The Anonymous Widower

Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This article on isleofwhiteradio is entitled Funding From Government To Develop Isle Of Wight Railway Reopening Proposals.

The article lists two proposed schemes for expansion of the Island Line.

• Extension of the existing Island Line service (Ryde-Shanklin) south of Shanklin to reach Ventnor, calling at Wroxall.
• Integration with, and extension of, the existing Isle of Wight Steam Railway route to provide passenger services through Smallbrook from Ryde to Newport.

The article has an informative map.

Nearly, three years ago, I wrote Diesel And Battery Trains Could Be The Solution For Island Line, based on an article on the Island Echo, with the same title.

Since then, things have moved on and these developments have started.

  • Vivarail are building a fleet of five new zero-carbon Class 484 electric trains.
  • Network Rail have promised £5 million to upgrade Ryde Pier to secure the future of the line.
  • The track and signalling system will be upgraded this winter.
  • The passing loop at Brading will be reinstated.

This will allow a thirty minute service interval from May 2021.

Wikipedia states that a twenty-minute service could be possible in the future.

The Trains

These pictures show the Class 230 trains on the Marston Vale Line.

Note.

  1. These are a diesel-electric version of the Class 484, which will use the existing third-rail electrification and possibly batteries on the Island Line.
  2. The operator can choose an interior appropriate to their needs.
  3. Three-car versions of the train have been ordered by Transport for Wales.

Battery versions of the train are available with a forty-mile range, See Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power.

The Extension To Ventnor

Looking at the map and measuring distance using methods that would have been known to Drake and Grenville, I estimate that the distance between Shanklin and Ventnor via Wroxhall is less than fifteen miles.

  • As the battery range of Vivarail’s trains can be in the region of forty miles, this must open up the possibility of using battery power between Shanklin and Ventnor.
  • Building the extension without electrification would lower the cost.
  • Trains running from Shanklin to Ventnor would be charged on the electrified section of the route.
  • One of Vivarail’s charging systems could be installed at Ventnor if required. See Charging A Battery-Powered Class 230 Train.

Would Vivarail just add a third car with batteries to the Class 484 trains and update the software to enable trains to run on the extension to Ventnor?

The Extension To Newport

The Island Line connects to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction station.

Note.

  1. The Island line running North-South on the Eastern side of the map.
  2. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway curving away to the South-West.
  3. The two railways connecting at Smallbrook Junction station.
  4. Ryde is to the North.
  5. Shanklin is to the South.
  6. Newport is to the West.

I doubt, that allowing trains to run between Ryde and Newport, would be one of the most challenging projects in railway engineering.

The map on the isleofwightradio web site, shows a chord, that would allow trains to run between Shanklin and Newport.

I would estimate that the distance between Smallbrook Junction and Newport is around ten miles.

  • The terminus would appear to be in the Barton area of Newport.
  • Much of the route would appear to be across open countryside.
  • The only place for a station could be the Isle of Wight Crematorium. Why not?

As with the extension to Ventnor, I believe that battery-electric Class 484 trains could run services to Newport.

Will The Isle Of Wight Steam Railway Object?

I very much feel, that if the scheme is well-designed, that they could be a beneficiary because of increased numbers of visitors.

The scheme might also be able to give the steam railway paths to run steam trains as far as Ryde St. John’s Road station.

Conclusion

This proposal is an elegant one, that uses proven technology and builds smoothly on work, that is already underway.

It is also a zero-carbon solution, if the electricity is from renewable sources.

I also suspect, if Network Rail put one of their brighter teams on the current upgrade to the track and signalling of the Island Line, that the extra work needed to connect to Ventnor and Newport, could be planned and costed in a very short time.

 

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Train With A Geo-Fence

This article on Rail Advent is entitled New Train For Wrexham to Bidston Line Begins Testing.

The testing of Vivarail‘s Class 230 train for Transport for Wales, is taking place along the Cotswold Line, prior to entering service.

This is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The train is also geo-fenced so that the gensets are never used in stations or sensitive areas, although, the batteries are extremely quiet anyway.

From personal experience of battery trains, including Vivarail’s prototype in Scotland, battery trains are very quiet.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Site For Battery Train Sceptics

I meet and get messages from a lot of people, who are sceptical, that battery-powered trains will ever be a viable alternative to diesel-powered ones.

I have just read this post on Vivarail’s web site, which is entitled Battery Train Update.

It is very open and informative and is very much a must read for anybody interested in the future of railways worldwide or the application of battery-powered trains.

The introductory sentence of the update is very heartening.

Our first production train is in its final build stage and is due to go out on the network – fully approved for passenger service – by the summer.

Provided of course, the COVID-19 situation will allow everybody to travel.

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Lightweight Trains And No Taboos In French Secondary Line Rescue Package

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Development of lightweight rolling stock is one of several proposals put forward by the government to try and ensure the survival of much of the remaining network of secondary lines, many of which carry very limited traffic.

This problem of secondary lines exists in other countries, like Germany, Italy and to a certain extent the UK.

I will argue that Vivarail, with their Class 230 train are following a similar plan to that proposed for France.

  • Lightweight well-proven design.
  • Battery-powered.
  • Modern interior.
  • Designed for short branch lines and secondary routes.

Will Vivarail be talking to the French? Probably not, as using old London Underground stock in rural France would see a large clash of national egos.

But the philosophy could be transplanted across the Channel.

Perhaps some smaller British designs like an Aventra could also be used on French rural routes, that are electrified?

 

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Charging Battery Trains

In Sparking A Revolution, I talked about Hitachi’s plans to develop battery versions of their Class 800 trains.

The article also gives the specification of a Hitachi battery train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

These figures are credited to Hitachi.

Methods Of Charging

I can envisage two main methods of changing battery trains.

  • Static charging in a station, depot or siding.
  • Dynamic charging, whilst the train is on the move.

I am not covering other possible methods like battery swapping in this post.

Static Charging

Hitachi only mention static charging in their specification and they give a charge time of ten minutes.

This is a very convenient time, when you consider quite a few trains take around 10-15 minutes to turn round at a terminus.

Two companies have stated that they have products that can charge battery trains in around this time.

  • Vivarail offers a system based on well-proven third-rail electrification technology.
  • Furrer and Frey offers a system based on overhead electrification technology.

I suspect that other companies are developing systems.

Dynamic Charging

With dynamic charging, the batteries are charged as the trains run along standard electrified routes.

In the UK, this means one of two systems.

  • 750 VDC third rail electrification
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification

Both systems can be used to charge the batteries.

Note that in the BEMU Trial in 2015, the Class 379 train used for the trial charged the batteries from the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

A Mixture Of Dynamic And Static Charging

Many routes will be handled by a mixture of both methods.

As an example London Paddington and Cheltenham is electrified except for the 42 miles between Swindon and Cheltenham.

A round trip between London Paddington and Cheltenham could be handled as follows.

  • London Paddington to Swindon using electrification – Dynamic charging battery at the same time!
  • Swindon to Cheltenham using battery power
  • Turnround at Cheltenham – Static charging battery at the same time!
  • Cheltenham to Swindon using battery power
  • Swindon to London Paddington using electrification

Note the following.

  1. Two legs of the round-trip are run using electrification power.
  2. Two legs of the round-trip are run using battery power.
  3. There is one dynamic charge and one static charge of the batteries.

No diesel power would be used on the journey and I suspect journey times would be identical to the current timetable.

I suspect that many routes run by battery electric trains will employ a mixture of both dynamic and static charging.

Here’s a few examples.

  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate
  • London St Pancras and Melton Mowbray
  • London Euston and Chester
  • London Paddington and Bedwyn

There are probably many more.

Intermediate Charging On A Long Route

South Western Railway has a fleet that is nearly all-electric.

But they do have forty diesel trains, which are mainly used for services between London Waterloo and Exeter.

These don’t fit with any decarbonising strategy.

There is also the problem that the route between London Waterloo and Exeter, is only electrified as far as Basingstoke, leaving a long 124 miles of route without electrification.

This means that a battery train needs to charge the batteries at least twice en route.

Charging At A Longer Stop

The obvious approach to providing en route charging would be to perform a ten minute stop, where the batteries are fast charged.

Looking at Real Time Trains, the stop at Salisbury is often five minutes or more, as trains can join and split and change crews at the station.

But two stops like this could slow the train by fifteen minutes or so.

Charging At A An Electrification Island

On the section of the route, West of Salisbury, there are a series of fairly close-together stations.

  • Tisbury – 7 miles
  • Gillingham – 16 miles
  • Templecombe – 18 miles
  • Sherborne – 23 miles
  • Yeovil Junction – 39 miles
  • Crewkerne – 48 miles
  • Axminster – 61 miles

Note,

The distances are from Salisbury.

  1. Much of this nearly ninety mile section of the West of England Line between Salisbury and Exeter is single track.
  2. The Heart of Wessex Line between Westbury and Weymouth crosses at Yeovil Junction.
  3. There are three sections of double track and four passing loops.
  4. There is a passing loop at Axminster.

It strikes me that the optimal way of charging battery trains on this secondary route might be to electrify both the West of England and Heart of Wessex Lines around Yeovil Junction station.

The power for the electrification island, could come from local renewable sources, as proposed by Riding Sunbeams.

Distances from Yeovil Junction station are.

  • Bath Spa – 50 miles
  • Castle Cary – 12 miles
  • Exeter St. Davids – 49 miles
  • Salisbury – 39 miles
  • Weymouth – 30 miles

With a battery-electric train with a 55-65 mile range, as proposed in Hitachi’s draft specification, SWR’s London Waterloo and Exeter service would certainly be possible. Charging would be at Salisbury and in the Yeovil area.

On Summer Saturdays, SWR also run a London Waterloo and Weymouth service via Salisbury and Yeovil Junction. This would appear to be within the range of a battery-electric train.

As Weymouth is electrified with third-rail, I suspect that arranging charging of a battery-electric train at the station, will not be an impossible task.

The other service through the area is Great Western Railway‘s service between Gloucester and Weymouth, that runs every two hours.

It would appear that in some point in the future, it will be possible to run this service using a Hitachi battery-electric train.

Third-Rail Or Overhead?

The previous example of an electrification island would probably use 750 VDC third-rail electrification, but there is no reason, why 25 KVAC overhead electrification couldn’t be used.

Note that these trains have been talked about as possibilities for running under battery power.

  • Greater Anglia’s Class 379 trains, built by Bombardier
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, built by Stadler.
  • Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains, built by Stadler.
  • Scotrail’s Class 385 trains, built my Hitachi
  • Several companies’ Class 800 trains, built by Hitachi
  • Suthern’s Class 377 trains, built by Bombardier

All the manufacturers named have experience of both dual-voltage trains and battery operation.

I would suspect that any future battery-electric trains in the UK will be built to work on both of our electrification systems.

When talking about battery-electric trains, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may have advantages.

  • It can be easily powered by local renewable sources, as Riding Sunbeams are proposing.
  • It is compatible with Vivarail’s Fast-Charging system.
  • Connection and disconnection is totally automatic and has been since Southern Railway started using third-rail electrification.
  • Is is more affordable and less disruptive to install?
  • Third-rail electrification can be installed in visually-sensitive areas with less objections.

Developments in third-rail technology will improve safety, by only switching the power on, when a train is connected.

More Electrification Islands

These are a few examples of where an electrification island could enable a battery-electric train to decarbonise a service.

London Euston and Holyhead

In Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?, I looked at running Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains between London Euston and Holyhead.

I proposed electrifying the fourteen miles between Rhyl and Llandudno Junction stations, which would leave two sections of the route between London Euston and Holyhead without electrification.

  • Rhyl and Crewe is fifty-one miles.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles.

Both sections should be within the battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains, with their 55-65 mile range.

The following should be noted.

  • The time between arriving at Rhyl station and leaving Llandudno Junction station is nineteen minutes. This should be time enough to charge the batteries.
  • Either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used.
  • There could be arguments for third-rail, as the weather can be severe.
  • The railway is squeezed between the sea and the M55 Expressway and large numbers of caravans.

The performance of the new trains will be such, that they should be able to run between London Euston and Holyhead in a similar time. Using High Speed Two could reduce this to just under three hours.

Edinburgh And Aberdeen

I’m sure Scotland would like to electrify between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

But it would be a difficult project due to the number of bridges on the route.

Distances from Edinburgh are as follows.

  • Leuchars – 50 miles
  • Dundee – 59 miles
  • Arbroath – 76 miles
  • Montrose – 90 miles
  • Stonehaven – 114 miles
  • Aberdeen – 130 miles

A quick look at these distances indicate that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains with a 55-65 mile range could cover the following sections.

  • Edinburgh and Dundee – 59 miles
  • Arbroath and Aberdeen – 56 miles

Would it be possible to electrify  the seventeen miles between Dundee and Arbroath?

I have just flown my helicopter along the route and observed the following.

  • Dundee station is new and appears to be cleared for overhead wires.
  • Many of the bridges in Dundee are new and likely to be cleared for overhead wires.
  • There is a level crossing at Broughty Ferry station.
  • Much of the route between Broughty Ferry and Arbroath stations is on the landward side of golf links, with numerous level crossings.
  • Between Arbroath and Montrose stations, the route appears to be running through farmland using gentle curves.
  • There is a single track bridge across the River South Esk to the South of Montrose station.
  • According to Wikipedia, the operating speed is 100 mph.

Montrose might be a better Northern end to the electrification.

  • It has a North-facing bay platform, that could be used for service recovery and for charging trains turning back to Aberdeen.
  • Montrose and Aberdeen is only forty miles.
  • It might be possible to run the service between Montrose and Inverurie, which is just 57 miles on battery power.

The problem would be electrifying the bridge.

Operationally, I can see trains running like this between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

  • Trains would leave the electrification, just to the North of Edinburgh with a full battery.
  • Battery power would be used over the Forth Bridge and through Fife and over the Tay Bridge to Dundee.
  • Electrification would take the train to Arbroath and possibly on to Montrose. The battery would also be charged on this section.
  • Battery power would take trains all the way to Aberdeen.

Trains would change between battery and electrification in Dundee and Arbroath or Montrose stations.

My one question, is would it be a good idea to electrify through Aberdeen, so that trains returning South could be charged?

I believe that four or five-car versions of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains would be able to run the route.

Glasgow And Aberdeen

This builds on the work that would be done to enable battery-electric trains go between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The route between Glasgow and Dundee is partially-electrified with only a forty-nine mile section between Dundee and Dunblane without wires.

I believe that four or five-car versions of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains would be able to run the route.

 

To Be Continued…

 

Conclusion

I don’t think it will be a problem to provide an affordable charging infrastructure for battery trains.

I also think, that innovation is the key, as Vivarail have already shown.

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Akiem Acquires Macquarie European Rail Fleet

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Leasing company Akiem Group has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Macquarie European Rail’s rolling stock leasing business, subject to regulatory approval.

Included in the deal are thirty Class 379 trains, currently used on the Stansted Express and soon to be replaced by new Class 745 trains.

Because of the lack of any published plans about where the Class 379 trains will be cascaded, I have been wondering if there is something wrong with the trains or perhaps their owner.

As the latter looks now to be changing from Macquarie to Akiem, perhaps we’ll hear some news on what is happening to the Class 379 trains.

I still feel the Class 379 trains would make excellent battery-electric trains, possibly for an airport service.

But which train operating company would need a fleet of thirty four-car electric trains?

Most have now sorted their fleet requirements and when Bombardier get their production working smoothly, perhaps with Alstom’s backing, there will be more trains being delivered to train operating companies.

But there is one fleet replacement, where battery-electric Class 379 trains may be ideal; the replacement of South Western Railway (SWR)‘s fleet of Class 158 and Class 159 trains.

Consider.

  • 10 x two-car Class 158 trains and 30 x three-car Class 159 trains could be replaced by 30 x four-car Class 379 trains, which would be a near ten percent increase in carriages.
  • 90 mph diesel trains, that were built in the 1990s, will be replaced by 100 mph battery-electric trains, that are not yet ten years old.
  • The Class 379 trains are Electrostars and fitting third-rail shoes, will be straight out of Bombardier’s parts bins.
  • Waterloo station will become another diesel-free London terminus.
  • Fellow French company; Alstom could step in to the picture with their battery knowledge from other products like the iLint hydrogen train and convert the trains at Widnes or one of their other maintenance depots.
  • South Western Railway and Akiem would need to procure a charging system and could probably do worse than see what Vivarail or Furrer and Frei can supply!

How would the Class 379 battery-electric trains handle various services?

London Waterloo To Salisbury And Exeter St. Davids

The most difficult service to run, would be the London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids service via Salisbury.

Note that when SWR bid for the franchise, they promised to knock ten minutes off the time to Exeter and they will need 100 mph trains for that!

With climate change in the news, only a hardline climate-change denier would buy 100 mph diesel trains.

In Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?, I suggested how Waterloo and Exeter could be run with a battery-electric train, with a range of around sixty miles on battery power.

  • Use existing electrification, as far as Basingstoke – 48 miles
  • Use battery power to Salisbury – 83 miles
  • Trains can take several minutes at Salisbury as they often split and join and change train crew, so the train could be fast-charged, at the same time.
  • Use battery power to the Tisbury/Gillingham/Yeovil/Crewkerne area, where trains would be charged – 130 miles
  • Use battery power to Exeter- 172 miles

Note.

  1. The miles are the distance from London.
  2. The charging at Salisbury could be based on Vivarail’s Fast-Charging or traditional third-rail technology.
  3. The charging around Yeovil could be based on perhaps twenty miles of third-rail electrification, that would only be switched on, when a train is present.
  4. Charging would also be needed at Exeter for the return journey.

I estimate that there could be time savings of up to fifteen minutes on the route.

London Waterloo To Salisbury And Bristol Temple Meads

This service in run in conjunction with the Exeter St. Davids service, with the two trains joining and splitting at Salisbury.

As Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads is 53 miles, it looks like this service is possible, providing the following conditions are met.

  • The Class 379 train has a sixty mile range on battery power.
  • The train can charge at Bristol Temple Meads, perhaps by using the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 379 trains can join and split with the with amount of alacrity.

Note that there may be other places, where a tri-mode capability might be useful.

Exeter And Axminster

This shorter trip is thirty miles and if the battery range is sufficient, it could probably be run by a Class 379 train, charged at Exeter.

If necessary, a method of charging could be provided at Axminster.

Romsey And Salisbury Via Southampton Central

This route is partially electrified and it looks like a battery-electric train with a sixty mile range could run the service without any extra infrastructure.

If Salisbury, gets a charging system, then this service might be used to ensure a reliable or extended service.

Portsmouth Harbour And Basingstoke And Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central

These two services could be run by Class 379 trains running using the electrification.

London Or Wareham and Corfe Castle

This Summer Saturday-only service is an ideal one for a battery-electric train.

New Services

There are also other branches that could be reopened, like those to Ringwood and Hythe, that could be worked by battery-electric trains.

Conclusion

It will be very interesting to see where the Class 379 trains end up.

But my money’s on them replacing South Western Railways, diesel trains, after conversion to battery-electric trains.

  • Only limited infrastructure works will need to be done.
  • South Western Railway will have more capacity.
  • Passengers will get a faster service in a modern train.
  • Waterloo will become a diesel-free station.

But most importantly, South Western Railway will have an all-electric fleet.

 

 

 

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?

In Sparking A Revolution, a post based on an article of the same name in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, I repeated this about the specification of Hitachi UK Battery Train Specification.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

Does this mean that the train can do 55-65 miles cruising at 90-100 mph?

How Much Energy Is Needed To Accelerate A Five-Car Class 800 Train To Operating Speed?

I will do my standard calculation.

  • Empty train weight – 243 tonnes (Wikipedia for Class 800 train!)
  • Passenger weight – 302 x 90 Kg (Includes baggage, bikes and buggies!)
  • Train weight – 270.18 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the kinetic energy at various speeds are.

  • 60 mph – 27 kWh
  • 80 mph – 48 kWh
  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh
  • 125 mph – 117 kWh – Normal cruise on electrified lines.
  • 140 mph – 147 kWh – Maximum cruise on electrified lines.

Because the kinetic energy of a train is only proportional to the weight of the train, but proportional to the square of the speed, note how the energy of the train increases markedly after 100 mph.

Are these kinetic energy figures a reason, why Hitachi have stated their battery train will have an operating speed of between 90 and 100 mph?

A 100 mph cruise would also be very convenient for a lot of main lines, that don’t have electrification in the UK.

What Battery Size Would Be Needed?

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.

For comparison, an InterCity 125 train, had a figure of 2.83 kWh per vehicle-mile.

Hitachi are redesigning the nose of the train for the new Class 804 train and I suspect that these trains can achieve somewhere between 1.5 and 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, if they are cruising at 100 mph.

Doing the calculation for various consumption levels gives the following battery capacity for a five-car train to cruise 65 miles at 100 mph

  • 1.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 487 kWh
  • 2 kWh per vehicle-mile – 650 kWh
  • 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 812.5 kWh
  • 3 kWh per vehicle-mile – 975 kWh

These figures don’t include any energy for acceleration to line speed from the previous stop or station, but they would cope with a deceleration and subsequent acceleration, after say a delay caused by a slow train or other operational delay, by using regenerative braking to the battery.

The energy needed to accelerate to operating speed, will be as I calculated earlier.

  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh

As the battery must have space to store the regenerative braking energy and it would probably be prudent to have a ten percent range reserve, I can see a battery size for a train with an energy consumption of 2 kWh per vehicle-mile, that needed to cruise at 100 mph being calculated as follows.

  • Energy for the cruise – 650 kWh
  • 10% reserve for cruise – 65 kWh
  • Braking energy from 100 mph – 75 kWh

This gives a total battery size of 790 kWh, which could mean that 800 kWh would be convenient.

Note that each of the three MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 800 train, each weigh around two tonnes.

In Innolith Claims It’s On Path To 1,000 Wh/kg Battery Energy Density, I came to these conclusions.

  • Tesla already has an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg.
  • Tesla will increase this figure.
  • By 2025, the energy density of lithium-ion batteries will be much closer to 1 KWh/Kg.
  • Innolith might achieve this figure. But they are only one of several companies aiming to meet this magic figure.

Suppose two of the MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines were each to be replaced by a two tonne battery, using Tesla’s current energy density, this would mean the following.

  • Each battery would have a capacity of 500 kWh.
  • The train would have one MWh of installed battery power.
  • This is more than my rough estimate of power required for a 65 mile trip.
  • The train would have little or no weight increase.
  • I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that the exchange of a diesel engine for a battery was Plug-and-Play.

Hitachi would have an electric/battery/diesel tri-mode train capable of the following.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Out and Back Range – about 20-30 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Emergency diesel engine.

I feel it would be a very useful train.

Trains That Could Be Fitted With Batteries

The original article in Rail Magazine says this.

For the battery project, positive discussions are taking place with a number of interested parties for a trial, with both Class 385s and Class 800s being candidates for conversion.

So this means that the following operators will be able to use Hitachi’s battery technology o their trains.

  • Avanti West Coast – Class 80x trains
  • First East Coast Trains – Class 80x trains
  • East Midlands Railway – Class 80x trains
  • GWR – Class 80x trains
  • Hull Trains – Class 80x trains
  • LNER – Class 80x trains
  • ScotRail – Class 385 trains
  • TransPennine Express – Class 80x trains

Although, I based my calculations on Class 80x trains, I suspect that the methods can be applied to the smaller Class 385 trains.

Possible Out-And-Back Journeys

These are possible Out-And-Back journeys, that I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle.

  • Edinburgh and Tweedbank – 30 miles from Newcraighall
  • London Paddington and Bedwyn – 30 miles from Reading
  • London Euston and Blackburn – 12 miles from Preston
  • London Kings Cross and Bradford – < 27 miles from Leeds
  • London Euston and Chester – 21 miles from Crewe
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate – <18 miles from Leeds
  • London Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles from Leeds
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester – 16 miles from Market Harborough
  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln – 17 miles from Newark
  • London St. Pancras and Melton Mowbray – 26 miles from Corby
  • London Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 20 miles from Northallerton
  • London Kings Cross and Nottingham – 20 miles from Newark
  • London Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles from Didcot
  • London Kings Cross and Redcar – 29 miles from Northallerton
  • London Kings Cross and Rotherham- 14 miles from Doncaster
  • London Kings Cross and Sheffield – 20 miles from Doncaster
  • London and Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles from Bristol

Note.

  1. Provided that the Out-And-Back journey is less than about sixty miles, I would hope that these stations are comfortably in range.
  2. Leicester is the interesting destination, which would be reachable in an Out-And-Back journey. But trains from the North stopping at Leicester would probably need to charge at Leicester.
  3. I have included Blackburn as it could be a destination for Avanti West Coast.
  4. I have included Melton Mowbray as it could be a destination for East Midlands Railway.
  5. I have included Nottingham, Rotherham and Sheffield as they could be destinations for LNER. These services could prove useful if the Midland Main Line needed to be closed for construction works.
  6. I’m also fairly certain, that no new electrification would be needed, although every extra mile would help.
  7. No charging stations would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Possible Journeys Between Two Electrified Lines

These are possible journeys between two electrified lines, that  I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle.

  • London St. Pancras and Eastbourne via Hastings – 25 miles between Ashford and Ore.
  • Leeds and York via Garforth – 20 miles between Neville Hall and Colton Junction
  • London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge – 54 miles between Ely and Norwich.
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds via Huddersfield – 43 miles between Manchester Victoria and Leeds.
  • Preston and Leeds via Hebden Bridge – 62 miles between Preston and Leeds.
  • Newcastle and Edinburgh – Would battery-electric trains get round the well-publicised power supply problems on this route?

Note.

  1. I am assuming that a range of 65 miles is possible.
  2. If the trains have a diesel-generator set, then this could be used to partially-charge the battery in places on the journey.
  3. Leeds and York via Garforth has been scheduled for electrification for years.
  4. Preston and Leeds via Hebden Bridge would probably need some diesel assistance.
  5. London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge is a cheeky one, that Greater Anglia wouldn’t like, unless they ran it.
  6. As before no new electrification or a charging station would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Possible Out-And-Back Journeys With A Charge At The Destination

These are possible Out-And-Back journeys, that I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle, if the batteries were fully charged at the destination.

  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 52 miles from Doncaster.
  • London Paddington and Cheltenham – 42 miles from Swindon
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln – 64 miles from Newark
  • London Euston and Gobowen – 46 miles from Crewe
  • London Euston and Wrexham – 33 miles from Crewe
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – 45 miles from Selby
  • London Kings Cross and Shrewsbury – 30 miles from Wolverhampton
  • London Kings Cross and Sunderland 41 miles from Northallerton
  • London Paddington and Swansea – 46 miles from Cardiff
  • London Paddington and Worcester – 67 miles from Didcot Parkway
  • London St. Pancras and Derby – 46 miles from Market Harborough
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham – 43 miles from Market Harborough

Note.

  1. I am assuming that a range of 65 miles is possible.
  2. If the trains have a diesel-generator set, then this could be used to partially-charge the battery in places on the journey.
  3. I am assuming some form of charging is provided at the destination station.
  4. As before no new electrification would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line could possibly be run between London St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield without the use of diesel.

Consider.

  • The route will be electrified between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough.
  • In connection with High Speed Two, the Midland Main Line and High Seed Two will share an electrified route between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • London St. Pancras and Derby can be run with a charging station at Derby, as Market Harborough and Derby is only 46 miles.
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham can be run with a charging station at Nottingham, as Market Harborough and Nottingham is only 43 miles.
  • The distance between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough is 67 miles.
  • The distance between Sheffield and Leeds is 38 miles.

It looks to me that the range of East Midlands Railway’s new Class 804 trains, will be a few miles short to bridge the gap on batteries, between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough station, but Leeds and Sheffield appears possible, once Sheffield has been electrified.

There are several possible solutions to the Clay Cross North and Market Harborough electrification gap.

  1. Fit higher capacity batteries to the trains.
  2. Extend the electrification for a few miles North of Market Harborough station.
  3. Extend the electrification for a few miles South of Clay Cross North Junction.
  4. Stop at Derby for a few minutes to charge the batteries.

The route between Market Harborough and Leicester appears to have been gauge-cleared for electrification, but will be difficult to electrify close to Leicester station. However, it looks like a few miles can be taken off the electrification gap.

Between Chesterfield and Alfriston, the route appears difficult to electrify with tunnels and passig through a World Heritage Site.

So perhaps options 1 and 2 together will give the trains sufficient range to bridge the electrification gap.

Conclusion On The Midland Main Line

I think that Hitachi, who know their trains well, must have a solution for diesel-free operation of all Midland Main Line services.

It also looks like little extra electrification is needed, other than that currently planned for the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two.

North Wales Coast Line

If you look at distance along the North Wales Coast Line, from the electrification at Crewe, you get these values.

  • Chester – 21 miles
  • Rhyl – 51 miles
  • Colwyn Bay – 61 miles
  • Llandudno Junction – 65 miles
  • Bangor – 80 miles
  • Holyhead – 106 miles

It would appear that Avanti West Coast’s new AT-300 trains, if fitted with batteries could reach Llandudno Junction station, without using diesel.

Electrification Between Crewe And Chester

It seems to me that the sensible thing to do for a start is to electrify the twenty-one miles between Crewe and Chester, which has been given a high priority for this work.

With this electrification, distances from Chester are as follows.

  • Rhyl – 30 miles
  • Colwyn Bay – 40 miles
  • Llandudno Junction – 44 miles
  • Bangor – 59 miles
  • Holyhead – 85 miles

Electrification between Crewe and Chester may also open up possibilities for more electric and battery-electric train services.

But some way will be needed to charge the trains to the West of Chester.

Chagring The Batteries At Llandudno Junction Station

This Google Map shows Llandudno Junction station.

Note.

  1. It is a large station site.
  2. The Conwy Valley Line, which will be run by battery Class 230 trains in the future connects at this station.
  3. The Class 230 train will probably use some of Vivarail’s Fast Charging systems, which use third-rail technology, either at the ends of the branch or in Llandudno Junction station.

The simplest way to charge the London Euston and Holyhead train, would be to build a charging station at Llandudno Junction, which could be based on Vivarail’s Fast Charging technology or a short length of 25 KVAC overhead wire.

But this would add ten minutes to the timetable.

Could 25 KVAC overhead electrification be erected for a certain distance through the station, so that the train has ten minutes in contact with the wires?

Looking at the timetable of a train between London Euston and Holyhead, it arrives at Colwyn Bay station at 1152 and leaves Llandudno Junction station at 1200.

So would it be possible to electrify between the two stations and perhaps a bit further?

This Google Map shows Colwyn Bay Station,

Note how the double-track railway is squeezed between the dual-carriageway of the A55 North Wales Expressway and the sea.

The two routes follow each other close to the sea, as far as Abegele & Pensarn station, where the Expressway moves further from the sea.

Further on, after passing through more caravans than I’ve ever seen, there is Rhyl station.

  • The time between arriving at Rhyl station and leaving Llandudno Junction station is nineteen minutes.
  • The distance between the two stations is fourteen miles.
  • Rhyl and Crewe is fifty-one miles.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles.

It would appear that if the North Wales Coast Line between Rhyl and Llandudno Junction is electrified, that Hitachi’s proposed battery trains can reach Holyhead.

The trains could even changeover between electrification and battery power in Rhyl and Llandudno Junction stations.

I am sure that electrifying this section would not be the most difficult in the world, although the severe weather sometimes encountered, may need some very resilient or innovative engineering.

It may be heretical to say so, but would it be better if this section were to be electrified using proven third-rail technology.

West of Llandudno Junction station, the electrification would be very difficult, as this Google Map of the crossing of the River Conwy shows.

I don’t think anybody would want to see electrification around the famous castle.

Electrification Across Anglesey

Llanfairpwll station marks the divide between the single-track section of the North Wales Coast Line over the Britannia Bridge and the double-track section across Anglesey.

From my virtual helicopter, the route looks as if, it could be fairly easy to electrify, but would it be necessary?

  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles, which is well within battery range.
  • There is surely space at Holyhead station to install some form of fast-charging system.

One problem is that trains seem to turn round in only a few minutes, which may not be enough to charge the trains.

So perhaps some of the twenty-one miles between Llanfairpwll and Holyhead should be electrified.

London Euston And Holyhead Journey Times

Currently, trains take three hours and forty-three minutes to go between London Euston and Holyhead, with these sectional timings.

  • London Euston and Crewe – One hour and thirty-nine minutes.
  • Crewe and Holyhead – Two hours and four minutes.

The big change would come, if the London Euston and Crewe leg, were to be run on High Speed Two, which will take just fifty-five m,inutes.

This should reduce the London Euston and Holyhead time to just under three hours.

Freight On The North Wales Coast Line

Will more freight be seen on the North Wales Coast Line in the future?

The new tri-mode freight locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive, will be able to take advantage of any electrification to charge their batteries, but they would probably be on diesel for much of the route.

Conclusion On The North Wales Coast Line

Short lengths of electrification, will enable Avanti West Coast’s AT-300 trains, after retrofitting with batteries, to run between Crewe and Holyhead, without using any diesel.

I would electrify.

  • Crewe and Chester – 21 miles
  • Rhyl and Llandudno Junction – 14 miles
  • Llanfairpwll and Holyhead – 21 miles

But to run battery-electric trains between London Euston and Holyhead, only Rhyl and Llandudno Junction needs to be electrified.

All gaps in the electrification will be handled on battery power.

A Selection Of Possible Battery-Electric Services

In this section, I’ll look at routes, where battery-electric services would be very appropriate and could easily be run by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains.

London Paddington And Swansea

Many were disappointed when Chris Grayling cancelled the electrification between Cardiff and Swansea.

I went along with what was done, as by the time of the cancellation, I’d already ridden in a battery train and believed in their potential.

The distance between Cardiff and Swansea is 46 miles without electrification.

Swansea has these services to the West.

  • Carmarthen – 32 miles
  • Fishguard – 73 miles
  • Milford Haven  71 miles
  • Pembroke Dock – 73 miles

It looks like, three services could be too long for perhaps a three car battery-electric version of a Hitachi Class 385 train, assuming it has a maximum range of 65 miles.

But these three services all reverse in Carmarthen station.

So perhaps, whilst the driver walks between the cabs, the train can connect automatically to a fast charging system and give the batteries perhaps a four minute top-up.

Vivarail’s Fast Charging system based on third-rail technology would be ideal, as it connects automatically and it can charge a train in only a few minutes.

I would also electrify the branch between Swansea and the South Wales Main Line.

This would form part of a fast-charging system for battery-trains at Swansea, where turnround times can be quite short.

I can see a network of battery-electric services developing around Swansea, that would boost tourism to the area.

Edinburgh And Tweedbank

The Borders Railway is electrified as far as Newcraighall station and the section between there and Tweedbank is thirty miles long.

I think that a four-car battery-electric Class 385 train could work this route.

It may or may not need a top up at Tweedbank.

The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle service from Edinburgh will always be difficult to electrify, as it goes over the Forth Rail Bridge.

  • The Fife Circle is about sixty miles long.
  • Plans exist for a short branch to Leven.
  • The line between Edinburgh and the Forth Rail Bridge is partly electrified.

I believe that battery-electric Class 385 train could work this route.

London Kings Cross and Grimsby/Cleethorpes via Lincoln

The Cleethorpes/Grimsby area is becoming something of a  renewable energy powerhouse and I feel that battery trains to the area, might be a significant and ultimately profitable statement.

LNER recently opened a six trains per day service to Lincoln.

Distances from Newark are as follows.

  • Lincoln – 17 miles
  • Grimsby – 61 miles
  • Cleethorpes – 64 miles

A round trip to Lincoln can probably be achieved on battery alone with a degree of ease, but Cleethorpes and Grimsby would need a recharge at the coast.

Note that to get to the Cleethorpes/Grimsby area, travellers usually need to change at Doncaster.

But LNER are ambitious and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them dip a toe in the Cleethorpes/Grimsby market.

The LNER service would also be complimented by a TransPennine Express service from Manchester Airport via Sheffield and Doncaster, which could in the future be another service run by a Hitachi battery train.

There is also a local service to Barton-on-Humber, which could be up for improvement.

London Waterloo And Exeter

This service needs to go electric, if South Western Railway is going to fully decarbonise.

But third-rail electrification is only installed between Waterloo and Basingstoke.

Could battery-electric trains be used on this nearly two hundred mile route to avoid the need for electrification.

A possible strategy could be.

  • Use existing electrification, as far as Basingstoke – 48 miles
  • Use battery power to Salisbury – 83 miles
  • Trains can take several minutes at Salisbury as they often split and join and change train crew, so the train could be fast-charged.
  • Use battery power to the Tisbury/Gillingham/Yeovil/Crewkerne area, where trains would be charged – 130 miles
  • Use battery power to Exeter- 172 miles

Note.

  1. The miles are the distance from London.
  2. The charging at Salisbury could be based on Vivarail’s Fast-Charging technology.
  3. The charging around Yrovil could be based on perhaps twenty miles of third-rail electrification, that would only be switched on, when a train is present.

I estimate that there could be time savings of up to fifteen minutes on the route.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power

This article on Railnews is a summary of today’s news and has a subtitle of Battery Train Sets British Record.

This is the first sentence.

A battery train from Vivarail has achieved a British first by travelling 64km on battery power alone, and the feat has been repeated many times during tests.

The train was a Vivarail  Class 230 train, that is based on retired London Underground D78 Stock.

The picture shows the prototype battery train, when I rode it in 2018 at the Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

The article also says this.

Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter  is predicting that production versions of the battery trains will be able to run for almost 100km between charges, which will take just 10 minutes.

Battery trains appear to be going places.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 6 Comments

Solar Panel Pilot For Aldershot

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the August 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the two paragraphs.

Solar panels are to be installed on derelict land near Aldershot station as part of an experiment into whether renewable energy can be used to power trains.

A total of 135 discrete solar panels are being installed and are expected to go live in August. The Riding Subnbeams ‘First Light’ demonstrator project is a collaboration between climate change charity 10:10, Community Energy South and Network Rail, alongside a consortium of specialist consultants and university departments.

I wrote about the company and its ideas in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand, which I posted in December 2017.

I won’t repeat myself, but I will say that since I wrote the original article, a compatible development has happened.

In Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains, I wrote about Vivarail’s charging system for battery trains, which uses battery-to-battery power transfer to charge batteries on trains, through standard third-rail technology.

I do feel that the 10:10 and Vivarail ought to be talking, as I feel that between them, they could come up with some good joint ideas.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment