The Anonymous Widower

Eridge Station – 12th July 2021

It’s been over a year, since I went to Eridge station, so I thought I’d go again.

Note.

  1. The station seems to have moved on.
  2. The steps have had a makeover.
  3. It appears that some painting has been done.
  4. All Southern trains call in Platform 1, which is in the Western side of the tracks.

A lift will be installed on that side, with a slope on the heritage line side.

I’m fairly certain if they get the marketing right, families will pay to go to Eridge station for a day on the Spa Heritage Railway.

 

 

 

 

July 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Using Hitachi ABB Power Grids Technology At Uckfield Station

This post describes how the ABB Power Grids technology could be used to allow battery-electric trains to run between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

The London Bridge And Uckfield Route

The London Bridge And Uckfield route has these characteristics.

  • It is forty-six miles long
  • The Southern section between Heald Green junction and Uckfield station is 24.7 miles and is not electrified.
  • A service takes approximately eighty minutes.
  • Trains run at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • The route has been upgraded to be able to handle twelve car trains.
  • The route is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway is the operator.

It looks to me if you assume a ten minute turnround, then that gives a three-hour round trip.

This would mean the following.

  • Trains would have ten minutes charging time at Uckfield.
  • If twelve car trains were running on the branch then nine four-car trains would be required for an hourly service.
  • Two tph would require twice as many trains.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have arranged the route and the timetables for a fleet of battery-electric trains.

The Battery-Electric Trains

There have been several hints in the rail media, that battery-electric Bombardier Electrostars will be used for the London Bridge and Uckfield route.

I wrote Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch in September 2019.

  • In the related post I suggested Class 377, Class 379 or Class 387 trains.
  • All are four-car Bombardier Electrostars.
  • All are 100 or 110 mph trains.
  • The Class 387 trains are already dual voltage, but I suspect all trains could be converted to third-rail or dual-voltage.
  • My choice would be Class 379 trains, as they are being made redundant by Greater Anglia and thirty quality trains are looking for a new home.

But all three types would be acceptable and Govia Thameslink Railway has both of the other types in its extensive fleet.

Charging The Battery-Electric Trains

This picture shows the single twelve-car platform at Uckfield station.

There would appear to be plenty of space on the side away from the platform.

There would appear to be two main methods of charging the trains.

A Length Of 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification On The Side Away From The Platform

  • The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.
  • It could even be made very safe, if an interlock were to be provided, that ensured that the third-rail were only to be live, when a train was in the station that needed charging.

This would be possible, but I suspect the Anti-Third-Rail Electrification Mafia will get this simple method stopped.

A Length Of 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification Powered By One Of Hitachi ABB Power Grids Containised Power Systems

The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.

The driver or an automated system would raise the pantographs after the train stopped in the station.

Interlocks could be provided to increase safety.

The overhead electrification would be powered by one or more of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’s containerised power systems

Lightweight catenary could be used to reduce visual intrusion.

The curved beam at the top of this overhead electrification gantry is laminated wood.

Because of the higher voltage used, I suspect that the Hitachi ABB Power Grids could charge a twelve-car train in under ten minutes.

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

The title of this post, is the same as an article in the July 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory sub-heading.

Regional and rural railways poses a huge problem for the railway to decarbonise.

Lorna McDonald of Hitachi Rail and Jay Mehta of Hitachi ABB Power Grids tell Andy Roden why they believe they have the answer.

These are my thoughts on what is said.

Battery-Electric Trains

The article starts by giving a review of battery-electric trains and their use on routes of moderate but important length.

  • Some short routes can be handled with just a charge on an electrified main line.
  • Some will need a recharge at the termini.
  • Other routes might need a recharge at some intermediate stations, with a possible increase in dwell times.

It was in February 2015, that I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after a ride in public service on Bombardier’s test battery-electric train based on a Class 379 train.

I also wrote this in the related post.

Returning from Harwich, I travelled with the train’s on-board test engineer, who was monitoring the train performance in battery mode on a laptop. He told me that acceleration in this mode was the same as a standard train, that the range was up to sixty miles and that only minimal instruction was needed to convert a driver familiar to the Class 379 to this battery variant.

It was an impressive demonstration, of how a full-size train could be run in normal service without connection to a power supply. I also suspect that the partners in the project must be very confident about the train and its technology to allow paying passengers to travel on their only test train.

A couple of years later, I met a lady on another train, who’d used the test train virtually every day during the trial and she and her fellow travellers felt that it was as good if not better than the normal service from a Class 360 train or a Class 321 train.

So why if the engineering, customer acceptance and reliability were proven six years ago, do we not have several battery electric trains in service?

  • There is a proven need for battery-electric trains on the Marshlink Line and the Uckfield Branch in Sussex.
  • The current Class 171 trains are needed elsewhere, so why are no plans in place for replacement trains?
  • The government is pushing electric cars and buses, but why is there such little political support for battery-electric trains?

It’s almost as if, an important civil servant in the decision process has the naive belief that battery-electric trains won’t work and if they do, they will be phenomenally expensive. So the answer is an inevitable no!

Only in the South Wales Metro, are battery-electric trains considered to be part of the solution to create a more efficient and affordable electric railway.

But as I have constantly pointed out since February 2015 in this blog, battery-electric trains should be one of the innovations we use to build a better railway.

Hydrogen Powered Trains

The article says this about hydrogen powered trains.

Hybrid hydrogen fuel cells can potentially solve the range problem, but at the cost of the fuel eating up internal capacity that would ideally be used for passengers. (and as Industry and Technology Editor Roger Ford points out, at present hydrogen is a rather dirty fuel). By contrast, there is no loss of seating or capacity in a Hitachi battery train.

I suspect the article is referring to the Alstom train, which is based on the technology of the Alstom Coradia iLint.

I have ridden this train.

  • It works reliably.
  • It runs on a 100 km route.
  • The route is partially electrified, but the train doesn’t have a pantograph.
  • It has a very noisy mechanical transmission.

Having spoken to passengers at length, no-one seemed bothered by the Hindenburg possibilities.

It is certainly doing some things right, as nearly fifty trains have been ordered for train operating companies in Germany.

Alstom’s train for the UK is the Class 600 train, which will be converted from a four-car Class 321 train.

Note.

  1. Half of both driver cars is taken up by a hydrogen tank.
  2. Trains will be three-cars.
  3. Trains will be able to carry as many passengers as a two-car Class 156 train.

It is an inefficient design that can be improved upon.

Porterbrook and Birmingham University appear to have done that with their Class 799 train.

  • It can use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and other hydrogen gubbins are under the floor.

This picture from Network Rail shows how the train will appear at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Now that’s what I call a train! Let alone a hydrogen train!

Without doubt, Porterbrook and their academic friends in Birmingham will be laying down a strong marker for hydrogen at COP26!

I know my hydrogen, as my first job on leaving Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968 was for ICI at Runcorn, where I worked in a plant that electrolysed brine into hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and chlorine.

My life went full circle last week, when I rode this hydrogen powered bus in London.

The hydrogen is currently supplied from the same chemical works in Runcorn, where I worked. But plans have been made at Runcorn, to produce the hydrogen from renewable energy, which would make the hydrogen as green hydrogen of the highest standard. So sorry Roger, but totally carbon-free hydrogen is available.

The bus is a Wightbus Hydroliner FCEV and this page on the Wrightbus web site gives the specification. The specification also gives a series of cutaway drawings, which show how they fit 86 passengers, all the hydrogen gubbins and a driver into a standard size double-deck bus.

I believe that Alstom’s current proposal is not a viable design, but I wouldn’t say that about the Porterbrook/Birmingham University design.

Any Alternative To Full Electrification Must Meet Operator And Customer Expectations

This is a paragraph from the article.

It’s essential that an alternative traction solution offers the same levels of performance and frequency, while providing an increase in capacity and being economically viable.

In performance, I would include reliability. As the on-board engineer indicated on the Bombardier  test train on the Harwich branch, overhead electrification is not totally reliable, when there are winds and/or criminals about.

Easy Wins

Hitachi’s five-car Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains each have three diesel engines and run the following short routes.

  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough- 21 miles not electrified – Changeover in Northallerton station
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.6 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newark Northgate station
  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newbury station
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Didcot Parkway station

Some of these routes could surely be run with a train, where one diesel engine was replaced by a battery-pack.

As I’m someone, who was designing, building and testing plug-compatible transistorised electronics in the 1960s to replace  older valve-based equipment in a heavy engineering factory, I suspect that creating a plug-compatible battery-pack that does what a diesel engine does in terms of power and performance is not impossible.

What would be the reaction to passengers, once they had been told, they had run all the way to or from London without using any diesel?

Hopefully, they’d come again and tell their friends, which is what a train operator wants and needs.

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

This section is from the article.

Where electrification isn’t likely to be a viable proposition, this presents a real conundrum to train operators and rolling stock leasing companies.

This is why Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids are joining together to present a combined battery train and charging solution to solve this conundrum. In 2020, Hitachi and ABB’s Power Grids business, came together in a joint venture, and an early outcome of this is confidence that bringing together their expertise in rail, power and grid management, they can work together to make electrification simpler cheaper and quicker.

I agree strongly with the second paragraph, as several times, I’ve been the mathematician and simulation expert in a large multi-disciplinary engineering project, that went on to be very successful.

The Heart Of The Proposition

This is a paragraph from the article.

The proposition is conceptually simple. Rather than have extended dwell times at stations for battery-powered trains, why not have a short stretch of 25 KVAC overhead catenary (the exact length will depend on the types of train and the route) which can charge trains at linespeed on the move via a conventional pantograph?

The article also mentions ABB’s related expertise.

  • Charging buses all over Europe.
  • Creating the power grid for the Great Western Electrification to Cardiff.

I like the concept, but then it’s very similar to what I wrote in The Concept Of Electrification Islands in April 2020.

But as they are electrical power engineers and I’m not, they’d know how to create the system.

Collaboration With Hyperdrive Innovation

The article has nothing negative to say about the the collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to produce the battery-packs.

Route Modelling

Hitachi appear to have developed a sophisticated route modelling system, so that routes and charging positions can be planned.

I would be very surprised if they hadn’t developed such a system.

Modular And Scalable

This is a paragraph from the article.

In the heart of the system is a containerised modular solution containing everything needed to power a stretch of overhead catenary to charge trains. A three-car battery train might need one of these, but the great advantage is that it is scalable to capacity and speed requirements.

This all sounds very sensible and can surely cope with a variety of lines and traffic levels.

It also has the great advantage , that if a line is eventually electrified, the equipment can be moved on to another line.

Financing Trains And Chargers

The article talks about the flexibility of the system from an operator’s point of view with respect to finance.

I’ve had some good mentors in the area of finance and I know innovative finance contributed to the success of Metier Management Systems, the project management company I started with three others in 1977.

After selling Metier, I formed an innovative finance company, which would certainly have liked the proposition put forward in the article.

No Compromise, Little Risk

I would agree with this heading of the penultimate section of the article.

In February 2015, when I rode that Class 379 train between Manningtree and Harwich, no compromise had been made by Bombardier and it charged in the electrified bay platform at Manningtree.

But why was that train not put through an extensive route-proving exercise in the UK after the successful trial at Manningtree?

  • Was it the financial state of Bombardier?
  • Was it a lack of belief on the part of politicians, who were too preoccupied with Brexit?
  • Was it that an unnamed civil servant didn’t like the concept and stopped the project?

Whatever the reason, we have wasted several years in getting electric trains accepted on UK railways.

If no compromise needs to be made to create a battery-electric train, that is equivalent to the best-in-class diesel or electric multiple units, then what about the risk?

The beauty of Hitachi’s battery-electric train project is that it can be done in phases designed to minimise risk.

Phase 1 – Initial Battery Testing 

Obviously, there will be a lot of bench testing in a laboratory.

But I also believe that if the Class 803 trains are fitted with a similar battery from Hyperdrive Innovation, then this small fleet of five trains can be used to test a lot of the functionality of the batteries initially in a test environment and later in a real service environment.

The picture shows a Class 803 train under test through Oakleigh Park station.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Phase 2 – Battery Traction Testing And Route Proving

I am a devious bastard, when it comes to software development. The next set of features would always be available for me to test earlier, than anybody else knew.

I doubt that the engineers at Hyperdrive Innovation will be any different.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the batteries in the Class 803 trains can also be used for traction, if you have the right authority.

We might even see Class 803 trains turning up in some unusual places to test the traction abilities of the batteries.

As East Coast Trains, Great Western Railway and Hull Trains are all First Group companies, I can’t see any problems.

I’m also sure that Hitachi could convert some Class 800 or Class 802 trains and add these to the test fleet, if East Coast Trains need their Class 803 trains to start service.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Possibly, the worse thing, that could happen would be a battery failure, which would need the train to be rescued.

Phase 3 – Service Testing On Short Routes

As I indicated earlier, there are some easy routes between London and places like Bedwyn, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Oxford, that should be possible with a Class 800 or Class 802 train fitted with the appropriate number of batteries.

Once the trains have shown, the required level of performance and reliability, I can see converted Class 800, 801 and Class 802 trains entering services on these and other routes.

Another low risk phase, although passengers are involved, but they are probably subject to the same risks, as on an unmodified train.

Various combinations of diesel generators and batteries could be used to find out, what is the optimum combination for the typical diagrams that train operators use.

Hitachi didn’t commit to any dates, but I can see battery-electric trains running on the Great Western Railway earlier than anybody thinks.

Phase 4 – Service Testing On Medium Routes With A Terminal Charger System

It is my view that the ideal test route for battery-electric trains with a terminal charger system would be the Hull Trains service between London Kings Cross and Hull and Beverley.

The route is effectively in three sections.

  • London Kings Cross and Temple Hirst junction – 169.2 miles – Full Electrification
  • Temple Hirst junction and Hull station – 36.1 miles – No Electrification
  • Hull station and Beverley station – 8.3 miles – No Electrification

Two things would be needed to run zero-carbon electric trains on this route.

  • Sufficient battery capacity in Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains to reliably handle the 36.1 miles between Temple Hirst junction and Hull station.
  • A charging system in Hull station.

As Hull station also handles other Class 800 and Class 802 trains, there will probably be a need to put a charging system in more than one platform.

Note.

  1. Hull station has plenty of space.
  2. No other infrastructure work would be needed.
  3. There is a large bus interchange next door, so I suspect the power supply to Hull station is good.

Hull would be a very good first destination for a battery-electric InterCity train.

Others would include Bristol, Cheltenham, Chester, Scarborough, Sunderland and Swansea.

The risk would be very low, if the trains still had some diesel generator capacity.

Phase 5 – Service Testing On Long Routes With Multiple Charger Systems

Once the performance and reliability of the charger systems have been proven in single installations like perhaps Hull and Swansea stations, longer routes can be prepared for electric trains.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The press release talks about Penzance and London, so would that be a suitable route for discontinuous electrification using multiple chargers?

These are the distances between major points on the route between Penzance and London Paddington.

  • Penzance and Truro – 35.8 miles
  • Truro and Bodmin Parkway – 26.8 miles
  • Bodmin Parkway and Plymouth – 26.9 miles
  • Plymouth and Newton Abbot – 31,9 miles
  • Newton Abbot and Exeter – 20.2 miles
  • Exeter and Taunton – 30.8 miles
  • Taunton and Westbury – 47.2 miles
  • Westbury and Newbury – 42.5 miles
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles

Note.

  1. Only Newbury and Paddington is electrified.
  2. Trains generally stop at Plymouth, Newton Abbott, Exeter and Taunton.
  3. Services between Paddington and Exeter, Okehampton, Paignton, Penzance, Plymouth and Torquay wouldn’t use diesel.
  4. Okehampton would be served by a reverse at Exeter.
  5. As Paignton is just 8.1 miles from Newton Abbot, it probably wouldn’t need a charger.
  6. Bodmin is another possible destination, as Great Western Railway have helped to finance a new platform at Bodmin General station.

It would certainly be good marketing to run zero-carbon electric trains to Devon and Cornwall.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

In this brief analysis, it does look that Hitachi’s proposed system is of a lower risk.

A Few Questions

I do have a few questions.

Are The Class 803 Trains Fitted With Hyperdrive Innovation Batteries?

East Coast Trains‘s new Class 803 trains are undergoing testing between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh and they can be picked up on Real Time Trains.

Wikipedia says this about the traction system for the trains.

While sharing a bodyshell with the previous UK A-train variants, the Class 803 differs in that it has no diesel engines fitted. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies have failed.

Will these emergency batteries be made by Hyperdrive Innovation?

My experience of similar systems in other industries, points me to the conclusion, that all Class 80x trains can be fitted with similar, if not identical batteries.

This would give the big advantage of allowing battery testing to be performed on Class 803 trains under test, up and down the East Coast Main Line.

Nothing finds faults in the design and manufacture of something used in transport, than to run it up and down in real conditions.

Failure of the catenary can be simulated to check out emergency modes.

Can A Class 801 Train Be Converted Into A Class 803 Train?

If I’d designed the trains, this conversion would be possible.

Currently, the electric Class 801 trains have a single diesel generator. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train about the Class 801 train.

These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails.

So it looks like the difference between the powertrain of a Class 801 train and a Class 803 train, is that the Class 801 train has a diesel generator and the Class 803 train has batteries. But the diesel generator and batteries, would appear to serve the same purpose.

Surely removing diesel from a Class 801 train would ease the maintenance of the train!

Will The System Work With Third-Rail Electrification?

There are three routes that if they were electrified would probably be electrified with 750 DC third-rail electrification, as they have this electrification at one or both ends.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Marshlink Line
  • Uckfield branch

Note.

  1. Basingstoke and Exeter would need a couple of charging systems.
  2. The Marshlink line would need a charging system at Rye station.
  3. The Uckfield branch would need a charging system at Uckfield station.

I am fairly certain as an Electrical Engineer, that the third-rails would only need to be switched on, when a train is connected and needs a charge.

I also feel that on some scenic and other routes, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may be more acceptable , than 25 KVAC  overhead electrification. For example, would the heritage lobby accept overhead wires through a World Heritage Site or on top of a Grade I Listed viaduct?

I do feel that the ability to use third-rail 750 VDC third-rail electrification strategically could be a useful tool in the system.

Will The System Work With Lightweight Catenary?

I like the design of this 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that uses lightweight gantries, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.

Isuspect that both systems could work together.

 

Would Less Bridges Need To Be Rebuilt For Electrification?

This is always a contentious issue with electrification, as rebuilding bridges causes disruption to both rail and road.

I do wonder though by the use of careful design, that it might be possible to arrange that the sections of electrification and the contentious bridges were kept apart, with the bridges arranged to be in sections, where the trains ran on batteries.

I suspect that over the years as surveyors and engineers get more experienced, better techniques will evolve to satisfy all parties.

Get this right and it could reduce the cost of electrification on some lines, that will be difficult to electrify.

How Secure Are The Containerised Systems?

Consider.

  • I was delayed in East Anglia two years ago, because someone stole the overhead wires at two in the morning.
  • Apparently, overhead wire stealing is getting increasingly common in France and other parts of Europe.

I suspect the containerised systems will need to be more secure than those used for buses, which are not in isolated locations.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Use Energy Storage?

Consider.

  • I’ve lived in rural locations and the power grids are not as good as in urban areas.
  • Increasingly, batteries of one sort or another are being installed in rural locations to beef up local power supplies.
  • A new generation of small-footprint eco-friendly energy storage systems are being developed.

In some locations, it might be prudent for a containerised charging system to share a battery with the local area.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Accept Electricity From Local Sources Like Solar Farms?

I ask the question, as I know at least one place on the UK network, where a line without electrification runs through a succession of solar farms.

I also know of an area, where a locally-owned co-operative is planning a solar farm, which they propose would be used to power the local main line.

Will The System Work With Class 385 Trains?

Hitachi’s Class 385 trains are closely related to the Class 80x trains, as they are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

Will the Charging Systems Charge Other Manufacturers Trains?

CAF and Stadler are both proposing to introduce battery-electric trains in the UK.

I also suspect that the new breed of electric parcel trains will include a battery electric variant.

As these trains will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, I would expect, that they would be able to charge their batteries on the Hitachi ABB  charging systems.

Will The System Work With Freight Trains?

I believe that freight services will split into two.

Heavy freight will probably use powerful hydrogen-electric locomotives.

In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, which is based on a Freightliner press release, I detail Freightliner’s decarbonisation strategy, which indicates that in the future they will use hydrogen-powered locomotives.

But not all freight is long and extremely heavy and I believe that a battery-electric freight locomotive will emerge for lighter duties.

There is no reason it could not be designed to be compatible with Hitachi’s charging system.

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I talked about the plans for 100 mph parcel services based on redundant electric multiple units. Eversholt Rail Group have said they want a Last-Mile capability for their version of these trains.

Perhaps they need a battery-electric capability, so they can deliver parcels and shop supplies to the remoter parts of these islands?

Where Could Hitachi’s System Be Deployed?

This is the final paragraph from the article.

Hitachi is not committing to any routes yet, but a glance at the railway map shows clear potential for the battery/OLE-technology to be deployed on relatively lightly used rural and regional routes where it will be hard to make a case for electrification. The Cambrian Coast and Central Wales Lines would appear to be worthy candidates, and in Scotland, the West Highland Line and Far North routes are also logical areas for the system to be deployed.

In England, while shorter branch lines could simply be operated by battery trains, longer routes need an alternative. Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy interim business case recommends hydrogen trains for branch lines in Norfolk, as well as Par to Newquay and Exeter to Barnstaple. However, it is also entirely feasible to use the system on routes likely to be electrified much later in the programme, such as the Great Western main line West of Exeter, Swansea to Fishguard and parts of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine would be driven by high collateral benefits and practicality.

These are my thoughts.

Long Rural Lines

The Cambrian, Central Wales (Heart Of Wales), Far North and West Highland Lines may not be connected to each other, but they form a group of rail routes with a lot of shared characteristics.

  • All are rural routes of between 100 and 200 miles.
  • All are mainly single track.
  • They carry occasional freight trains.
  • They carry quite a few tourists, who are there to sample, view or explore the countryside.
  • All trains are diesel.
  • Scotrail have been experimenting with attaching Class 153 trains to the trains on the West Highland Line to act as lounge cars and cycle storage.

Perhaps we need a long-distance rural train with the following characteristics.

  • Four or possibly five cars
  • Battery-electric power
  • Space for a dozen cycles
  • A lounge car
  • Space for a snack trolley
  • Space to provide a parcels service to remote locations.

I should also say, that I’ve used trains on routes in countries like Germany, Poland and Slovenia, where a similar train requirement exists.

Norfolk Branch Lines

Consider.

  • North of the Cambridge and Ipswich, the passenger services on the branch lines and the important commuter routes between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich are run by Stadler Class 755 trains, which are designed to be converted to battery-electric trains.
  • Using Hitachi chargers at Beccles, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft, Thetford and Yarmouth and the existing electrification, battery-electric Class 755 trains could provide a zero-carbon train service for Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • With chargers at Dereham and March, two important new branch lines could be added and the Ipswich and Peterborough service could go hourly and zero carbon.
  • Greater Anglia have plans to use the Class 755 trains to run a London and Lowestoft service.
  • Could they be planning a London and Norwich service via Cambridge?
  • Would battery-electric trains running services over Norfolk bring in more visitors by train?

Hitachi may sell a few chargers to Greater Anglia, but I feel they have enough battery-electric trains.

Par And Newquay

The Par and Newquay Line or the Atlantic Coast Line, has been put forward as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

In that related post, I said the line needed the following.

  • An improved track layout.
  • An hourly service.
  • An improved Par station.
  • A rebuilt Newquay station with a second platform, so that more through trains can be run.

I do wonder, if after the line were to be improved, that a new three-car battery-electric train shuttling between Par and Newquay stations could be the icing on the cake.

Exeter And Barnstaple

The Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is one of several local and main lines radiating from Exeter St. David’s station.

  • The Avocet Line to Exmouth
  • The Great Western Main Line to Taunton, Bristol and London
  • The Great Western Main Line to Newton Abbott, Plymouth and Penzance
  • The Riviera Line to Paignton
  • The West of England Line to Salisbury, Basingstoke and London.

Note.

  1. The Dartmoor Line to Okehampton is under development.
  2. Several new stations are planned on the routes.
  3. I have already stated that Exeter could host a charging station between London and Penzance, but it could also be an electrified hub for battery-electric trains running hither and thither.

Exeter could be a city with a battery-electric metro.

Exeter And Penzance

Earlier, I said that I’d trial multiple chargers between Paddington and Penzance to prove the concept worked.

I said this.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

But it is also an enabling route, as it would enable the following battery-electric services.

  • London and Bodmin
  • London and Okehampton
  • London and Paignton and Torquay

It would also enable the Exeter battery-electric metro.

For these reasons, this route should be electrified using Hitachi’s discontinuous electrification.

Swansea And Fishguard

I mentioned Swansea earlier, as a station, that could be fitted with a charging system, as this would allow battery-electric trains between Paddington and Swansea via Cardiff.

Just as with Exeter, there must be scope at Swansea to add a small number of charging systems to develop a battery-electric metro based on Swansea.

Cumbrian Coast Line

This is a line that needs improvement, mainly for the tourists and employment it could and probably will bring.

These are a few distances.

  • West Coast Main Line (Carnforth) and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.1 miles
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield – 25 miles
  • Sellafield and Workington – 18 miles
  • Workington and West Coast Main Line (Carlisle) – 33 miles

Note.

  1. The West Coast Main Line is fully-electrified.
  2. I suspect that Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield and Workington have good enough electricity supplies to support charging systems  for the Cumbrian Coast Line.
  3. The more scenic parts of the line would be left without wires.

It certainly is a line, where a good case for running battery-electric trains can be made.

Crewe And Holyhead

In High-Speed Low-Carbon Transport Between Great Britain And Ireland, I looked at zero-carbon travel between the Great Britain and Ireland.

One of the fastest routes would be a Class 805 train between Euston and Holyhead and then a fast catamaran to either Dublin or a suitable rail-connected port in the North.

  • The Class 805 trains could be made battery-electric.
  • The trains could run between Euston and Crewe at speeds of up to 140 mph under digital signalling.
  • Charging systems would probably be needed at Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead.
  • The North Wales Coast Line looks to my untrained eyes, that it could support at least some 100 mph running.

I believe that a time of under three hours could be regularly achieved between London Euston and Holyhead.

Battery-electric trains on this route, would deliver the following benefits.

  • A fast low-carbon route from Birmingham, London and Manchester to the island of Ireland. if coupled with the latest fast catamarans at Holyhead.
  • Substantial reductions in journey times to and from Anglesey and the North-West corner of Wales.
  • Chester could become a hub for battery-electric trains to and from Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Shrewsbury.
  • Battery-electric trains could be used on the Conwy Valley Line.
  • It might even be possible to connect the various railways, heritage railways and tourist attractions in the area with zero-carbon shuttle buses.
  • Opening up of the disused railway across Anglesey.

The economics of this corner of Wales could be transformed.

My Priority Routes

To finish this section, I will list my preferred routes for this method of discontinuous electrification.

  • Exeter and Penzance
  • Swansea and Fishguard
  • Crewe and Holyhead

Note.

  1. Some of the trains needed for these routes have been delivered or are on order.
  2. Local battery-electric services could be developed at Chester, Exeter and Swansea by building on the initial systems.
  3. The collateral benefits could be high for Anglesey, West Wales and Devon and Cornwall.

I suspect too, that very little construction work not concerned with the installation of the charging systems will be needed.

Conclusion

Hitachi have come up with a feasible way to electrify Great Britain’s railways.

I would love to see detailed costings for the following.

  • Adding a battery pack to a Class 800 train.
  • Installing five miles of electrification supported by a containerised charging system.

They could be on the right side for the Treasury.

But whatever the costs, it does appear that the Japanese have gone native, with their version of the Great British Compromise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Design, Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Some Pictures Of Platform Edges On The Uckfield Branch

I took these pictures on my visit to Eridge station yesterday.

The platform edges are a very mixed bunch.

  • Some are only a couple of years old and were built, as part of new platform extensions.
  • Some were built using pre-fabricated components.
  • Some are of fairly indeterminate age.
  • The ones at Eridge station probably date from when the station was opened in 1868.

I would suspect that your patio is in better condition than some of these important interfaces between train and platform.

So why did I photograph them?

In First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects, Project Number Number 4 from Sheffield Hallam University was entitled Illumin Heated Concrete Platform Coper Slabs and was described like this.

Illuminated and heated low-energy concrete slabs for station platforms, which automatically switch on in freezing conditions to help prevent passengers from slipping on ice.

Some more information was given in Heated Railway Platforms Tested To Avoid Ice Accidents.

Could these platforms be fitted to a set of platform edges like these?

I would hope so.

If so, new smoother platforms and not just the edges, would also hope to cut small falls.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Ready To Charge

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Vivarail could be about to revolutionise rail traction with its latest innovation

The article details their plans to bring zero-carbon trains to the UK.

These are a few important more general points.

  • The diesel gensets in the trains can be eco-fenced to avoid unning on diesel in built-up areas.
  • The Transport for Wales trains could be the last Vivarail diesel trains.
  • A 100 kWh battery pack is the same size as a diesel generator. I would assume they are almost interchangeable.
  • Various routes are proposed.
  • In future battery trains will be Vivarail’s focus.
  • At the end of 2020, a battery demonstration train will be dispatched to the United States.
  • Two-car trains will have a forty-mile range with three-cars managing sixty.
  • Trains could be delivered in nine to twelve months.

The company also sees Brexit as an opportunity and New Zealand as a possible market.

Modifying Other Trains

The article also states that Vivarail are looking at off-lease electric multiple units for conversion to battery operation.

Vivarail do not say, which trains are involved.

Vivarail’s Unique Selling Point

This is the last two paragraphs of the article.

“Our unique selling point is our Fast Charge system. It’s a really compelling offer.” Alice Gillman of Vivarail says.

Vivarail has come a long way in the past five years and with this innobvative system it is poised to bring about a revolution in rail traction in the 2020s.

Conclusion

Could the train, that Vivarail refused to name be the Class 379 trains?

  • There are thirty trainsets of four-cars.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are under ten years old.
  • They meet all the Persons of Reduced Mobility regulations.
  • They currently work Stansted Airport and Cambridge services for Greater Anglia.
  • They are owned by Macquarie European Rail.

I rode in one yesterday and they are comfortable with everything passengers could want.

The train shown was used for the BEMU Trial conducted by Bombardier, Network Rail and Greater Anglia.

The only things missing, for these trains to run a large number of suitable routes under battery power are.

  • A suitable fast charging system.
  • Third rail equipment that would allow the train to run on lines with third-rail electrification.
  • Third rail equipment would also connect to Vivarail’s Fast Charge system

As I have looked in detail at Vivarail’s engineering and talked to their engineers, I feel that with the right advice and assistance, they should be able to play a large part in the conversion of the Class 379 fleet to battery operation.

These trains would be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.

If not the Class 379 trains, perhaps some Class 377 trains, that are already leased to Southern, could be converted.

I could see a nice little earner developing for Vivarail, where train operating companies and their respective leasing companies employ them to create battery sub-fleets to improve and extend their networks.

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw Material For Southern’s Battery Trains

Porterbrook and Southern are proposing to convert a number of Class 377/3 trains to battery operation for the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line, as I wrote about in Electroflex Battery EMU Plan To End Southern Diesel Operation.

This morning I took a ride in a ten-car Class 377 train formed by two three-car Class 377/3 units and one Class 377/4.

I will split my observations into various sections.

First Class

There is a small First Class section.

Is this really needed in a three-car train, considering that some franchises are going for one-class trains?

Gangways

On the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line, I suspect that trains will work in multiple formations, so the gangway will be useful to allow passengers to pass between individual trains.

Interior

The interior is reasonably modern, as the trains were originally built in 2001-2002 and they meet all of the persons of reduced mobility legislation.

Multiple Working

The train I rode on consisted of three Class 377 Trains working together, so it would appear that six, nine and twelve car trains may be possible.

Tables And Cup-Holders

I would prefer full-size tables and perhaps these could be fitted, during the conversion, like they are in some Class 377 trains.

If not tables, then how about some cup-holders?

Universal Access Toilet

A universal-access toilet is fitted in the middle car.

Wi-Fi

Wi-fi appears to be fitted.

25 KVAC Operation

Although the trains are currently configured for operation on 750 VDC trird-rail electrification, these trains can be converted to run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

This would obviously mean that if the trains were no longer needed in Sussex, they could run anywhere else, where there is electrification.

Conclusion

They are a well-equipped train.

It would appear that very little will need to be done to the interior of the train in the conversion.

First may be downgraded to standard and I would fit full tables.

The operator would do what they wanted.

 

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electroflex Battery EMU Plan To End Southern Diesel Operation

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

An electric multiple-unit is to be equipped with batteries for ’first of a kind’ testing which could lead to the end of diesel traction on the Ashford – Hastings and Oxted – Uckfield routes.

The train to be converted is a Class 377/3 train.

  • These are three car trains.
  • There are twenty-nine of these trains.
  • They have 176 seats.
  • They were built in 2001/2002.

The article gives some details of the conversion.

  • The trains would have a range of 60 km.
  • They could be charged in eight minutes.
  • There would be an emergency mode to keep systems running for an hour. Sounds very much like a Class 345 train.
  • Between twenty-five and thirty trains would need to be converted to replace all the diesel trains. Twenty-nine?

The article also says that the General Election has delayed the sign-off.

In August 2018, I wrote Battery Trains On The Uckfield Branch. I was proposing Aventras as they are obviously a more efficient train. The article details a lot of the mathematics involved.

Some Observations

These are my observations on various topics.

Uckfield Branch

The section without electrification on the Uckfield Branch is forty kilometres long.

A train with a full battery can go from one end to the other.

As the train takes eleven minutes to turn round at Uckfield, there is enough time to recharge the batteries.

Would the route be run by three Class 377/3 trains, running as a nine car unit?

Trains would be charged en route between London Bridge and Hurst Green stations and if required at Uckfield.

Would charging at Uckfield be a length of third-rail electrification in the long platform?

It sounds that there is a feasible solution for Uckfield.

Capacity On The Uckfield Branch

Consider

  • Three Class 377/3 trains running together have a capacity of 528 seats.
  • Five Class 171 trains running together have a capacity of 535 seats.

I think that the capacity would be enough.

Number Of Trains Needed For The Uckfield Branch

The round trip on this route takes three hours, so to run an hourly service will need three nine-car trains or nine three-car trains in total. Two trains per hour (tph) will need a total of eighteen trains.

The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line is also forty kilometres long and both ends are already electrified.

Services on the route terminate at Eastbourne in the West and Ashford International in the East.

As the route between Ore and Eastbourne stations is fully electrified, charging at the Western end of the route, will be en route and trains will arrive at Ore with a full battery.

The platform at Ashford International is electrified using third rail and there is adequate time in the turnround to charge the battery, so that it leaves Ashford full.

Train Length On The Marshlink Line

There are some shorter platforms across the Romney Marsh and these may restrict the length of train that can be used. But as they are generally two-car trains at present, even a three-car train is an over fifty percent increase in capacity.

I suspect Southern would probably want to run six-car trains between Ashford and Eastbourne.

Number Of Trains Needed for the Marshlink Line

The round trip on the route takes three hours, so to run an hourly service will need three trains. If they were six cars, then six three-car trains would be needed.

Total Number Of Trains Needed For Both Routes

If nine-car half-hourly trains are run on the Uckfield Branch and hourly six-car trains on the Marshlink, this will need twenty-four trains. As there are twenty-nine trains available for conversion, this would appear to be very convenient.

The article stated that between twenty-five and thirty would need to be converted. So there is probably enough trains to allow for a spare and a couple in maintenance.

What Size Battery Will Be Needed On Each Train?

I will now attempt to estimate the size of battery needed for the train.

The Kinetic Energy Of A Full Train

This is important for two reasons.

  • When a train accelerates from rest, the battery must have enough stored energy to bring that train to the operating speed.
  • When a battery train brakes, the energy of the train, recovered by regenerative braking, must be capable of being stored in the battery.

Note that regenerative braking loses perhaps ten to fifteen percent of the energy at each station stop.

This is the calculation for the kinetic energy.

  • The weight of the empty train is 133.1 tonnes
  • The train has around two hundred passengers, who each weigh 90 kilograms with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This adds a surprising 18 tonnes.
  • The total train weight 151.1 tonnes.

The kinetic energy of the train can be calculated for various speeds using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator.

  • 30 mph – 3.8 kWh
  • 40 mph – 6.7 kWh
  • 50 mph – 10.5 kWh
  • 60 mph – 15.1 kWh
  • 70 mph – 20.6 kWh
  • 100 mph – 42.0 kWh

I have included the last figure, as that is the cruising speed of the train.

When I first calculated train energy figures, I thought these figures were too low, when you consider that according to Ovo Energy, the average electricity consumption of a UK dwelling is about 10 kWh.

Regenerative Braking Losses

If we assume that at each stop fifteen percent of the energy of the train is not recovered, then for a train travelling at 60 mph, then 0.15 * 15.1 or 2.3 kWh will be lost at each stop.

The Uckfield Branch has seven intermediate stops so will lose 15.9 kWh under braking and this will need to be in the battery at the start of the electrification-free run.

The Marshlink Line has six intermediate stops, so will lose 13.6 kWh.

Energy Needed To Maintain Speed And Run The Train

A train needs power for the following purposes.

  • Overcome friction and aerodynamic loses, whilst travelling at the operating speed. When you are riding a bicycle, you need more energy to accelerate, but then you need to keep pedalling to maintain speed.
  • To power the various electrical systems on the train, like air-conditioning, doors, lights and toilets.
  • To power the control systems of the train.

It is generally accepted, that a simple way of expressing the power needed by the train is between 2 and 5 kWh per vehicle-mile.

So power needed by a three-car Class 377 train over the twenty-five miles of both routes will be.

  • 2 kWh per vehicle-mile – 150 kWh
  • 3 kWh per vehicle-mile – 225 kWh
  • 4 kWh per vehicle-mile – 300 kWh
  • 5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 375 kWh

This energy will be taken from the battery.

An Estimate Of Energy Used And Battery Size Required

This calculation is for the Uckfield Branch and I am assuming the following.

  • A cruising speed of 60 mph.
  • Regenerative braking is 85 % efficient.
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile is used in the cruise.

Energy use will be as follows.

  • Initial acceleration to cruising speed – 15.1 kWh
  • Regeneration losses – 7 * 0.15 * 15.1 -15.9 kWh
  • Energy needed to run train – 225 kWh

This gives a total of 256 kWh

There will also need to be a reserve to cater for.

  • Trains stopping because of a problem like cows on the line.
  • Recovery of the train to the nearest station.

The article talked about an emergency mode of an hour.

I wonder if a battery of between three hundred and four hundred kWh would be sufficient.

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

I have various Excel spreadsheets that can model various scenarios.

I’m sure Bombardier have much better information, than I do and can do better than this crude estimate.

Conclusion

This could be the first of many conversions of existing Bombardier Electrostars and Siemens Desiros to battery-electric operation.

January 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No News On Hydrogen Trains For The Midland Main Line

In April 2019, I wrote Hydrogen Trains To Be Trialled On The Midland Main Line, which was based on an article on Railway Gazette that is entitled Bimode And Hydrogen Trains As Abellio Wins Next East Midlands Franchise.

I said this in my post.

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.

Nothing has been heard since about the hydrogen train trial for the Midland Main Line.

But there have been several related developments, that might have implications for the trial.

East Midlands Railway Has Ordered Hitachi Class 810 Trains For EMR InterCity Services

Class 810 trains are Hitachi’s latest offering, that are tailored for the Midland Main Line.

The trains will have a few differences to the current Class 800,/801/802 trains.

But will they be suitable for conversion to hydrogen power?

Consider.

  • The Hitachi trains have a comprehensivecomputer system, that looks at the train and sees what power sources are available and controls the train accordingly.
  • Trains have already been ordered in five, seven and nine-car lengths. I have read up to twelve-car trains are possible in normal operation. See Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?
  • Hydrogen train designs, with a useful range of several hundred miles between refuelling, seem to need a hydrogen tank, that takes up at least half of a twenty metre long carriage.
  • The Hitachi train design has pantographs on the driver cars and can support diesel generator units in the intermediate cars, as it does in current trains.
  • The Japanese are researching hydrogen trains.
  • The five-car Class 802 trains have 2,100 kW of installed generator power.

I think that Hitachi’s engineers can build another carriage, with the following characteristics.

  • It could be based on a Motor Standard car.
  • The passenger seats and interior would be removed or redesigned in a shorter space.
  • Powered bogies would be as required.
  • It would contain a hydrogen tank to give sufficient range.
  • Appropriately-sized batteries and fuel-cells would be inside or under the vehicle.
  • Regenerative braking would help to recharge the batteries.
  • There would probably be no diesel generator unit.

There would need to be a walkway through the car. Stadler have shown this works in the Class 755 train.

A Hydrogen Power car like this would convert a five-car bi-mode diesel-electric train into a six-car hydrogen-electric hybrid train. Or they might just replace one Motor Standard car with the Hydrogen Power Car to create a five-car hydrogen-electric hybrid train, if the longer train would cause problems in the short platforms at St. Pancras.

  • The computer system would need to recognise the Hydrogen Power Car and control it accordingly. It would probably be very Plug-and-Play.
  • The weight of the train could probably be reduced by removing all diesel generator units.
  • The passenger experience would be better without diesel power.
  • The range away from the wires would probably be several hundred miles.

The drivers and other staff would probably not need massive retraining.

What Do I Mean By Appropriately-Sized Batteries And Fuel Cells?

I can’t be sure,, but I suspect the following rules and estimates hold.

  • The batteries must be large enough to more than hold the kinetic energy of a full five-car train, running at the full speed of 140 mph.
  • I estimate that the kinetic energy of the train,will be around 200 kWh, so with a contingency, perhaps battery capacity of between 400-500 kWh would be needed.
  • Currently, a 500 kWh battery would weigh five tonnes, which is of a similar weight to one of the diesel generator units, that are no longer needed.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimated that the all-electric Class 801 train, needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph. This means that travelling at 125 mph for an hour would consume around 2,000 kWh or an output of 2,000 kW from the fuel cell for the hour.
  • Note that 1 kg of hydrogen contains 33.33 kWh of usable energy, so the hydrogen to power the train for an hour at 125 mph, will weigh around sixty kilograms.

From my past experience in doing chemical reaction calculations in pressure vessels, I think it makes the concept feasible. After all, it’s not that different to Alstom’s Breeze.

I would assume, that the train manufacturers can do a full calculation, to a much more accurate level.

Applying The Concept To Other Hitachi Trains

Once proven, the concept could be applied to a large number of Hitachi bi-mode trains. I suspect too, that it could be applied to all other Hitachi A-train designs, that are in service or on order, all over the world.

In the UK, this includes Class 385, Class 395 and Class 80x trains.

Bombardier Have Said That They’re Not Interested In Hydrogen Power

But Electrostars and Aventras have the same Plug-and-Play characteristic as the Hitachi train.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Bombardier have a Hydrogen Power Car design for an Aventra. All that it needs is an order.

They could also probably convert a five-car Class 377 train to effectively a four-car train, with a Hydrogen Power Car in the middle. This would be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Lines. I suspect it could be done to meet the timescale imposed by the transfer of the Class 171 trains to East Midlands Railway.

There must be an optimal point, where converting an electric multiple unit, is more affordable to convert to hydrogen, than to add just batteries.

But then everybody has been dithering about the Uckfield and Marshlink trains, since I started this blog!

Stadler Have Shown That a Gangway Through A Power Car Is Acceptable To Passengers In The UK

Stadler’s Class 755 trains seem to be operating without any complaints about the gangway between the two halves of the train.

Stadler Have Two Orders For Hydrogen-Powered Trains

These posts describe them.

Stadler also have a substantial order for a fleet of battery Flirt Akku in Schleswig Holstein and they are heavily involved in providing the rolling stock for Merseyrail and the South Wales Metro, where battery-powered trains are part of the solution.

It looks to me, that Stadler have got the technology to satisfy the battery and hydrogen train market.

The Driver’s View Of Stadler

It’s happened to me twice now; in the Netherlands and in the UK.

  • Both drivers have talked about hydrogen and Stadler’s trains with the engine in the middle.
  • They like the concept of the engine.
  • The English driver couldn’t wait to get his hands on the train, when he finished his conversion.
  • Both brought up the subject of hydrogen first, which made me think, that Stadler are telling drivers about it.

Or does driving a hydrogen-powered vehicle as your day job, score Greta points in the pub or club after work?

Could The Hydrogen Train On The Midland Main Line Be A Stadler?

Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both controlled by Abellio or Dutch Railways.

In The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen, I laid out what the Dutch are doing to create a hydrogen-based economy in the North of the country.

Stadler are going to provide hydrogen-powered for the plan.

In addition.

  • Greater Anglia have bought a lot of Class 755 trains.
  • A lot of Lincolnshire and Norfolk is similar to the North of the Netherlands; flat and windy.
  • One of these trains with a hydrogen PowerPack, could be an ideal train for demonstrating hydrogen on rural routes like Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln.

But the promise was on the Midland Main Line?

Conclusion

Hydrogen trains seem to be taking off!

Even if there’s been no news about the trial on the Midland Main Line.

 

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Batteries For Bombardier Electrostars

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitle Bombardier And Leclanché Sign Battery Traction MoU.

This is the second paragraph.

According to Bombardier, Leclanché will deliver ‘imminently’ its first performance demonstrator battery systems, after which it will be in line to supply traction equipment worth in excess of €100m for use in more than 10 rolling stock projects.

In Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive, I investigated who was providing two large suitcase-sized batteries for Stadler’s new Class 93 locomotive.

In the related post, I said this about the batteries in the Class 93 locomotive, which I describe as a hybrid locomotive.

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 say 200 litres 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 data sheet, that describes a LT30 Power cell 30Ah.

  • This small cell is 285 mm x 178.5 mm x 12 mm.
  • It has a storage capacity of 65 Wh
  • It has an expedited lifetime of greater than 15,000 cycles.
  • It has an energy density of 60 Wh/Kg or 135 Wh/litre

These cells can be built up into much larger batteries.

  • A large suitcase is 150 litres and this volume would hold 20 kWh and weigh 333 Kg.
  • A battery of 300 litres would hold 40 kWh. Is this a large Swiss suitcase?
  • A box 2.5 metres x 1 metre x 0.3 metres underneath a train would hold 100 kWh and weigh 1.7 tonnes

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

, It would appear that, if the large suitcase batteries are used the Class 93 locomotive will have an energy storage capacity of 80 kWh.

I wonder how many of these batteries can be placed under a Bombardier Eectrostar.

It looks rather cramped under there, but I’m sure Bombardier have the detailed drawings and some ideas for a bit of a shuffle about. For comparison, this is a selection of pictures of the underneath of the driver car of the new Class 710 trains, which are Aventras.

It looks like Bombardier have done a big tidy-up in changing from Electrostars to Aventras.

In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I came to the conclusion that Class 387 trains were the most likely trains to be converted for battery operation.

I also developed Excel spreadsheets that model the operation of battery trains on the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.

AshfordOre

HurstGreenUckfield

Feel free to download and examine.

Size Of Batteries Needed

My calculations in the two spreadsheets are based on the train needing 3 kWh per vehicle-mile to cruise between stations.

To handle the Uckfield Branch, it appears that 290.3 kWh is needed to go South and 310.3 kWh to go North.

I said this earlier.

A box 2.5 metres x 1 metre x 0.3 metres underneath a train would hold 100 kWh and weigh 1.7 tonnes.

So could we put some of these batteries under the train?

The Effect Of More Efficient Trains

My calculations  are based on the train needing 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, but what if the trains are more efficient and use less power?

  • 3 – 290.3 – 310.3
  • 2.5 – 242.6 – 262.6
  • 2 – 194.9 – 214.9
  • 1.5 – 147.2 – 167.2
  • 1 – 99.4 – 119.4

Note.

  1. The first figure is Southbound and the second figure is Northbound.
  2. More power is needed Northbound, as the train has to be accelerated out of Uckfield station on battery power.

The figures clearly show that the more efficient the train, the less battery capacity is needed.

I shall also provide figures for Ashford and Ore.

  • 3 – 288
  • 2.5 – 239.2
  • 2 – 190.4
  • 1.5 – 141.5
  • 1 – 92.7

Note that Westbound and Eastbound energy needs are the same, as both ends are electrified.

I obviously don’t know Bombardier’s plans, but if the train’s energy consumption could be reduced to around 2 kWh per vehicle-mile, a 250 kWh battery on the train would provide enough energy storage for both routes.

Could this be provided by two of Leclanche’s batteries designed to fit a space under the train?

These would be designed to provide perhaps 250 kWh.

What Would Be The Ultimate Range Of A Class 387 Train On Battery Power?

Suppose you have a four-car Class 387 train with 25 kWh of battery power that leaves an electrified station at 60 mph with a full battery.

How far would it go before it came to a lifeless stop?

The battery energy would be 250 kWh.

There would be 20 kWh of kinetic energy in the train.

Ranges with various average energy consumption in kWh per vehicle-mile are as follows.

  • 3 – 22.5 miles
  • 2.5 – 27 miles
  • 2 – 34 miles
  • 1.5 – 45 miles
  • 1 – 67.5 miles

Obviously, terrain, other traffic and the quality of the driving will effect the energy consumption.

But I do believe that a well-designed battery-electric train could easily handle a fifty mile electrification gap.

What Would Be The Rescue Range On One Battery?

One of the main reasons for putting batteries on an electrical multiple unit is to move the train to a safe place for passenger evacuation if the electrification should fail.

This week, there have been two electrification failures in London along, one of which was caused by a failing tree in the bad weather.

I’ll assume the following.

  • The train is a Class 387 train with one 125 kWh battery.
  • The battery is  ninety percent charged.
  • The train will be moved at 40 mph, which has a kinetic energy around 9 kWh.
  • The energy consumption of the train is 3 kWh per vehicle-mile.

The train will use 9 kWh to accelerate the train to line speed, leaving 116 kWh to move the train away from the problem.

With the energy consumption of 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, this would be a very useful 9.5 miles.

Regenerative Braking To Battery On Existing Trains

This has been talked about for the Class 378 trains on the London Overground.

Regenerative braking to batteries on the train, should cut energy use and would the battery help in train recovery from the Thames Tunnel?

What About Aventras?

Comparing the aerodynamics of an Electrostar like a Class 387 train with an Aventra like a Class 710 train, is like comparing a Transit van with a modern streamlined car.

Look at these pictures some of which are full frontal.

It should be noted that in one picture a Class 387 train is shown next to an InterCity 125. Did train designers forget the lessons learned by Terry Miller and his team at Derby.

I wonder how much electricity would be needed to power an Aventra with batteries on the Uckfield branch?

These are various parameters about a Class 387 train.

  • Empty Weight – 174.81 tonnes
  • Passengers – 283
  • Full Weight – 2003 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy at 60 mph – 20.0 kWh

And these are for a Class 710 train.

  • Empty Weight – 157.8 tonnes
  • Passengers – 700
  • Full Weight – 220.8 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy at 60 mph – 22.1 kWh

Note.

  1. The Aventra is twenty-seven tonnes lighter. But it doesn’t have a toilet and it does have simpler seating with no tables.
  2. The passenger weight is very significant.
  3. The full Aventra is heavier, due to the large number of passengers.
  4. There is very little difference in kinetic energy at a speed of 60 mph.

I have played with the model for some time and the most important factor in determining battery size is the energy consumption in terms of kWh per vehicle-mile. Important factors would include.

  • The aerodynamics of the nose of the train.
  • The turbulence generated by all the gubbins underneath the train and on the roof.
  • The energy requirements for train equipment like air-conditioing, lighting and doors.
  • The efficiency of the regenerative braking.

As an example of the improvement included in Aventras look at this picture of the roof of a Class 710 train.

This feature probably can’t be retrofitted, but I suspect many ideas from the Aventra can be applied to Electrostars to reduce their energy consumption.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bombardier push the energy consumption of an Electrostar with batteries towards the lower levels that must be possible with Aventras.

 

 

 

October 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch

In Rounding Up The Class 170 Trains, I said this, which is based on a quote from an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

Are Battery Electrostars On The Way?

The article finishes with this paragraph about the Class 171 trains, that will come from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and be converted back to Class 170 trains.

GTR currently uses the ‘171s’ on the non-electrified Marshlink and Uckfield lines, and the release of these sets to EMR is contingent on their replacement with converted Electrostar EMUs with bi-mode battery capability, removing these diesel islands of operation from the otherwise all-electric GTR fleet.

So are these battery Electrostars finally on their way?

The article got several comments, which said that some five-car Electrostars were to be converted and they would probably be Class 376 trains, that would be used.

The comments also said that Network Rail were working on using short lengths of third-rail to charge the train batteries.

That sounds like Vivarail’s system to me, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Southern’s Current Diesel Fleet

I will start by looking at Southern’s current diesel fleet that works London Bridge and Uckfield stations and the Marshlink Line.

Currently, Southern has a diesel fleet of Class 171 trains.

  • 12 x two-car trains
  • 8 x four-car trains.

According to Modern Railways, the following trains will transfer to EMR Regional in September 2021.

  • 10 x two car
  • 6 x three-car, which will be created by moving a few cars in the four-car trains.

It looks as if after the transfer Southern will be left with eight driver-cars and ten intermediate cars.

This would give them four four-car trains and two spare intermediate cars. I’m sure that someone will have a need for the intermediate cars to lengthen a two-car Class 170 train because of capacity issues.

The Marshlink Line Service

The service on the Marshlink Line is an hourly service between Ashford International and Eastbourne stations.

  • It is run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Trains were four-cars most times I’ve used it.
  • Journey times are around one hour and twenty-minutes.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three four-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if there is a spare train, four trains would be ideal, After all the transfers, this is the remaining number of Class 171 trains, that would be left with Southern.

If they wanyted to get rid of the diesel trains, then they could replace the trains on the Marshlink Line with four four-car battery bi-mode Electrostars!

Network Rail’s Plan For The Uckfield Branch

This document on the Network Rail web site from 2016, is entitled Delivering A Better Railway
For A Better Britain – Route Specifications 2016 – South East.

In the document, this is said about the the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield.

The key issue presently is overcrowding on the shorter length services that operate on the route during and close to the peak hours. As the route is operated by Class 171 diesel units, there is only a small fleet available to the TOC to deploy on the route. As a result some peak and shoulder peak services are not able to operate at the maximum length the route is capable of (8-car).

Electrification schemes in the North West will displace rolling stock to strengthen existing peak services to 8-car and eventually of 10-car operation during CP5, so associated platform lengthening is currently being developed, this will also be compatible with 12-car 20m vehicle trains.

Electrification is still an aspiration for this route or use of battery-powered trains (currently under development) if they are deemed successful.

Signalling is controlled by Oxted Signal Box but during CP5 this will be transferred to Three Bridges ROC.

The key point is that the platforms have been lengthened for 240-metre long trains, which will also allow ten-car Class 171 trains, which have 23 metre vehicles.

The Uckfield Branch Service

The service on the Uckfield Branch is an hourly service between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

  • It is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • The platforms on the route can accept ten-car trains with 23 m vehicles or twelve-car trains with 20 metre vehicles.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three ten- or twelve-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if we add in a spare and perhaps an extra train for the rush hour, it would appear that around half-a-dozen ten- or twelve-car battery bi-mode trains will be needed for the service.

  • As a ten-car train would be two five-car trains, twelve five-car trains would be needed.
  • As a twelve-car train would be three four-car trains, eighteen four-car trains would be needed.

Interestingly, Southern have three trains that could be candidates for conversion to battery bi-modes in their fleet.

  • One hundred and fifty-two four-car Class 377 trains.
  • Thirty-four five car Class 377 trains.
  • Twenty-nine four-car Class 387 trains.

All trains were built for longer commuter journeys,

Which Electrostars Will Be Converted To Battery Operation For The Uckfield Service?

Obviously, the trains must be four- or five-cars and suitable for conversion to battery bi-mode trains, but I feel they must have other features.

  • Toilets
  • First Class seats.
  • Plenty of tables.
  • Wi-fi and plug sockets.
  • Comfortable interiors.
  • End gangways, to ensure staff and passengers can move around the train if required.

I’ll now look at the various fleets of Electrostars.

Class 357 Trains

The Class 357 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect c2c need them and they are not third rail.

Class 375 Trains

The Class 375 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

But if the new Southeastern franchise should decide on a complete fleet replacement, as the trains are dual-voltage, they might be very useful if fitted with a battery capability.

Class 376 Trains

The Class 376 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

The trains are also third-rail only and lack toilets, so would probably need a rebuilt interior.

Class 377 Trains

The Class 377 trains are a possibility as Soiuthern has a large fleet of both four- and five-car trains.

But they would be losing the Class 171 trains, so would probably need to bring in some new trains to have a large enough fleet.

Class 378 Trains

The Class 378 trains can probably be discounted, as London Overground need them.

Class 379 Trains

The Class 379 trains are surely a possibility, as Greater Anglia will be releasing them before the end of 2020.

Consider.

  • There have no new home to go to.
  • I am suspicious that that NXEA overpaid for these trains and Macquarie are sitting on a very good deal, that will cost Grester Anglia a lot to cancel!
  • They appeared to me to be a shoe-in for Corby services, so perhaps they lost out to the Class 360 trains on cost.
  • They are only 100 mph trains, whereas others are 110 mph trains.
  • They would need to be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • The trains are coming up to nine years old and probably need a refresh.
  • They have an interior aimed at airport passengers.

If I was Macquarie, I’d convert these into go-anywhere battery bi-modes for use in small fleets by operators.

But, Porterbrook’s battery-bi-mode conversion of a Class 350 train may be available at a lower price.

Class 387 Trains

The Class 387 trains are surely a serious possibility, for the following reasons.

  • Govia already has fifty-six of these trains on lease and in service.
  • c2c has six trains, that could come off lease in 2021.
  • The trains are dual voltage
  • The trains are 110 mph trains.
  • They can run as twelve-car walk-through trains.
  • Many of the trains are leased from Porterbrook.

I’ve felt for some time, that these trains would make excellent battery bi-modes.

But they are a good fit for Southern, as surely one could be scrounged from their Great Northern fleet to create a prototype for test.

I would feel that having the required number of trains for the Uckfield Branch can be achieved by September 2021, when the Class 171 trains will be sent to the Midlands.

There is also a backstop, in that there are nineteen Class 365 trains in store, which were replaced by Class 387 trains on Great Northern services. If there is a shortage of Class 387 trains during the conversion, surely some of these Class 365 trains could stand in, just as they did successfully in Scotland recently.

My Choice

I would convert Class 387 trains.

  • There are quite a few Class 387 trains, that could be converted.
  • Southern already have fifty-six Class 387 trains.
  • There are enough to convert eighteen for Uckfield and four for the Marshlink
  • It could be possible to deliver the full fleet before the Class 171 trains leave.
  • If during conversion of the trains, they are short of stock, Southern can hire in some Class 365 trains.

It looks to be a low-risk project.

It will also have collateral benefits.

  • The hourly London Bridge and Uckfield service will be raised to maximum capacity without any new infrastructure, except the trains and a number of battery chargers.
  • Diesel will be eliminated in London Bridge station making the station electric trains only.
  • Diesel will be eliminated between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.
  • Efficient regenerative braking to battery would be available on the complete route.
  • A ten-car diesel service between East Croydon and London Bridge will be replaced by a twelve-car electric service. stations.

In addition, if the diesel trains on the Marshlink Line were to be replaced by battery bi-modes, Southern would be a diesel-free franchise.

What About New Trains?

It’s all about the money and whether the new trains could be delivered in time.

I would suspect that Bombardier, CAF, Stadler and others are making competitive proposals to Southern, but would they be more affordable and timely, than a conversion of Class 387 trains?

But could they be as competitive if Bombadier and Porterbrook co-operated to convert some of Porterbrook’s Class 387 trains, that are already leased to Great Northern?

You don’t usually move house if you need a new boiler, you replace the boiler!

What About Hydrogen Trains?

The Alstom Breeze based on a Class 321 train is scheduled to first come into service in 2022. This is too late, as the Class 171 trains are scheduled to leave in September 2021.

Hydrogen trains would need a hydrogen filling station.

Kinetic Energy Of Class 387 Trains

I will calculate the kinetic energy of a four-car Class 387 train.

I will assume the following.

  • Empty train weight – 174.81 tonnes – Read from the side of the train.
  • Seats – 223
  • Standees – 60 – Estimated from the seats/standing ratio of a Class 720 train.
  • Total passengers – 283
  • Each passenger weighs 90 Kg, with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a passenger weight of 25.47 tonnes and a train weight of 200.28 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy calculator, gives the following kinetic energies.

  • 40 mph – 8.89 kWh
  • 50 mph – 13.9 kWh
  • 60 mph – 20.0 kWh
  • 70 mph – 27.2 kWh
  • 80 mph – 35.6 kWh
  • 90 mph – 45.0 kWh
  • 100 mph – 55.6 kWh
  • 110 mph – 67.3 kWh

These figures are for a full train, but even so many will think they are low, when you think that 60 kWh batteries are used in hybrid buses.

A Trip To Uckfield

I took a trip to Uckfield today and these are my observations.

  • The maximum operating speed of the train was no more than 70 mph.
  • For much of the journey the train trundled along at around 40-50 mph.
  • The route is reasonably flat with only gentle gradients.
  • I hardly noticed the diesel engine under the floor of my car.
  • Obviously in the Peak, the engines will have to work harder.

It was a very good demonstration of five Turbostars working in unison.

I can understand why East Midlands Railway are using Class 170 trains, as their standard train for EMR Regional.

Modelling the Route

I have built a mathematical model of the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield using Excel.

Input parameters are.

  • Cruise Energy Consumption in kWh per vehicle mile. I assumed 3 kWh per vehicle mile
  • Cruise Kinetic Energy in kWh. I assumed a 70 mph cruise and used 20 kWh
  • Regeneration Energy Loss as a ratio. I assumed 0.15.

These parameters showed that a battery of between 290 kWh and 350 kWh would be needed, that was full at Hurst Green and was recharged at Uckfield.

Note that Vivarail are talking about putting 424 kWh under a three-car Class 230 train.

This page on the Vivarail web site is entitled Battery Train Update.

This is a paragraph.

Battery trains are not new but battery technology is – and Vivarail is leading the way in new and innovative ways to bring them into service. 230002 has a total of 4 battery rafts each with a capacity of 106 kWh and requires an 8 minute charge at each end of the journey. With a 10 minute charge this range is extended to 50 miles and battery technology is developing all the time so these distances will increase.

So it looks like Vivarail manage to put 212 kWh under each car of their two-car train.

I don’t think putting 350 kWh of batteries under a four-car Class 387 train would be impossible.

I have also created an Excel model for the second route between Ashford and Ore stations.

This shows that a battery of about 300 kWh on the train should cover the route.

It might appear strange that the longer Marshlink route needs a smaller battery, but this is because it leaves both ends of the route with a full battery.

These two links give access to the two Excel models that I have used. Feel free to  access and criticise them.

AshfordOre

HurstGreenUckfield

It does appear, that on both these routes, if a train starts with full batteries, the energy in the battery is reduced in these ways as it travels along the route.

  • There is an energy use to power the train along the line which is proportional to the vehicle-miles.
  • Energy is needed to accelerate the train to line speed after each stop.
  • Energy is needed to operate stop-related functions like opening and closing the doors.

But there will also be energy recovered from regenerative braking from line speed, although this won’t cover the subsequent acceleration.

I suspect with better understanding and better data, Bombardier can create a simple formula for battery size needed based on the following.

  • The length of the route.
  • The number of stations.
  • The line speed
  • The gradient and speed profile of the route
  • The kinetic energy of the train at various loadings and speeds
  • The amount of energy needed for each vehicle mile
  • The efficiency of the regenerative braking

It is not the most difficult of calculations and I was doing lots of them in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Charging The Train At Uckfield

This picture shows the long platform at Uckfield station.

The platform has been built to accept a twelve-car electric train and if traditional third rail electrification were to be installed, this could be used to charge the batteries.

I would use a Vivarail-style system, which I described fully in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

As trains take a few minutes at Uckfield to turnback, I’m sure enough time can be arranged in the timetable to charge the batteries with enough power to get back to the electrification at Hurst Green.

The train would switch the charging system on and off by automatically connecting and disconnecting.

 

 

 

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments