The Anonymous Widower

East West Railway Company To Start Second Phase Of Rolling Stock Procurement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from East West Rail.

These are the three introductory paragraphs.

East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is to restart market engagement with potential train suppliers, as its rolling stock procurement process enters a new phase.

The move follows an initial phase of procurement activity, which EWR Co concluded earlier in the year. A new PIN Notice has been published today to restart engagement with potential suppliers, which includes a set of technical specifications taking account of feedback from the market gained during the initial procurement phase.

This procurement aims to secure a short-term, interim solution to leasing a small fleet of self-powered trains for the Western Section of East West Rail.

The press release has a link to the Prior Information Notice or PIN Notice on the EU database.

along with all the usual contact and other details, this is said about the specification.

The East West Railway Company (EWR Co.) is looking to leasing a fleet of 12 or 14 x 3 car self-powered units with modifications including European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability, supported by a full maintenance package (under a ‘wet’ lease). These units will ensure timely operation of EWR’s Western Section Phase 2 between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Aylesbury. The lease duration would be 4 years, with an option to extend for 2 years.

The date of the notice is the 10th of November 2020, so it has been recently updated.

I commented on these trains in March 2020, when I wrote EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification.

In the intervening eight months, a lot have things have happened.

Awareness Of Green Issues

The Covid-19 pandemic has arrived, with all its ferocity and seems to be moving people in the direction of thinking about green issues and zero-carbon transport.

Type “build back greener UK” into Google and you get lots of articles. Some feature Boris Johnson, like this article on Business Green, which is entitled Boris Johnson To Pledge To ‘Build Back Greener’.

I don’t think the public, myriad engineers and scientists and a good selection of politicians will find it appropriate for the East West Railway to use any rolling stock, that is not zero-carbon and powered by renewable energy.

Hitachi Have Launched The Regional Battery Train In Conjunction With Hyperdrive Innovation

In July 2020, I wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Hitachi had been talking for some time, that they were developing battery electric trains for the UK, but this was the first news of a route to their design, manufacture and into service.

Hitachi also published this YouTube video and this infographic of the train’s specification.

They have also called the train, the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

My estimate is that Oxford and Bedford are under fifty miles apart, so if Hitachi’s train could be charged at both ends of the route, one of their trains could provide a self-powered service between Oxford and Bedford.

It seems that Hitachi have an off-the-shelf train, that fits the specification for the trains required by East West Railway.

Vivarail Have Launched A Fast Charge System

Battery electric trains, like electric vehicles are not much use, if you can’t charge them when it is needed.

The initial Service Pattern of the East West Railway is given in the Wikipedia entry of the East West Railway.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) – Oxford and Milton Keynes Central via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow and Bletchley.
  • One tph – Oxford and Milton Keynes via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgemont.
  • One tph – Aylesbury and Milton Keynes Central via Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.

There are four terminal stations.

  • Aylesbury – No electrification
  • Bedford – Full Electrification
  • Milton Keynes Central – Full Electrification
  • Oxford – No electrification

The existing electrification could be used at Bedford and Milton Keynes Central, whereas some type of charging system, would be needed at Aylesbury and Oxford.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system would surely be a front-runner for installation at Aylesbury and Oxford, if battery electric trains were to be run on the East West Railway.

Choosing A Train

East West Rail have said the following about the train specification.

  • Three cars
  • Self-powered
  • European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability
  • Available on a wet lease, that includes a full maintenance package

The press release from East West Rail and other documents mentions between twelve and fourteen trains will be leased.

In Trains Needed For The East West Railway, I calculated that the proposed services could need around eight or nine trains.

This must mean one of three things.

  • There are plans for extra services.
  • There are plans for the proposed services to be extended.
  • Trains will run some services in pairs.

Because, of the last reason, the trains must have the ability to run in pairs.

As sections of the East West Railway are being built for 100 mph operation, the trains must also have a 100 mph capability.

When I talked briefly about green issues earlier, I said that I felt the trains should be zero-carbon, which would rule out diesel.

That leaves two options for self-powered operation; battery electric or hydrogen.

So what trains fit the specification?

British Rail Era Trains

A large number of British Rail era trains could be suitable for updating for interim use on the East West Railway.

I even suspect, some fantasist will suggest using shortened versions of InterCity 125 trains, as are used in South-West England and Scotland.

But let’s be serious and not insult the intelligence of the three world-leading universities on the final route of the East West Railway.

A lot of money is also being spent on this railway and tarted-up forty-year-old trains would not encourage people to use the new railway.

Class 170 Trains

There are eighty-seven three-car Class 170 trains with various operators, some of which will be surplus to requirements, as they are being replaced with new trains.

But they are diesel, so surely they don’t fit my perceived need for zero-carbon trains.

That would have been true until a couple of weeks ago, when as I wrote in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, Adrian Shooter of Vivarail disclosed an audacious plan to convert, diesel trains into zero-carbon battery electric trains.

Class 170 trains like this were on the list of possible conversions.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.

They could also start the service as diesel trains and gradually converted to battery electric, if this would be better for operation.

Class 175 Trains

The three-car 100 mph Class 175 trains could be a possibility as there are fifteen trains, but they have two problems.

  • They are powered by diesel.
  • They probably won’t be available until 2023.

So I think they can be ruled out.

Class 185 Trains

All the fifty-one Class 185 trains are currently in service with TransPennine Express. They are due to release fifteen trains in 2021 and it was thought that these trains were in prime position for becoming the interim trains for East West Railway.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.
  • The fleet is the right size.

But then the Department of Transport decided to change their plans for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

I wrote about one journey on the overcrowded section of this service in Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich.

The picture shows the inadequate train formed of an assorted collection of Class 153 trains, I took from Liverpool to Sheffield.

The service is now being split at Nottingham and East Midlands Railway will receive the released Class 185 trains for the Liverpool and Nottingham portion of the service.

A fleet of these Class 185 trains will surely offer more comfort on a very busy service.

So it is looking unlikely that Class 185 trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 220, 221 and 222 Trains

These three fleets of Voyager trains could be a possibility, as they can be shortened to three-car trains.

But they have disadvantages.

I think it is unlikely, that these trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 350 Trains

There are thirty-seven Class 350 trains, that were built only twelve years ago, that have been retired. The owner; Porterbrook are planning to convert them into battery electric versions, which they have called BatteryFLEX trains.

Unfortunately, they are four-cars and unlike other trains, it doesn’t appear that they can be shortened to three cars.

Class 375, 377, 379 and 387 Trains

These four fleets of Electrostar trains could be a possibility for running as battery electric trains.

  • Some are three-car trains and four-car trains can be converted to three-car trains, by simply removing a car.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Bombardier converted a Class 379 train for battery operation and I have heard or seen no adverse reports from either passengers, rail staff or journalists.
  • They can work in multiple formations.
  • They are all wired for dual-voltage operation.
  • Pantographs wells have already been fitted to trains that normally work using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The picture shows the Class 379 train, that was converted to battery electric operation.

The Class 379 trains, also have the advantage, that there is a fleet of thirty trains, that are being replaced by Greater Anglia, who are homeless.

If I were the owner of the Class 379 trains, I’d do the following.

  • Convert them all into battery electric trains.
  • Shuffle cars around to get a mix of three-, four- and five-car trains to match market opportunities.
  • Make them compatible with Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.
  • Do a licensing deal with Vivarail, so I could supply the chargers.

This plan has some big advantages.

  • Battery electric operation of the Class 379 trains has been successfully proven.
  • Some Class 379 trains are already available for conversion, as they have been replaced by Greater Anglia.
  • The trains could easily be delivered in time for the opening of the East West Railway.
  • The trains would not need to be replaced, if the East West Railway was to be fully electrified in the future.
  • If I leased out all the Class 379 trains, I’m fairly sure that I could acquire some other Electrostars to convert.

The trains would surely be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings, which are to be run by battery electric trains.

  • The order for these services is still to be announced.
  • This use would be a trial application of the highest quality.
  • I suspect that five-car trains would be ideal for these Southern routes.
  • In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I estimated that Southern would need twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch and four trains for the Ashford and Hastings service.

It looks to me, the thirty four-car Class 379 trains could be converted into the following battery electric trains.

  • Twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch.
  • Four four-car trains for Ashford and Hastings.
  • Fourteen three-car trains for the East West Railway.

Using battery electric Class 379 trains for the East West Railway, the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings. looks from the engineering, numbers and financial points of view to be a very efficient proposition.

Class 385 Trains

As I indicated earlier, Hitachi have the technology to create a Class 385 train with a battery capability.

  • They appear to be talking to ScotRail.
  • Are they talking to Vivarail about using their Fast Charge system?
  • As the trains would be new, East West Railway would get trains to their specification.

Battery electric Class 385 trains must be a serious proposition.

Class 600 Trains

The Class 600 train could be an interesting possibility.

The trains can be powered by both hydrogen and overhead or third-rail electrification.

  • The trains are three-cars long.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • First in-service dates are scheduled for 2024, which could be convenient.
  • The trains will have a state-of-the-art Renatus interior.
  • They will not need charging and could probably be refuelled as infrequently as only once per day.

I am not worried, by the train being powered by hydrogen, but because of the large tanks in the train, the passenger capacity will be lower, than a diesel, electric or battery electric train of a similar length.

I suspect though, that Alstom will be pitching for the order.

Aventras

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over nine years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 trains use super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

I believe that Bombardier, have the ability to build an Aventra to this specification.

  • Three-cars
  • 100 mph running
  • Sixty mile range on battery power.
  • Dual voltage.
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Like the Hitachi trains, they would be new build.

CAF

CAF have proposed a battery electric train based on the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

It is a four-car development of the three-car Class 331 trains.

Can it be built as a three-car train to fit the specification?

Conclusion

There are some good candidates sir supplying an interim fleet of trains for the East West Railway.

My money’s on one of the following.

  • New Hitachi Class 385 trains
  • Converted Class 379 trains.
  • New Aventras

All would be battery electric trains.

But there is a change that Alstom’s Class 600 hydrogen trains could be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020

I hadn’t intended to go to Grantham station, but that’s what I did on the last day before lockdown.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to a guy in Lincolnshire, who read Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, on this blog.

Last week, we both realised that we’d worked together in the 1970s, when he worked at a bank in the City, and I did some data analysis for the section, where he worked.

He is unwell with cancer at the moment and suggested I come down and see him in Skegness, where he now lives with his wife.

So I arrived at Grantham and found that the connecting train was running nearly an hour late and even then it was terminating at Boston.

After a quick exchange of texts, I told him the bad news and he gave me the good news, that his condition had improved and would be able to see me after Christmas and/or lockdown.

Luckily, I was able to change my ticket and took the next train back to London, after taking these pictures of the station.

I just had time to have a last drink of Aspall cyder before lockdown, in the station bar.

These are some thoughts.

Platform Layout At Grantham

The Wikipedia entry for Grantham station says this about the platforms.

It is composed of four platforms; platforms 1 and 2 are on the East Coast Main Line and are responsible for express services between London and Scotland. Platform 1 serves exclusively London King’s Cross via Peterborough and Stevenage; Platform 2 serves cities of northern England and Edinburgh. Platform 2, 3 and 4 are formed from a large island platform structure. Platform 3 is a bay platform at the northern end of the station that is used to allow local trains to reverse, while Platform 4 is a two-way platform that is used by East Midlands Railway. Only Platform 1 has amenities, including toilets, refreshments and a buffet.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from East to West.
  2. Platforms 1 and 2 are long enough to take two five-car Class 800 trains working as a pair.
  3. Platform 4 may be long enough for these pairs of trains or could be made so.
  4. All trains to and from Nottingham call in Platform 4.
  5. Trains from Nottingham to Peterborough call in Platform 4 before crossing over to the down lines.
  6. There would appear to be no easy way for a Southbound train on the East Coast Main Line to access Platform 4.
  7. Platform 3 didn’t get much use on the day I visited.

There is also an avoiding line to allow freight and other passing trains to avoid going through the platforms.

Services Through Grantham Station

Services stopping at Grantham are as follows.

  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Harrogate via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Bradford Forster Square via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Lincoln via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and York via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster.
  • Hull Trains – Five tpd – London Kings Cross and Hull via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough
  • Hull Trains – Two tpd – London Kings Cross and Beverley via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough, Hull and Cottingham.
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Horwich via Peterborough and Nottingham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Nottingham and Skegness

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. tp2h is trains per two hours.
  3. tpd is trains per day.

Adding the services together, there is a frequent service between Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate.

Train Timings Between London Kings Cross and Grantham

The fastest trains take 67 minutes between London Kings Cross and Grantham.

  • The distance is 105.5 miles
  • This would be an average speed of 94.5 mph.
  • The East Coast Main Line is being upgraded with in-cab digital ERTMS signalling, which will allow 140 mph running.
  • The works at Kings Cross station will have increased the station’s capacity.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a time between London Kings Cross and Grantham, of under an hour, time-tabled in the near future.

Could There Be A London Kings Cross and Nottingham Service Via Grantham?

On this page on UK Rail Forums, this was posted in 2010.

According to today’s East Midlands news on BBC1, Network Rail is considering inviting tenders to run a faster service from Nottingham to London King’s Cross via Grantham, from 2014. The present service of around 1hr 45m is considered too slow by passengers.

How would this new service be reconciled with the much-publicised capacity constraints at Welwyn and at King’s Cross itself? Will the proposed possible service be diesel-powered under the wires from Grantham, or will the Grantham-Nottingham stretch be electrified? Interesting times.

Technology has changed since 2010 and the East Coast Main Line has improved.

  • King;s Cross station is being sorted.
  • Digital ERMTS signalling is coming to the East Coast Main Line
  • Hatachi’s new Class 800 trains have arrived and could go between Grantham and Nottingham on diesel power.
  • Grantham and Nottingham takes 35 minutes on a service with three stops, that’s timed for a Class 153 train.
  • Grantham and Nottingham is just over twenty miles.

As I said earlier, that I believe Grantham and London could be inside an hour, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Nottingham and London Kings Cross service in under an-hour-and-a-half.

But it could be better than that?

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This is the train that could unlock the potential of a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

This Hitachi infographic gives details of the train.

Note that the train has a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles, at speeds of up to 100 mph.

The trains would be ideal for a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

  • They would charge the batteries, whilst using the electrification on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The battery range is such, that it would not need any charging between leaving Grantham and returning there from Nottingham.
  • They could travel at speeds of up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, once the digital ERTMS  signalling is installed.
  • Stops could be at Stevenage, Peterborough and Grantham.

LNER’s five-car Class 800 trains, which are branded Azumas can be turned into Regional Battery Trains, by replacing the three diesel engines with battery packs.

I would suspect that times of around eighty minutes, between London Kings Cross and Nottingham, could be in order.

A Park-And-Ride For Nottingham And London

Nottingham has several Park-and-Ride sites, that are served by the trams. of the Nottingham Express Transit, which already calls at Nottingham station.

Would another site on the rail line between Grantham and Nottingham be useful?

This map shows. where the rail line crosses the A46, near its junction with the A52.

Note the Grantham and Nottingham line running across the top of the map and the big junction between the A52 and the A46.

It looks to be a good place for a Park-and-Ride station, if it was decided one needed to be built.

There might also be sites further in towards Nottingham, close to the racecourse or the Holme Pierpoint National Watersports Centre.

A Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire Service

I originally called this section a Combined Nottingham And Lincoln Service, but I don’t see why it can’t serve most of both counties.

Consider.

  • Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford and Southend get two services from the capital by different routes.
  • Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can Split/Join in around two minutes.
  • Running five-car Class 800 trains all the way between London Kings Cross and Lincoln is not a good use of a valuable train path on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Lincoln is just 16.5 miles and 24 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Nottingham is 22 miles and could be 20 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Both Lincoln and Nottingham would be in battery range for a return trip from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Platforms 1, 2 and 4, at Grantham are long enough to handle two Class 800 trains, running as a pair and regularly pairs call in Platforms 1 and 2.

I believe it would be possible for a pair of Regional Battery Trains to do the following.

  • Leave London Kings Cross and run to Grantham in an hour, stopping at Stevenage and Peterborough.
  • Stop in Platform 4 at Grantham station, where the trains would split.
  • One train would continue on the East Coast Main Line to Newark North Gate station, where it would leave the East Coast Main Line and go to Lincoln.
  • The other train would continue to Nottingham.

Note.

  1. Coming back, the process would be reversed with trains joining in Platform 1 or Platform 4 at Grantham.
  2. There may need to be some track and signalling modifications, but nothing too serious or challenging.

Connections to other parts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire would be as follows.

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire would be connected using the Nottingham Express Transit and the Robin Hood and Maid Marian Lines from Nottingham station.
  • All stations between Grantham and Nottingham would be reached from either Grantham or Nottingham.
  • All stations to Boston and Skegness would be reached from Grantham.
  • All stations between Newark and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Newark.
  • All stations between Doncaster and Lincoln would be reached from either Doncaster or Lincoln.
  • All stations between Peterborough and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Peterborough.
  • All stations to Market Rasen, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes would be reached from Lincoln.

Note.

  1. I feel that some Lincoln services could be extended to Cleethorpes via Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  2. Hopefully, a timetable could be developed, so that no connection was overly long.

Most of the distances are not unduly long and I would hope that most secondary services could be battery electric trains, which would be charged in the larger stations like Boston, Cleethorpes, Doncaster, Grantham, Lincoln, Mansfield, Nottingham, Peterborough, Sleaford, Spalding and Worksop.

Doncaster, Grantham and Peterborough already have 25 KVAC overhead electrification and this could be used to charge the trains, with possibly some small extensions.

The other stations will need a number of systems to charge the trains, as they pass through.

Some stations will be suitable for the installation of the standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but others will need specialised charging systems.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system must surely be a front-runner for installation.

What frequency of the Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire service would be needed and could be run?

Consider.

  • Currently, Lincoln is served with one tp2h with a five-car Class 800 train running the service.
  • The Lincoln service alternates with a one tp2h service to York, which also calls at Retford and Doncaster.
  • Work is progressing on increasing the number of high speed paths on the East Coast Main Line.

Obviously, an hourly service to both Nottingham and Lincoln would be ideal and would give most of the two counties an hourly service to and from London Kings Cross with a single change at either Doncaster, Grantham. Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham or Peterborough.

  • An hourly service might be difficult to timetable because of the York service.
  • But I don’t believe it would be impossible to setup.

Especially if after, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two opens, East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross to North of York are replaced in part, by High Speed Two services.

The Effect Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will build a new station at Toton called East Midlands Hub station.

  • The station will be situated about halfway between Nottingham and Derby, with frequent connections to both cities.
  • There will be frequent services to Birmingham, Leeds, London, Newcastle and Sheffield.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see a direct service to Edinburgh and Glasgow from the station.
  • There will be a lot of economic growth around the station.

I very much feel, that a lot of passengers were travel to East Midlands Hub station for both long distance trains and to access the Derby-Nottingham area.

A Cambridge And Birmingham Service

In How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?, I proposed a Cambridge and Birmingham Curzon Street service.

This is what I said.

The obvious one is surely Cambridge and Birmingham

  • It would run via Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham and East Midlands Hub.
  • It would connect the three big science, engineering and medical centres in the Midlands and the East.
  • It would use High Speed Two between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.
  • It could be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

It might even be a replacement for CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service.

Timings for the various legs could be.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough – CrossCountry – 49 minutes
  • Peterborough and Grantham – LNER – 19 minutes
  • Grantham and Nottingham -Best Estimate – 20 minutes
  • Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street – Midlands Rail Engine – 33 minutes

Note.

  1. This totals to two hours and one minute.
  2. The current service takes two hours and forty-four minutes.
  3. The Ely and Peterborough and Grantham and Nottingham legs are not electrified.

If the route were to be fully electrified or the trains were to be fitted with batteries, the time via High Speed Two, would surely be several minutes under two hours.

Conclusion

These objectives are possible.

  • An hourly service between London Kings Cross and Grantham, Lincoln, Newark and Nottingham.
  • A very much more comprehensive train service for Nottingham and Lincolnshire.
  • A two hour service between Cambridge and Birmingham.

Most of the services would be zero carbon.

No major infrastructure would be needed, except possibly completing the electrification between Nottingham and Ely, some of which is probably needed for freight trains anyway.

Alternatively, the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains could be fitted with batteries.

 

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Saltburn Station – 28th October 2020

I paid a quick visit to Saltburn station.

I would have had a bigger look round, but time was tight.

The reason the time was tight, was a classic example of what you get with a rail route, with only one train per hour (tph). The next train would have meant, I’d missed my train to London and would have had to buy another ticket.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. There are two platforms.
  2. The station appears to be close to the Town Centre.
  3. There is a branch leading South to the Boulby Mine. This branch is used to handle the output of the mine, which is polyhalite and rock salt.

These are my thoughts.

Four tph Between Darlington And Saltburn

Four tph is planned between Darlington and Saltburn.

  • Two platforms at Saltburn will surely help.
  • All intermediate stations have two platforms.
  • The route is double track all the way, except for the approach to Darlington station.

I discussed the approach from the East to Darlington station in Darlington Station – 28th October 2020 and suggested that a dive-under is needed to allow the following.

  • High speed trains can make a fast approach and departure from the new high speed platforms at Darlington.
  • Saltburn to Bishop Auckland services to avoid crossing the East Coast Main Line on the flat to access Platform 4 at Darlington.
  • Darlington and Saltburn services to sneak under the East Coast Main Line and access Platform 2 at Darlington.

There may also need to be some track modifications to the North of Darlington station, but as there are two tph between Bishop Auckland and Darlington to accommodate, the modifications would probably be less extensive.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Saltburn

I doubt that this would be essential, as Middlesbrough is only thirteen miles away, but there is surely space to fit in one of Vivarail’s Fast Charge systems in the station.

Passenger Services On The Boulby Mine Branch

If housing is developed around Saltburn, this could be a possibility at some time in the future.

This was the route of the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway, which was closed in 1958 and then reopened to Boulby Mine in the 1970s.

There were originally two stations between Saltburn and Boulby; Loftus and Grinkle.

In a section of the Wikipedia entry for the railway called The Railway Today, this is said.

In January 2019, Campaign for Better Transport released a report identifying the line between Saltburn and Loftus which was listed as Priority 2 for reopening. Priority 2 is for those lines which require further development or a change in circumstances (such as housing developments)

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a passenger service on this route.

This Google Map shows the Boulby Mine and the Coast.

Note.

  1. The Boulby Mine  is at the Western side of the map.
  2. The village of Staithes has strong connections to Captain Cook.
  3. The original railway. that ran South of the site of the mine through Staithes and on to Whitby is now a walking route.

I wonder if there should be a station close to the mine.

Conclusion

There is a lot of potential to improve the railway between Middlesbrough and Saltburn.

 

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Megawatt Charging System Set To Rapidly Reduce Fuelling Time For Commercial EVs

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Electric Autonomy Canada.

This is the sub-title.

An international task force says their recent high power “charge-in” event has yielded promising results with successful testing of novel connector prototypes that could overhaul the long-haul industry.

The problem of charging heavy freight trucks is a big market in North America and it seems that the event attracted some big players, like ABB, Daimler and Tesla.

  • In the trucking industry, speed and range count for a lot.
  • Trucks need to be charged during a driver’s rest break of about thirty minutes.
  • In the U.S., transport made up 28 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Charging lots of trucks on typical state-of-the-art car chargers would probably crash the system.

The Megawatt Charging System aims to solve the problems.

How Would It Work?

This paragraph from the article, outlines the problems.

But how, one may ask, could such a massive electrical draw — as much as 4.5 megawatts — be supported by a grid, especially when the usage scale is not just one truck charging up, once a day, but thousands of 18-wheelers rolling and charging across the country.

The MCS Task Force seem to be suggesting that these systems will work as follows.

  • A large battery or energy storage system will be trickle charged.
  • The truck will be connected and the electricity will flow into the truck.
  • It could all be automated.

It sounds very much like Vivarail’s Fast Charge system, which uses batteries as the intermediate store.

As an Electrical and Control Engineer, I would use a battery with a fast response.

I think I would use a Gravitricity battery. This page on their web site describes their technology.

Gravitricity™ technology has a unique combination of characteristics:

  • 50-year design life – with no cycle limit or degradation
  • Response time – zero to full power in less than one second
  • Efficiency – between 80 and 90 percent
  • Versatile – can run slowly at low power or fast at high power
  • Simple – easy to construct near networks
  • Cost effective – levelised costs well below lithium batteries.

Each unit can be configured to produce between 1 and 20MW peak power, with output duration from 15 minutes to 8 hours.

 

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teeside’s Refurbished Trains

On my trip around Teeside, I took four trains.

There was none of the usual rubbish, that I have endured in the North like this scrapyard special at Carlisle.

All trains were refurbished Class 158 trains.

They were a lot better, with tables and clean, working toilets.

But will they get replaced with hydrogen or updated to zero-carbon trains?

Hydrogen Trains

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I talked about the local services on Teesside being run by a fleet of hydrogen trains, based on an article in RAIL Magazine.

But the order has not been placed and it must be getting tight if trains are going to run in a few years.

There was this report in the November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub.

This is the first paragraph.

Mott MacDonald is to create a masterplan for the development of a hydrogen transport hub  in the Tees Valley. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement as he travelled on the HydroFLEX on the 29th of September.

It appears the masterplan could be published in January and would cover several modes of transport.

Battery Electric Trains

There have been developments in the battery electric train field over the past few months.

Hitachi at Newton Aycliffe and Hyperdrive Innovation at Sunderland have partnered up to produce Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train. Three-car trains based on Hitachi’s Class 385 trains would be ideal for trundling around the North East.

The trains would need charging and what better charging system is there than Vivarail’s Fast Charge system? And they could be produced at Vivarail’s factory at Seaham just up the coast towards Sunderland.

As I indicated in £100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services, where I said this about the location of chargers to power battery electric trains in the Tees and the Tyne.

There will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

    • Hexham
    • Nunthorpe
    • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
    • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

Vivarail might just have another card or should it be train to play.

In the video, Mr. Shooter discusses using Vivarail’s technology to convert British Rail era diesel multiple units to battery electric trains.

Northern have already refurbished the Class 158 trains, so it would surely be an economical route to convert them to battery electric operation.

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Northern Echo.

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric

Consider.

  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.

Note.

  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York and Durham
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common and York.

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line, as against High Speed Two, which will be a 225 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.

Conclusion

I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Testing Begins On Midland Main Line Electrification

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

  • From the article, it looks like the first part of mechanical testing has been completed as planned and unpowered pantograph runs have been performed at up to 110 mph.
  • It does seem to me, that this thirty  miles of electrification has avoided the troubles that have plagued similar projects in recent years.

Perhaps the good progress on this electrification, is making the government think again about early electrification of all of the  Midland Main Line

In Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification. I showed how battery electric Class 810 trains would be able to work the route.

This was my conclusion of that earlier post.

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

There was one thing, that wasn’t available, a month ago, when I wrote that post – A charging system for battery electric trains, that could be installed at Nottingham.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I report on Adrian Shooter’s plans for Vivarail, which are outlined in a video by Modern Railways.

Ar one point he says this   see about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

So could we see a Hitachi Class 810 train using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system at Nottingham?

In Interview: Hitachi’s Nick Hughes On Driving Innovation In Rail Propulsion, Nick Hughes of Hitachi is quoted as saying.

Rail is going to become increasingly digitised and integrated into other sectors involved in smart cities, mobility-as-a-service and flexible green grid. Therefore, Hitachi Rail won’t be able to stay at the forefront of innovation by its self. This is why we are focused on building partnerships with other like-minded, innovative, clean tech companies like Hyperdrive Innovation, Perpetuum and Hitachi group companies such as Hitachi ABB.

Does Vivarail fit that philosophy? In my view, it does!

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The range on battery power is 90 km or 56 miles at up to 100 mph.
  2. Class 810 trains could be converted to battery electric trains by replacing the diesel engines with batteries.
  3. As the electrification has reached Kettering. there is only 55 miles between London St Pancras and Nottingham without electrification.

I could see Class 810 trains running between St. Pancras and Nottingham on delivery, provided the following projects have been completed.

  • Hitachi have been able to give the Class 810 trains a range of say 60 miles on batteries.
  • Hitachi have modified their trains, so they can be recharged by a Vivarail Fast Charge system in fifteen minutes.
  • Vivarail have installed a Fast Charge facility at Nottingham station.

Network Rail are planning to extend the electrification from Kettering to Market Harborough, which would reduce the distance without electrification to under 50 miles. This would make running battery electric trains between London St. Pancras and Nottingham even easier.

Expanding The Network

If I am putting two and two together correctly and Hitachi have turned to Vivarail to provide a charging system or a licence for the use of the technology, I am sure, it would be possible to create a comprehensive network of battery electric trains.

Consider.

  • Hitachi should be able to squeeze a sixty mile range at 90-100 mph from a battery-equipped Class 810 trains.
  • Market Harborough and Derby are about 47 miles apart.
  • Derby and Sheffield are about 36 miles apart
  • Sheffield and Leeds are about 48 miles apart
  • Corby and Leicester are about 41 miles apart.

Vivarail Fast Charge systems at Derby, Leicester and Sheffield would enable the following routes to be run using battery electric trains.

  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via Derby – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leeds via Derby and Sheffield – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via the Erewash Valley Line – Fast Charging at Ilkeston (?) and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester via Corby – Fast Charging at Leicester

Note.

  1. The only extra electrification needed for the initial network would be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  2. The Class 810 trains would all be identical.
  3. The Class 810 trains might even be built and delivered as battery electric trains
  4. Trains would also charge the batteries between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, between London St. Pancras and Corby. and between Leeds and Wakefield Westgate.

The network can be extended by adding more electrification and Fast Charge systems.

Conclusion

The technologies of Hitachi and Vivarail seem complimentary and could result in a fully electric main line train network for East Midlands Railway.

 

 

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Modern Railways web site.

This is the introductory subtitle.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter talks to Modern Railways about the company’s Class 230s and its plans for battery trains.

The article is mainly a video of Mr. Shooter talking in front of various examples of Vivarail trains.

It’s probably easier to watch the video and listen on what is said.

But I have some thoughts on what he said.

Battery Range

Consider.

  • Early on in the video he talks about a battery range of forty miles with four battery packs on the train.
  • He also talks about switching battery supplier to Hoppecke.
  • Later he says that a train with six battery packs in the train, has a hundred mile range.

That is impressive.

The number of battery packs has increased by 50 % and the range has gone up by two-and-a-half times.

If those figures are right and I’ve no reason to disbelieve them, then Hoppecke have done a good job with the batteries.

A very rough calculation indicates their size.

  • The current 4 x 100 kWh takes the train 40 miles, which is 10 kWh per mile.
  • So to travel a hundred miles will need 1000 kWh.
  • Divide by six batteries and you get 167 kWh per battery or a 67 % increase in individual battery capacity.

If these are a new generation of batteries, what would they do for Hitachi’s Regional Battery train, which is proposed to have a range of 56 miles? They could give it a range of around 93 miles.

These ranges of distances would be very useful to manufacturers of battery trains.

Charging Battery Trains Using Vivarail’s Fast Charge System

The video did give a few more details of Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

I was also able to take this screen capture from the video, which shows the extra rails used to pass charge to the train and the batteries.

Note.

  • The rails are well-shielded. Not that they’re live unless a train is over the top and connected.
  • The driver  just has to stop the train in the correct place and automation does the rest.
  • This image is four minutes and thirty-five seconds into the video.

My only problem with the design is that those thick copper cables used to bring electricity to the train, way be a tempting target for metal thieves.

Vivarail Now Has Permission To Charge Any Train

Mr. Shooter said this about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

In the November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a transcript of what Mr. Shooter said.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I hope Mr. Shooter knows some affordable lawyers, as in my experience, those working in IPR are not cheap.

A Prototype Class 230 Train That Can Use 25 KVAC Is Under Construction

Mr. Shooter also announced that a version of the train with a third can in the middle, with a pantograph on the roof and a 35 KVAC transformer is under construction.

This will enable batteries to be charged from existing electrification.

I can already think of a few routes, where this train could be used.

  • Bedford and Bletchley – It would replace a diesel-electric Class 230 train.
  • Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood
  • Oxenholme and Windermere
  • Glasgow Central and East Kilbride
  • Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland
  • Chester and Crewe – It would replace a battery Class 230 train
  • West Ealing and Greenford
  • Slough and Windsor Central
  • Henley and Twyford
  • Maidenhead and Marlow

This could be the standard train in many places.

The November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, also has more details on this project.

  • The centre vehicle is under construction at their factory at Seaham in County Durham.
  • Mr. Shooter is quoted as saying. ‘We’ve identified 60 lines on partially electrified tracks’

Vivarail plans to demonstrate the concept on the Northumberland Line to Blyth and Ashington next spring.

West Highland Opportunity

This is a section of the print article, that is not mentioned in the video.

This is the introductory paragraph.

While Mr. Shooter highlights several opportunities south of the border to deploy the 25kV/battery Class 230, he is particularly interested in deployment of Vivarail trains in Scotland.

And this is the last paragraph, describing a possible deployment on the West Highland Line.

Top of the list is the West Highland Line.

Here a 25kV/battery Class 230 would operate under electric power from Glasgow Queen Street to Craigendoran Junction, switching there to battery power. The batteries could be topped up on the way using Vivarail’s fast charge system, with Mr, Shooter suggesting this could take place at Crianlarich, Oban and Fort William. On the West Highland the 60 mph top speed of the Class 230 is not prohibitive as the top speed on the route does not exceed this.

If this sounds familiar, I made a similar proposal in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, in a section, which is entitled Electric Trains On The West Highland Line Between Glasgow And Mallaig/Oban. I start with this sentence.

This might be considered as difficult as putting a London bus on the Moon.

But that was done by the Daily Sport newspaper, so perhaps my reasoning is the same as Vivarail’s.

My conclusion of the section was as follows.

What would battery-electric trains to Oban and Mallaig do for tourism in the area?

Hitachi would have one of the most scenic and iconic test tracks in the world!

These statements would surely, apply to a Vivarail train or a battery electric Class 385 train.

Pop-Up Metro

Mr. Shooter shows a battery train, which is going to the United States to trial a concept called a Pop-up Metro.

  • In the US, there are hundreds of lightly used freight lines serving towns and cities
  • Temporal separation would mean that freight and passenger trains used the lines at different times of the day.
  • Battery powered Vivarail trains could provide a Metro service.

He also talked about his US partner and 50 % shareholder in Vivarail, leasing trains for a year, to see if the concept was viable in a given area. He indicated, the cost could be less than a consultant’s report.

Could the Pop-up Metro concept work in the UK?

In these possible Beeching Reversal projects, there could be scope for using the concept.

Note.

  1. Some of these are on heritage railway infrastructure. Does a Class 230 train count a heritage unit?
  2. The Aston Rowant Extension is Chiltern territory, so Mr. Shooter could know it well!
  3. In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 230 train, there is a useful Cost Comparison.

I should say, that I like the concept of a Pop-up Metro.

  • The trains have proved they are up to the job.
  • A package of one or two trains and a containerised charging system could surely be created.
  • Installation of the battery charger in many platforms would not be a major engineering project costing millions.
  • On a heritage railway, the enthusiasts could probably do it from their own resources.

But the best point to me, is that a system could probably be leased for a year on a Try-Before-You-Buy basis for less than the cost of a consultant’s report.

Go for it!

Conversion Of Diesel Multiple Units To Battery Electric Multiple Units

This was the bombshell in the tail of the video.

There a lot of diesel multiple units in the UK and Mr. Shooter and Vivarail have developed a plan to convert some of them to battery electric operation.

The trains he is proposing to convert are diesel multiple units, that use a Voith transmission, which I list in How Many Diesel Multiple Units In The UK Have Voith Hydraulic Transmissions?.

Consider.

  • There are 815 trains on my list.
  • All have a Voith hydraulic transmission, with most having similar type numbers starting with T211.
  • Some are 75 mph trundlers and others are full-on 100 mph expresses.
  • All have one engine and transmission per car.

They fit into distinct groups.

Sprinters

Sprinters are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

The earliest were built in 1984 and all were built in the last century.

  • There are 314 trains in total.
  • All have a Cummins engine of 213 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 75 mph.

The trains may be elderly, but like some well-known actresses, they scrub up well with a little TLC.

The pictures show an immaculate refurbished Class 150 train, that I travelled on in Devon.

With a battery electric transmission, they would make a superb rural route and branch line train.

Express Sprinters

Express Sprinters are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

  • The earliest were built in 1990 and all were built in the last century.
  • There are 202 trains in total.
  • All have a Cummins engine of between 260 and 300 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 90 mph.

These pictures show a Class 159 train on a visit to the Swanage Railway, where it was shuttling in visitors.

With a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 90 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

Scotrail have forty Class 158 trains, which run on the following routes.

  • Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland – 5.5 miles
  • Fife Circle Line – 61 miles round trip
  • Stonehaven and Inverurie – 66 miles round trip.
  • Borders Railway – 70 miles round trip.
  • Edinburgh and Arbroath – 76 miles
  • Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh – 82.5 miles
  • Inverness and Aberdeen – 108 miles – Inter7City route.
  • Inverness and Wick – 174 miles
  • Inverness and Edinburgh – 175 miles – Inter7City route.

Note.

  1. The routes are shown in order of length.
  2. Anything over a hundred miles would need intermediate charging.
  3. Some routes would need charging at both ends.
  4. Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland would probably not need a Class 158, but is very suitable for a battery electric train.
  5. The three longest routes from Inverness are probably too long for battery electric power, but two are run by Inter7City trains.
  6. A battery electric train on the Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh route, would surely be a tourist asset.

With an eighty mile range, ScotRail could find a battery-equipped Class 158 train very useful.

Networkers

Networkers are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

  • The earliest were built in 1990 and all were built in the last century.
  • There are 96 trains in total.
  • All have a Perkins engine of 261 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 75 or 90 mph.

These pictures show ac selection of Class 165 and Class 166 trains.

As with the Express Sprinters, with a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 90 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

The Networkers are used by Great Western Railway and Chiltern Railways.

  • Great Western Railway do run a few long routes with their Networkers, but these routes would probably be too long for battery operation.
  • Local routes around Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth and some short branch lines could be possibilities for battery operation.
  • Great Western Railway have also leased tri-mode Class 769 trains for the Reading and Gatwick route.
  • Chiltern Railways don’t run their Networkers on the longer routes to Birmingham.
  • But they do run them on the shorter routes to Aylesbury (39 miles), Aylesbury Vale Parkway (41 miles), Banbury (69 miles), Gerrards Cross (19 miles), High Wycombe (28 miles), Oxford (66 miles) and Stratford-upon-Avon (104 miles).
  • Some of these Chiltern routes must surely be possibilities for battery operation. Especially, as all the stations in the list, don’t appear to be the most difficult to add a Fast Charge facility.

With an eighty mile range, battery-equipped Networkers could be very useful.

Turbostars

Turbostars are a group of trains that were produced at Derby.

  • The earliest were built in the last few years of the the last century.
  • There are 177 trains in total.
  • All have an MTU engine of 315 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211 transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 100 mph.

These pictures show a selection of Turbostar trains.

As with the Express Sprinters and the Networkers, with a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 100 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

The post; DfT and Arriva CrossCountry Sign Agreement is partly based on this article on Railway News, which has the same name.

This is a paragraph from the original article.

One element of this new contract is a focus on reducing the environmental impact of the operator’s diesel fleet. For instance, Arriva CrossCountry will do a trial of using electrical shore supplies on its Bombardier Turbostar fleet when these trains are in depots for cleaning. Trains are cleaned both in the winter and at night, which means that the interior lighting and heating systems have to be powered. By using electricity to power these systems instead of the trains’ diesel engines, there will be a reduction in both emissions and noise pollution, which is doubly important when the depots are near built-up areas.

If Turbostars were to have their power unit and transmission updated to battery electric, there would be less need to provide shore supplies to where the trains were to be cleaned.

How Would Sprinters, Express Sprinters, Networkers And Turbostars Be Converted To Battery Electric Power?

The layout of the transmission in all these trains is very similar.

That is not surprising, as they are effectively different interpretations of the same theme over four decades.

  • A diesel engine provides the power.
  • On the back of the diesel engine, a hydraulic transmission is mounted.
  • The transmission performs a similar function to an automatic gearbox in a car. Trains like cars perform better in the right gear.
  • The transmission is connected to the final drive in one or more of the bogies using a cardan shaft. The propeller shaft in many rear-wheel-drive vehicles, is a cardan shaft.

In the video at about 5 mins 50 seconds, Mr. Shooter outlines how the train will be converted to battery electric drive.

  • The diesel engine, hydraulic transmission, radiator, fuel tank and all the other diesel-related gubbins will be removed.
  • A 280 kW electric traction motor will be installed, which will be connected to the cardan shaft.
  • Batteries will be installed. Possibly, they will fit, where the diesel engine was originally located.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the weight of the battery was similar to that of all the equipment that has been removed, as this would mean the train’s handling wouldn’t change.

  • Acceleration will be faster, as it is in electrically-powered road vehicles.
  • The traction motor can work in reverse to slow the train and the energy regenerated by braking can be stored in the batteries.
  • Mr. Shooter doesn’t say if his battery electric trains use regenerative braking in the video, but it is possible and a common procedure, as it saves energy.

An intelligent control system will control everything  according to the driver’s needs and wishes.

This extract from the print edition, gives Mr. Shooter’s advantages of this diesel to battery electric conversion.

‘Unlike cars, trains have a planned duty cycle so you can easily plan for when the batteries should be charged’ says. Mr. Shooter. ‘Our analysis shows the fuel cost would be halved and the maintenance cost would be halved compared to a DMU. And to allay concerns about battery life we would offer to lease batteries on a cost per mile. You get the financial payback within five years, with the greenness free of charge!’ Mr. Shooter reports early work by Vivarail suggests a converted battery train on the Far North line might need fast charge stations at four locations.

 

Where In The World Is This?

The print edition of the interview poses an interesting question.

Mr. Shooter says the opportunities are significant, and reports Vivarail is in discussions with an overseas customer about a bid for battery trains for a new 500 mile line which would incorporate 12 fast charge points at stations. He also said customers are suggesting the use of solar parks or even tidal power to feed the static batteries at the fast charge stations, rather than power coming from the local supply.

Imagine two large cities about 500 miles apart, with a string of small towns between them.

  • The small towns might be on a scenic river or coastline.
  • Commuters drive to both cities.
  • People from the two cities visit the area to relax.
  • There might even be a lightly used freight line or a dismantled railway alignment running between the cities.
  • Perhaps, the road network is overloaded and a green alternative is needed.

Given, Vivarail is part-owned, by an American entrepreneur, I would expect, the proposed line is somewhere in North America. But I also think there would be possibilities in Australia, around the coast of the Baltic Sea and India and South East Asia.

Cpnclusion

This is the conclusion of the print article in Modern Railways.

While electrification will be the key component in decarbonising traction emissions, battery technology will have a role to play, and Vivarail is at the forefront of this development.

I wholeheartedly agree.

 

October 18, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Vivarail Targets Overseas Markets

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

This is an extract from the article.

Shooter told RAIL: “We are at the moment putting together a bid for an operator – not in this country – where the routes would be up to 500 miles long, to be provided totally with battery trains using this device.

“This bid we are putting together contemplates trains that are running for several hours – 60 to 70 miles between charging stations, but possibly going twice that far in emergency if the charging station should go down.”

By this device I suspect they mean their Fast Charge device, which is described in this press release from Vivarail.

This extract describes how it works.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoegear connects with the sections of charging rail.  The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

That sounds simple to me.

Where Would This Possible Order Be From?

I have ridden in a Vivarail battery train, as I wrote in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

I have also ridden the diesel variant, as I wrote in A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train.

I very much feel, I can list a few of the good qualities of the trains.

Big Windows

The big windows give a good view, so I wonder if the trains would work well on a railway noted for its scenery.

Quietness

I have ridden in two battery trains.

The other was Bombardier’s Class 379 BEMU, that I wrote about in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

Both were extremely quiet.

No Infrastructure Required

Except for the charging stations, no infrastructure is required.

Sturdy Engineering

Although the trains were only originally built for the London Underground, they are sturdily-built trains, as they used to share tracks with full-size trains.

I suspect, they are certified to share tracks with freight trains, as they do on the Marston Vale Line.

A Range Of Interiors And Customer Facilities

Although the trains tend to use the old London Underground seat frames, they have a range of interiors, which seem to be well-designed and comfortable.

I have been on Class 230 trains, with tables, a single toilet, onboard Wi-Fi, and electrical charging points.

Zero-Carbon

The trains are probably as near to zero-carbon, as any! Especially, if all the Fast Charge stations are powered by renewable electricity.

Remote Servicing

The trains have been designed for remote servicing.

Conclusion

All of these qualities lead me to think, that an ideal line in the UK could be the Far North Line, between Inverness and Wick and Thurso.

Although the train ticks a lot of boxes, it could well be too slow, It is also only a 160 mile route and not five-hundred

But there must be quite a few long, scenic lines in countries, where a passenger service needs to be added to a freight line, that perhaps serves a remote mining town.

Sweden and Norway are surely possibilities, but Finland is ruled out because it is Russian gauge.

Could the trains end up in parts of Africa, Canada and the United States?

Who knows?

September 3, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , | 9 Comments

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly Service

Whilst I was at Basingstoke station yesterday one of CrossCountry‘s services between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly came through, so I took these pictures.

It was a long formation of Class 220 trains.

Could This Service Be Replaced By Hitachi Regional Battery Trains?

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

I feel that in most condition, the range on battery power can be up to 56 miles.

I can break the Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly route into a series of legs.

  • Bournemouth and Basingstoke – 60 miles – 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • Basingstoke and Reading – 15.5 miles – No electrification
  • Reading and Didcot North Junction – 18 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • Didcot North Junction and Oxford – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Oxford and Banbury – 22 miles – No electrification
  • Banbury and Leamington Spa – 20 miles – No electrification
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Coventry and Manchester Piccadilly – 101 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification

Note.

  1. 63 % of the route is electrified.
  2. The short 15.5 mile gap in the electrification between Basingstoke and Reading should be an easy route for running on battery power.
  3. But the 62 mile gap between Didcot North Junction and Coventry might well be too far.

The train would also need to be able to work with both types of UK electrification.

If some way could be found to bridge the 62 mile gap reliably, Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains could work CrossCountry’s service between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly.

Bridging The Gap

These methods could possibly  be used to bridge the gap.

A Larger Battery On The Train

If you look at images of MTU’s Hybrid PowerPack, they appear to show a basic engine module with extra battery modules connected to it.

Will Hitachi and their battery-partner; Hyperdrive Innovation use a similar approach, where extra batteries  can be plugged in as required?

This modular approach must offer advantages.

  • Battery size can be tailored to routes.
  • Batteries can be changed quickly.

The train’s software would know what batteries were fitted and could manage them efficiently.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train able to handle a gap only six miles longer than the specification.

Battery And Train Development

As Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train develops, the following should happen.

  • Useable battery capacity will increase.
  • The train will use less electricity.
  • Actions like regenerative braking will improve and recover more electricity.
  • Driving and train operating strategies will improve.

These and other factors will improve the range of the train on batteries.

A Charging Station At Banbury Station

If some form of Fast Charge system were to be installed at Banbury station, this would enable a train stopping at Banbury to take on enough power to reliably reach Oxford or Coventry depending, on their final destination.

This method may add a few minutes to the trip, but it should work well.

Electrification Of A Section Of The Chiltern Main Line

This could be an elegant solution.

I have just flown my helicopter between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations and these are my observations.

  • The Chiltern Main Line appears to be fairly straight and has received a top class Network Rail makeover in the last couple of decades.
  • There are a couple of tunnels, but most of the bridges are new.
  • Network Rail have done a lot of work on this route to create a hundred mph main line.
  • It might be possible to increase the operating speed, by a few mph.
  • The signalling also appears modern.

My untrained eye, says that it won’t be too challenging to electrify between say Bicester North station or Aynho Junction in the South and Leamington Spa or Warwick Parkway stations in the North. I would think, that the degree of difficulty would be about the same, as the recently electrified section of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Corby stations.

The thirty-eight miles of electrification between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations would mean.

  • The electrification is only eight-and-a-half miles longer than Bedford and Corby.
  • There could be journey time savings.
  • As all trains stop at two stations out of Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Warwick Parkway, all pantograph actions could be performed in stations, if that was thought to be preferable.
  • Trains would be able to leave the electrification with full batteries.
  • The electrification may enable some freight trains to be hauled between Didcot and Coventry or Birmingham using battery electric locomotives.

Distances of relevance from the ends of the electrification include.

  • London Marylebone and Bicester North stations – 55 miles
  • London Marylebone and Aynho junction – 64 miles
  • Didcot North and Aynho junctions – 28 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry stations – 10 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 23 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 15 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham New Street stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Kidderminster – 40 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 12 miles

These figures mean that the following services would be possible using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Kidderminster
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • CrossCountry – Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly
  • CrossCountry – Southampton Central and Newcastle
  • Midlands Connect – Oxford and Birmingham More Street – See Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

Other services like Leicester and Oxford via Coventry may also be possible.

As I see it, the great advantage of this electrification on the Chiltern Main Line is that is decarbonises two routes with the same thirty-eight miles of electrification.

Conclusion

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly service could be run very efficiently with Hitachi’s proposed Regional Battery Train.

My preferred method to cross the electrification gap between Didcot North junction and Coventry station would be to electrify a section of the Chiltern Main Line.

  • The electrification would be less than forty miles.
  • I doubt it would be a challenging project.
  • It would also allow Hitachi’s proposed trains to work Chiltern Main Line routes between London Marylebone and Birmingham.

I am fairly certain, that all passenger services through Banbury would be fully electric.

 

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