation are aircraft that can be used to carry either passengers as an airliner, or cargo as a freighter, and may have a partition in the aircraft cabin to allow both uses at the same time in a mixed passenger/freight combination.

Would a Combi TruckTrain have applications on some routes in the world, where a passenger route carries the occasional container up and down the route?

Several ideas might be possible.

  • The simplest would probably to have a twenty or forty foot passenger module, which could be lifted in and out like a standard intermodal freight container.
  • TruckTrains could also be built with the load space fitted out for passengers, so they became a Class 153 replacement, that could be coupled to a freight TruckTrain.
  • Could a TruckTrain be fitted out as a specialised work train to take workers and equipment to a work site, which had difficult road access?

It could almost be like a rail equivalent of Thunderbird 2.

Point-To-Point TruckTrains

The classic point-to-point train, could be run by someone like Toyota, where the engines for their cars are made in North Wales and the cars are assembled at Burnaston near Derby. I know there is a doubt over the future of Toyota’s engine plant, due to the stopping of manufacture of cars running on fossil fuels, but surely, an appropriate number of TruckTrains shuttling on the route would give advantages over a fleet of trucks, like, speed and reliability.

In the leaflet, they mention that the TruckTrain has been designed to use single-track short-terminals. These would surely be ideal for a company that decides to use TruckTrain as a point-to-point train between an important supplier and their main factory or distribution centre.

TruckTrains Could Use Stations

There has been a lot of talk recently about using major stations as freight terminals at night.

I doubt that a TruckTrain would have any problems using stations.

International TruckTrains

Why not? In Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation, I talked about an international freight movement, that would be ideal for TruckTrains.

TruckTrains And Ferries

Could we even see the revival of train ferries?

Imagine a terminal at a port in Ireland, which could load and unload containers between standard gauge TruckTrains and trucks.

  • A short length of standard gauge track would lead from the terminal to the quay, so that the TruckTrains could be driven on and off the ferry, either using a shunter or the TruckTrains’ own battery or diesel power.
  • On the other side of the water, the TruckTrain would use the UK railways to get to its destination.

This concept would allow freight to go between most of Western Europe and Ireland with only a transfer to and from trucks at both ends.

It could even be improved with dual-gauge TruckTrains, which might be able to run between Ireland and Spain, through the Channel Tunnel.

Conclusion

I like the concept and I can’t see why it would not be successful worldwide.

 

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Agreement Will Drive Rail Decarbonisation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Porterbrook.

This is the important part of the press release.

Rolls-Royce is teaming up with Porterbrook to identify and develop technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality across the rail network. The two companies, who have signed a memorandum of understanding, will investigate the potential for the use of synthetic and net zero fuels, including hydrogen, both in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. Building on their recent success of jointly introducing hybrid battery-diesel railcars into passenger service, the two companies will also explore the potential for advanced hybridisation.

The relationship also includes considering the role of the wider rail ecosystem in decarbonisation, including fuel chain supply, infrastructure and operational models that can aid innovation and the transition to net zero.

The UK’s railway accounts for approximately 1% of all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions* and the Government’s ambition is to remove all diesel-only trains – both passenger and freight – from the network by 2040 and achieve a net zero rail network by 2050. The UK Government has identified a number of different routes to this target including alternative forms of power such as hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries, hybrid-electric and sustainable fuels.

Rolls-Royce have issued a similar press release.

I believe this agreement could result in significant benefits to the UK rail industry, in respect to reduction in diesel consumption, noise and carbon emissions.

Examples could include.

Unfortunately, I can’t add more examples as there is no Porterbrook fleet list on their web site.

February 14, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments