The Anonymous Widower

Battery EMUs Envisaged In Southeastern Fleet Procurement

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

This is the first paragraph.

Southeastern has invited expressions of interest for the supply of new electric multiple-units with an optional battery capability for operation away from the 750 V DC third-rail network.

This article on bidstats is entitled Supply Of And Maintenance Support For New Rolling Stock For Southeastern, and gives more details.

These are my thoughts.

Southeastern HighSpeed Services

There would appear to be no changes in this contract to the Class 395 trains, that work on High Speed One, as this is said in the bidstats article.

Full compatibility with Southeastern infrastructure (excluding High Speed 1 infrastructure)

which appears to rule out running on High Speed One.

In addition, this article on Rail Magazine is entitled Southeastern’s Class 395 Javelin Train Sets Are To Receive A £27 million Facelift.

Southeastern Have Both 75 and 100 mph Trains

In addition to their Class 395 trains, Southeastern have the following trains in their fleet.

Note.

  1. Running a mixed fleet of 75 and 100 mph trains can’t be very efficient.
  2. The Class 465 and 466 trains are the oldest trains and date from 1991-1994.
  3. They are often to be seen in ten-car formations of 2 x 465 trains and a Class 466 train.
  4. Another twelve Class 707 trains are planned to join Southeastern.

I would expect the Class 465 and Class 466 trains to be replaced first.

What Length Will The New Trains Be?

If you look at the new suburban electric trains, they have the following lengths.

Note.

  1. Southeastern already run five-car trains as pairs.
  2. A significant proportion of existing suburban trains are five-car trains.
  3. Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, Lumo and TransPennine Express run five-car Hitachi trains, with more companies  to follow.
  4. A pair of five-car trains make a pair of a convenient length for most platforms.

I would be fairly confident, that the new trains will be five-car trains, with the ability to run as pairs.

What Will Be The Operating Speed Of The New Trains?

To match the speed of the Class 375 and Class 707 trains, I would expect them to be 100 mph trains.

The Quietness Of Battery-Electric Trains

All of the battery-electric trains I have ridden, have been mouse-quiet, with none of the clunking you get for a lot of electric trains.

This is said in the bidstats article says this about the interiors

Interiors suitable for metro & mainline operation.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of these trains on commuter routes to attract passengers.

Battery Power

This is said in the bidstats article about battery power.

Inclusion of options for traction batteries with capability for operation in depots and sidings without the need for external power supply, and with the capability to operate on the main line where power supply is not available due to isolations or incidents, or for non-electrified line sections of up to 20 miles.

Although Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains are not in service yet, I find it interesting that the proposed Southeastern trains will be similarly-fitted with a small battery for depot and siding operation.

The twenty mile battery range is specific and I wonder if it will be used innovatively. I suspect it could be a bit longer in the future, as battery technology improves.

Possible Electrified Routes Using Battery Power

These are a few possibilities.

The Hoo Branch

In Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening, I discussed running electric trains to a proposed Hoo station.

I made these two points.

  • Hoo junction to Hoo station is no more than five or six miles.
  • There are also half-a-dozen level crossings on the route, which I doubt the anti-third rail brigade would not want to be electrified.

It would appear that a battery-electric train with a range of twenty miles would handle this route easily.

  • Charging would be on the nearly thirty miles between Hoo junction and Charing Cross station.
  • No charging would be needed at Hoo station.

There may be other possibilities for new routes locally to open up new housing developments.

The Sheerness Line

The Sheerness Line has the following characteristics.

  • It is double-track
  • It is electrified
  • It is less than eight miles long.
  • For most of the day, the service is one train per hour (tph)
  • There are two tph in the Peak.
  • Would two tph attract more passengers to the line?
  • Does the power supply on the Sheerness Line limit the size and power of trains that can be run on the line?
  • Is there a need for one train per day to London in the morning and a return in the evening?
  • Could the Sheerness Line be run more economically with battery trains. providing a two tph service all day?

The Isle of Sheppey needs levelling up, perhaps 100 mph trains to London using battery power on the Sheerness Line, might just make a difference.

The Medway Valley Line

The Medway Valley Line has the following characteristics.

  • It is double-track
  • It is electrified
  • It is less than twenty-six and a half miles long.
  • For most of the day, the service is two tph.
  • In the Peak there are HighSpeed services between Maidstone West and St.Pancras International stations.

If electrification was removed between Paddock Wood and Maidstone West stations, the HighSpeed services could still be run and battery-electric trains with a twenty mile range could still run the Tonbridge and Strood service.

The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line has the following characteristics.

  • It is mainly single-track with a passing loop at Rye station.
  • It is not electrified
  • It is 25.4 miles between the electrified Ashford International and Ore stations.
  • Services are irregular and less than one tph.

If the proposed battery-electric train had a range of thirty miles, it should be able to handle the Marshlink Line.

The service between Eastbourne and Ashford International stations would need to be moved between the Southern and Southeastern operations.

The Uckfield Branch

The Uckfield Branch has the following characteristics.

  • It is a mixture of single- and double-track.
  • It is not electrified South of Hurst Green Junction.
  • It is 24.7 miles between the electrified Hurst Green Junction and Uckfield station
  • Services are one tph.

If the proposed battery-electric train had a range of thirty-miles, it should be able to handle the Uckfield Branch, with a charging system at Uckfield station.

Will Battery-Electric Trains Allow Some Lines To Have Their Electrification Removed?

There are several reasons, why electrification might be removed.

  1. It is on a line, where the electrification needs upgrading.
  2. It is on a line, where there are lots of trespassers.
  3. Possibly at a level-crossing or a stretch of track with several.
  4. Possibly in a tunnel, with a large inflow if water.
  5. It is a depot or siding, where safety is important to protect the workforce.

Obviously, the electrification would not be removed unless  battery-electric trains can handle all possible services.

These are surely some possibilities for electrification removal.

The Hayes Line

The Hayes Line has the following characteristics.

  • It is double-track
  • It is electrified
  • It is less than eight miles to Ladywell Junction, where the branch joins the main line at Lewisham.
  • It is currently run by Class 465 and Class 466 trains, which will likely be changed for the new trains with a battery capability.
  • Services are four tph.

If the proposed battery-electric train had a range of twenty-miles, it would be able to handle the route between Ladywell junction and Hayes station.

Erith Loop, Crayford Spur and Slade Green Depot

This map from Cartometro.com shows the Erith Loop, the Crayford Spur and the Slade Green Depot.

Note.

 

Not many trains take the Erith Loop or the Crayford Spur.

  • The distance between Slade Green and Barnehurst is less than a mile-and-a-half.
  • Dartford station is off the South-East corner of the map.
  • The distance between Barnehurst and Dartford is less than three miles.
  • The distance between Slade Green and Crayford is less than two miles-and-a-half.
  • The distance between Crayford and Dartford is less than two miles.
  • The main line through Slade Green would need to remain electrified, as electric freight trains use the line.

I suspect, that quite a lot of electrification could be removed here, much to the disgust of the copper thieves.

It might even be possible to build on top of the depot.

 

 

November 14, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Linking To The Oxted Line

I believe that everybody in the South East of England needs the best access possible to the Elizabeth Line, by train from where they live.

  • The Elizabeth Line serves the important places like Brick Lane, Canary Wharf, the City of London, Heathrow Airport, Liverpool Street station, the Olympic Park, Oxford Street and Paddington station directly.
  • Because of its connection to Thameslink, the Elizabeth Line also serves important places like Bedford, Brighton, Cambridge, Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport and Tate Modern with a single change at Farringdon station.
  • Using the Elizabeth Line, Thameslink and perhaps a bus, it is possible to get to most important places in Central London.
  • The more passengers that use the Elizabeth Line and Thameslink, the more London’s businesses will thrive creating employment and tax revenues.
  • It should also be remembered, that using a train to visit central London, probably cuts your carbon footprint.
  • The Elizabeth Line also cost a fortune, so perhaps by using it, you will be getting some of your portion of what it cost you back.

This post is the first of several, where I discuss how to bring more passengers into the Elizabeth Line network.

The Oxted Line

The Oxted Line is a line with two branches; East Grinstead and Uckfield, which runs South from East Croydon station.

  • The branch to East Grinstead is electrified, but the branch to Uckfield is not and is still run by diesel trains.
  • Plans exist to run battery-electric trains on the Uckfield branch, but they always seem to be awaited,
  • Network Rail are now saying that they will electrify the Uckfield branch with third-rail.
  • All platforms on both branches can take ten-car trains, if not twelve.
  • A reasonable amount of money has been spent on the Uckfield branch to improve it.
  • Services on both branches are one train per hour (tph).
  • London terminals of trains are London Bridge and Victoria, both of which have no easy connection to the Elizabeth Line.

The major faults of the current services are as follows.

  • One tph is not enough.
  • Victoria is an overcrowded terminal with no connection to the Elizabeth Line or Thameslink
  • At London Bridge and East Croydon, there are tortuous step-free change to Thameslink.
  • From London Bridge you can use the Northern Line to transfer to the Elizabeth Line, but it wouldn’t be the best route when taking a heavy case to Heathrow.
  • From Victoria, you can use the Circle and District lines to the Elizabeth Line at Paddington.

The Oxted Line service needs to be improved.

I would do the following.

Move Uckfield Branch Services To Thameslink

This would mean that Uckfield services would call at East Croydon, London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St. Pancras and then terminate somewhere to the North.

  • There would be a step-free change to the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon.
  • East Croydon and London Bridge are still served.
  • There are connections to the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines of the Underground.
  • There will be no need for a terminal platform at London Bridge.

I believe that this gives much better connectivity.

Electrify To Uckfield

This is a long-debated question.

But as Thameslink trains are Class 700 trains, which are dual voltage, I’d electrify the Uckfield branch with 25 KVAC overhead electrification between Hurst Green and Uckfield.

Lightweight catenary could be used to reduce visual intrusion.

Note.

  1. The curved beam at the top of this overhead electrification gantry is laminated wood.
  2. Power changeover would take place at Hurst Green station.

Hopefully, the electric trains would offset any anger at overhead wires.

Run Two tph To Uckfield

I am fairly certain that when Network Rail lengthened the platforms on the Uckfield branch, that they arranged the track and signalling, so that two tph could use the branch.

Run An Hourly Shuttle Between Oxted And East Grinstead

This service would be as follows.

  • It would terminate in the bay platform at Oxted station.
  • This would give 2 tph on this route.

The existing hourly service between East Grinstead and Victoria would continue.

Conclusion

I believe that this simple scheme could give very good benefits to all stakeholders.

 

 

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kent Railway Viaduct Set For £3.5m Makeover

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

This 3D image from Google Maps, shows Ashurst station.

I think that the viaduct is to the left of the station.

This is a description of the work from Katie Frost, Network Rail’s route director for Sussex.

Our railway has a host of Victorian structures that underpin the millions of journeys passengers take with us every year and we have to take good care of them. Mill Stream Viaduct is made of metal, and we need to give it a thorough refurbishment to keep it strong for the future, blasting the old paint off, repainting and repairing the metal sections, replacing the decking, the track and the timbers that support the track too.

Certainly, £3.5 million would seem a lot, if it was just a simple repainting.

What About The Electrification?

Network Rail have been faffing about, deciding how they will get twelve car electric services to Uckfield.

However, in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there was a short article, which was entitled Uckfield Third Rail is NR Priority, where this was said.

Electrification of the line between Hurst Green and Uckfield in East Sussex and remodelling of East Croydon are the top Network Rail investment priorities south of the river, according to Southern Region Managing Director John Halsall. He told Modern Railways that third rail is now the preferred option for the Uckfield line, as it would allow the route to use the pool of third-rail EMUs in the area. This is in preference to the plan involving overhead electrification and use of dual-voltage units put forward by then-Network Rail Director Chris Gibb in his 2017 report.

NR has put forward options for mitigating the safety risk involved with the third-rail system, including switching off the power in station areas when no trains are present and section isolation systems to protect track workers. ‘The Office of Rail and Road hasn’t yet concerned third rail would be acceptable, but we ark working out ways in which it could be’ Mr Halsall told Modern Railways. He added that bi-mode trains with batteries were not a feasible option on this line, as the 10-car trains in use on the route would not be able to draw sufficient charge between London and Hurst Green to power the train over the 25 miles to Uckfield.

I feel that whatever method is used to get electric trains to Uckfield, there may well be some extra weight on the Millstream Viaduct at Ashurst. So giving the viaduct a makeover, is probably prudent.

I get the impression from the last few Editions of Modern Railways, that there will be a need for battery-electric multiple units in Kent and Sussex.

  • Ashford and Ore is 25.4 miles – Electrified at both ends – Maximum trip – 25.4 miles.
  • Oxted and Uckfield is 25 miles – Electrified at one end – Maximum trip – 50 miles.
  • Hoo and Hoo Juncton is less than 10 miles – Electrified at one end – Maximum trip – 20 miles.

It would appear that the Uckfield trip will need bigger batteries or some form of charging at Uckfield.

Suppose though the following were to be done.

  • Create a third-rail battery-electric multiple unit, with a range of thirty miles.
  • These would be ideal for Ashford and Ore and the Hoo Branch.
  • Install charging stations at Ashurst on both platforms and at Uckfield on the single platform. These would either work through a pantograph or third rail.

Operation of the service during a round trip between London Bridge and Uckfield would be as follows.

  • London Bridge and Hurst Green – Uses electrification and charges batteries
  • Hurst Green and Ashurst – Uses batteries for 11 miles
  • Ashurst station – Tops up the batteries
  • Ashurst and Uckfield – Uses batteries for 14 miles
  • Uckfield station – Tops up the batteries
  • Uckfield and Ashurst – Uses batteries for 14 miles
  • Ashurst station – Tops up the batteries
  • Ashurst and Hurst Green – Uses batteries for 11 miles
  • Hurst Green and London Bridge – Uses electrification and charges batteries

Network Rail may use a different combination of chargers and battery size.

 

July 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

Are Finally Battery-Electric Trains Going To Enter Service?

In the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there are three articles about battery-electric trains on four different routes.

The technology has been a long-term arriving, as I had my first ride in a battery-electric train in February 2015, which I wrote about in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

What kept it so long?

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eridge Station – 3rd May 2022

I documented the work at Eridge station in Eridge Station – 12th July 2021 and it was finished a few days ago.

Note.

  1. The platforms can take ten-car trains.
  2. The lift on the National Rail side of the station.
  3. The restored iron supports for the roof.
  4. The two waiting rooms; one by the ticket hall and the other on the platform.
  5. The well-appointed toilets, with quirky signs and the all important coat hook.
  6. There’s even an Amazon Hub.

It certainly is a quality restoration and upgrading to step-free access.

Possible Future Electrification

In Uckfield Third Rail Is NR Priority, I discussed ways that the Uckfield Branch could be electrified.

This picture shows the platforms from the Spa Heritage Railway.

Note.

  1. All National Rail services call in the far platform.
  2. The platform will take a ten-car train.
  3. There is plenty of space for a single extra third-rail between the tracks.

If the power were only switched on whilst trains were in the platform, surely it would be safe.

May 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Uckfield Third Rail Is NR Priority

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Electrification of the line between Hurst Green and Uckfield in East Sussex and the remodelling of East Croydon are the top Network Rail investment priorities south of the river, according to Southern Region Managing Director John Halsall. He told Modern Railways that third rail is now the preferred option for the Uckfield Line, as it would allow the route to use the pool of third-rail EMUs in the area. This is in preference to the plan involving overhead electrification and use of dual-voltage units put forward by then-Network Rail director Chris Gibb in his 2017 report (p66, September 2017 issue).

NR has put forward options for mitigating the safety risk involved with the third-rail system, including switching off the power in station areas when no trains are present and section isolation systems to protect track workers.

The Office of Road and Rail hasn’t given Network Rail’s scheme the OK yet, but as an Electrical Engineer, I believe that a safe system is possible.

Making Charging Safe At Greenford

This article on Ian Visits is entitled Ex-London Underground Trains To Be Tested On The Greenford Branch Line.

The article describes how despite using London Underground’s four-rail electrification, it will be possible with the right interlocks and systems to make such a system safe.

As Vivarail’s system is to be installed, it must already agree with all the Health and Safety rules.

A Safe System On The Uckfield Branch

Consider.

  • The unelectrified section of the Uckfield Branch is twenty-five miles long.
  • There are seven intermediate stations, with the longest section between any two stations under five miles.
  • Trains stop in each station on the route.
  • Trains appear to have a dwell time of about a minute in each station.
  • A ten-car pair of Class 707 trains would be 203.2 metres long.
  • All platforms have been lengthened for ten-car trains.
  • A battery-electric train running along unelectrified track, is no more dangerous than a diesel train.

This picture shows some typical third-rail electrification at Kidbrooke station in South East London.

Electrification At Kidbrooke Station

Note.

  1. The electrified rails are between the tracks.
  2. Gaps are possible to isolate sections of tracks.
  3. The third-rail is tapered, so that the third-rail shoes on the train can connect and disconnect easily.

Suppose you have a third-rail electric train with a range of say seven or eight miles on batteries.

Would it be possible to devise a safe electrified railway using this train and standard third-rail electrification with some safety modifications?

  • The track in each station would be electrified in the normal way with the third-rail away from the platform.
  • The length of electrification in each station would be  a few metres shorter than the length of the ten-car pair of Class 707 trains.
  • This would mean that the train would completely cover the electrification, when it stopped in the station.
  • The third-rail electrification would only be switched on, when a train is stopped in the station and the right interlocks are engaged.
  • Even if a passenger fell onto the tracks, they would probably be safe, unless they crawled through the wheels to the centre of the tracks.
  • There would be no electrification between the stations, which would protect track workers and trespassers.

I believe that a safe system can be devised.

A train going through a station would do the following.

  • Slowing down, the train would use regenerative braking, that helped to charge the batteries
  • The train would stop in a station, so that it connected with and covered the third-rail.
  • When the charging system recognised that a train was connected, it would start to charge the batteries.
  • When all passengers had unloaded and loaded and the train was ready, the driver would stop the charging process.
  • The train would move to the next station on battery power.
  • Safety interlocks would stop the charging under various unsafe circumstances.

I believe that Siemens could have developed a charging system like this for their Class 707 trains, as some of their other trains of a similar vintage to the Class 707 trains already offer battery options.

A Stepping Stone Approach

On the unelectrified section between Hurst Green Junction and Uckfield, there are the following stations.

  • Edenbridge Town – two platforms
  • Hever – two platforms
  • Cowden – single bi-directional platform – 7.9 miles South of Hurst Green Junction.
  • Ashurst – two platforms
  • Eridge – single bi-directional platform – 6.3 miles South of Cowden
  • Crowborough – two platforms
  • Buxted – single bi-directional platform – 4.7 miles South of Eridge
  • Uckfield – single platform – 2.3 miles South of Buxted

Suppose the following were to be done.

  • Do nothing at the two platform stations.
  • Fit an intelligent fast charging system at Cowden, Eridge, Buxted and Uckfield.
  • If it was felt to be needed to ensure reliable operation, the power supply to the Southbound platform could be boosted at Hurst Green station.
  • Procure some ten-car battery-electric trains, which have regenerative braking and a range of perhaps ten-twelve miles on battery power.

Note.

  1. A pair of five-car trains could be used instead of ten-car trains.
  2. Some five-car Class 377 trains fitted with batteries might be ideal.
  3. This would mean only four platforms would need to be electrified with fast charging systems.

I am sure that Vivarail Fast Charge systems could be used, if they were modified to work with standard third-rail systems and for bi-directional use.

What size of battery would be needed for this approach?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

So for a ten-car train running for twelve miles, the train would need a battery capacity of between 360 and 600 kWh.

Or if it was two five-car trains between 180 and 300 kWh in each train.

Note that Vivarail find space for 424 kWh in the two-car Class 230 train, I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

I believe that a five-car Class 377 or 707 train could be fitted with a 300 kWh battery and this would give the train a range of 12 miles, which would enable it to provide a battery-electric service on the Uckfield Branch.

May 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 10 Comments

My Current Thoughts On Electric Trains To Windermere

These are my current thoughts on electric trains to Windermere station.

Passengers And Battery-Electric Trains

I don’t think any reputable journalist interviewed passengers on either of the two battery electric services that have successfully run for longer than a couple of days.

Those that used British Rail’s Aberdeen and Ballater service in the 1950s, are probably thin on the ground, although I did meet an elderly lady, who’d regularly used it to go to school and she said the service was reliable.

She also said that the Queen Mother was an enthusiastic passenger.

I rode the Manningtree and Harwich battery electric train during its short trial.

But more significantly, since then I have met two passengers, who used it every day during the trial to commute.

Both would like to see the train return, as it seemed more reliable. I wonder, if like much of East Anglia’s overhead wires, the route suffers from the wind.

It does appear that providing a reliable service with battery electric trains is not a difficult problem.

Two Trains Per Hour To Windermere

In Passing Loop Hope For Windermere, I discuss a passing loop on the Windermere Branch Line to enable two trains per hour (tph) along the line.

The Treasury wouldn’t like this, as it would need twice the number of trains.

But hopefully, it would double the ticket revenue.

Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains

It has been some time now since in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, that it was announced that CAF announced they were building a battery-electric version of the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

Little has been heard of CAF’s progress since, although I did write Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, which was based on an article in the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Northern Looks To The Future.

Lack Of Progress On Battery And Hydrogen Train Projects

Is this typical of battery and hydrogen projects?

Southern’s project on the Uckfield Branch and to close the electrification gap between Ashford and Hastings has only been conspicuous by its absence. This project is important as it releases the Class 170 trains, so that EMR can fulfil franchise commitments.

The project to use hydrogen trains on Teesside has also progressed at a snail’s pace.

It is almost as if someone in the Department of Transport or more likely the Treasury, feels that the best thing to do is to carry on using diesel, as it’s the cheapest alternative.

I don’t think it is any politician, as their public statements seem to be very much in favour of decarbonisation.

Other Electric Trains In The Lake District

I also think, that if battery-electric trains were to be run to Windermere, that they would also run to Barrow-in-Furness. Am I right in thinking that the Furness Line is rather flat, so would be ideal for battery-electric trains?

But I do wonder, if Sellafield and Direct Rail Services are pushing for electrification, as it would surely help their operations, as they could use Class 88 locomotives to bring in the flasks for processing.

Also in Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, I did say this.

I feel it would be possible to electrify the Cumbrian Coast Line using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Surely, a battery-electric train along the Cumbrian Coast by the Lake District would be the ideal train for the area.

I can certainly see a small fleet of battery-electric working services between Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Carnforth, Manchester Airport, Sellafield, Whitehaven, Windermere and Workington.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And The Uckfield Branch

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

One possible route for the trains could be the Uckfield Branch, which has an hourly service from London Bridge via East Croydon and Oxted stations?

  • The route is forty-six miles long, with the Northernmost twenty-one miles electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • On each trip, the train would need to run for fifty miles without electrification.
  • There are seven stops on the route.
  • The platforms on the Uckfield Branch can handle a 240 metre train.
  • Trains take around three hours for the round trip.
  • Each train probably does around five round trips per day.

So would Alstom Hydrogen Aventras be able to work the route?

  • The length of a three-car Alstom Hydrogen Aventra is probably around 72 metres.
  • Three Alstom Hydrogen Aventras working together would be 216 metres.
  • Aventras can be configured to work on 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • The capacity of a nine-car formation of Alstom Hydrogen Aventra would be similar to that of a ten-car Electrostar, which has shorter cars.

Three Alstom Hydrogen Aventra trains working together could seem to be a possible solution for the route.

These are my thoughts.

The Required Range

If each train has to do five round trips, with each needing fifty miles on hydrogen, the trains would need a range in excess of 250 miles, whilst running on hydrogen.

Refuelling With Hydrogen

This would probably be done at a depot setup to service the hydrogen trains, where they would be stabled at night.

I doubt that London Bridge or Uckfield stations would be suitable places to refuel

The Number Of Trains

In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I estimated that three ten- or twelve-car trains would be needed to run an hourly service. Running half-hourly would need six trains.

As each nine-car train would need three Alstom Hydrogen Aventras, an hourly service would need a total of nine and a half-hourly service would need eighteen individual trains.

I suspect that this would not be a cost effective way of using the trains, as a lot of trains would need to refuelled every day.

Conclusion

I am not saying that Alstom Hydrogen Aventras couldn’t work the Uckfield Branch, but I’m sure there are are better ways to decarbonise the route.

November 12, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , | 9 Comments

What Will Happen To The Eighty-Seven Class 350 Trains

At the current time, West Midlands Trains have a fleet of eighty-seven Class 350 trains.

  • The trains are being replaced by new Class 730 trains.
  • They are of different specifications.
  • The interiors vary, but there are a lot of tables.
  • All are four-car sets.
  • They are 110 mph trains.
  • Thirty of the trains are dual-voltage.
  • Fifty are owned by Angel Trains.
  • Thirty-seven are owned by Porterbrook, who have looked at converting the trains to battery-electric operation.
  • They are a bit of a dog’s breakfast, although they are excellent trains.
  • The future of the trains is rather uncertain and even Porterbrook’s plans have gone rather quiet.

So perhaps a big dog ought to round up all these trains and turn them into something more useful.

Consider.

  • All the trains were built in this century by Siemens in Germany.
  • Siemens service the Class 350 trains at Kings Heath Depot in Northampton.
  • Siemens have recently opened a factory in Goole to make new trains for the London Underground.
  • Siemens are developing the Mireo Plus B, which is a battery-electric multiple unit in Germany.

Siemens must have the knowledge and experience to turn these trains into a quality fleet of battery-electric trains.

  • Thirty would be dual-voltage and fifty-seven would be 25 KVAC overhead only.
  • All would be 110 mph trains.
  • I doubt there would be many places on the UK rail network, where they couldn’t run.

All appear to be in excellent condition, as these pictures show.

I very much feel, that these fleets could be converted into a quality fleet of very useful battery-electric trains.

Charging The Batteries

Most of the charging would be done from existing electrification, but as all trains have pantographs, they could use specially-erected short lengths of 25 KVAC overhead wires or charging systems like the Furrer + Frey Voltap system.

Possible Routes

I will start with the dual-voltage trains.

  • Uckfield Branch, where a charger would be needed at Uckfield station.
  • Marshlink Line
  • Basingstoke and Exeter, where chargers would be needed at Salisbury and Exeter and possibly Yeovil Junction.

I feel with 25 KVAC overhead applications, we will soon run out of trains.

 

 

October 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested

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

This is the first paragraph.

A prototype Voltap rapid charging station for battery trains has been tested under real-world conditions for the first time.

The Voltap system is from Furrer + Frey and this is the data sheet on their web site, which is entitled Voltap Charging Station For Battery Trains.

Looking at the pictures in the article, the system seems to consist of two components.

  • An overhead conductor rail suspended from pantries on the platform.
  • A container that contains all the power supplies and control systems.

It certainly looks to be a simple system to install and operate.

  • Charging would appear to take place through the pantograph, with no cables to handle.
  • It is claimed to be able to charge a train in an extremely short time.
  • The system is designed for areas, where the electricity network is perhaps a bit weaker.
  • It is available in 15 KVAC and 25 KVAC.
  • The system is future-proofed.

I can see these being suitable for several stations in the UK.

Norfolk And Suffolk

As an example, it looks like all the branch lines in Norfolk and Suffolk could be made suitable for battery-electric trains with Voltap systems at Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Sheringham, Sudbury and Yarmouth.

Note.

  1. The Class 755 trains would be converted to battery-electric trains.
  2. Some stations would need more than one platform to have a charger.
  3. There may be other chargers to ensure that services like Norwich and Stansted Airport could be run electrically.

These pictures show Class 755 trains in various East Anglian stations.

Felixstowe and some other stations may need a slightly different installation due to the narrow platforms, but I’m sure Furrer + Frey have installations for all platforms.

I think Great British Railways are going to need a lot of these chargers and the battery-electric trains to go with them.

The Uckfield Branch

The Uckfield Branch probably needs to have some form of charging at Uckfield station.

The picture shows the single long platform at Uckfield station.

Consider.

  • Trains to work the branch will need to be able to use third-rail electrification between London Bridge station and Hurst Green junction.
  • Hurst Green junction to Uckfield station and back is probably too far for a battery-electric train, so charging will be needed at Uckfield station.
  • Third-rail charging could be used, but I suspect that Health and Safety will say no!

But using a dual-voltage train and a Voltap system at Uckfield station would probably be ideal.

Middlesbrough

From December the 13th, LNER will be running a new daily service between Middlesbrough and London, which I described in LNER’s Middlesbrough And London Service Starts On December 13th.

The route is fully electrified except for between Middlesbrough and Longlands Junction, where it joins the electrification of the East Coast Main Line, which is a distance of twenty-two miles.

Hitachi are developing a battery-train, which they call the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. LNER’s current Class 800 trains will probably be able to be converted to this train.
  2. Normally, these trains have three diesel generators.
  3. A range on battery power of upwards of forty miles would be expected.

If the range on battery-power can be stretched to perhaps sixty miles, this train should be capable of serving Middlesbrough without the need for any extra charging at the terminus.

I have just looked at the planned path of the first train on December 13th.

  • The train comes from Heaton depot in Newcastle via Sunderland and Hartlepool.
  • It passes through Middlesbrough station.
  • It then reverses amongst the chemical and steel works to the East, before returning to Middlesbrough station.

Once back at Middlesbrough station, it waits for eight minutes before leaving for London.

It looks to me to be a safe route, to make sure that the train leaves on time. It also only occupies the platform at Middlesbrough station for less than ten minutes.

But it would also be possible to find space amongst the chemical and steel works to find space for a well-designed reversing siding with refuelling for the diesel-electric trains or a Voltap charging system for a battery-electric train.

Lincoln

I have been looking at the pattern of LNER’s London and Lincoln service today.

  • There have been six trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • Trains going North take up to seven minutes to unload passengers at Lincoln station before moving on to Lincoln Terrace C. H. S., which I would assume is a convenient reversing siding.
  • Trains going South wait up to thirty-forty minutes at Lincoln station after arriving from Lincoln Terrace C. H. S., before leaving for Kings Cross.

It looks to me, that if London and Lincoln were to be run by a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, that the timings would be ideal for charging the batteries on the train in either the reversing siding or the station.

But surely, the charging system in the station would allow extension of the service to Grimsby and Cleethorpes, which has been stated as being part of LNER’s plans.

This picture shows Lincoln station.

I suspect that Swiss ingenuity could fit a Voltap charging system in the station.

These are a few distances from Lincoln station.

  • Cleethorpes – 47.2 miles
  • Doncaster – 35.4 miles
  • Newark North Gate – 16.6 miles
  • Peterborough – 56.9 miles

How many of these destinations could be reached by a battery-electric train, that had been fully-charged at Lincoln station.

 

 

October 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments