The Anonymous Widower

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

The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification

In Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains, I talked about how Vivarail are proposing to fast-charge their Class 230 trains.

  • The trains are fitted with special high-capacity third rail shoes.
  • Third-rail electrification is laid in stations.
  • The third rail is powered by a bank of bstteries, that are trickle-charged from the mains or perhaps even solar power.
  • When the train connects to the rail, the rail is made live and a fast transfer takes place between third-rail and train.

So how much electricity could be passed to a train during a stop?

The most powerful locomotive in the UK, that can use 750 VDC third-rail electrification is a Class 92 locomotive.

According to Wikipedia, it can produce a power output of 4 MW or 4,000 kW, when working on third-rail electrification.

This means, that in an hour, four thousand kWh will be transferred to the train using conventional third-rail electrification.

Or in a minute 66.7 kWh can be transferred.

In Vivarail’s system, because they are transferring energy between batteries, enormous currents can be passed.

To illustrate how batteries can can deliver enormous currents here’s a video of  a guy using two car batteries to weld things together.

These currents are possible because batteries have a low impedance and when the battery on the train is connected to the battery bank on the station, the two batteries will equalise their power.

If we take the example of the Class 92 locomotive and conventional electrification, this would be able to transfer 200 kWh in three minutes or 400 kWh in six minutes.

But I believe that battery-to-battery transfers could be at a much higher current

Thus in a typical one or two minute stop in a station, upwards of 200 kWh could be transferrred to the train..

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 6 Comments

Vivarail Wins Environment Award For Class 230 Train

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Vivarail has announced that they have won the Environment award for their Class 230 battery train and fast charge system.

The awards are one of the industry’s top events.

The article also says this about the Class 230 trains.

  • 60 miles range between charges
  • 10 minute recharge time
  • And can be fitted with range extenders (such as pantograph, genset or fuel cells)

Trains are getting more like houses.

After one useful life, someone comes along and gives them trains a makeover and they have a second useful life.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Units Take Over Marston Vale Services

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

The article contains an informative video of Adrian Shorter talking about the Class 230 train.

Much of the article and the video is information that has already been well reported.

Adrian Shooter does mention that the diesel-electric-battery versions of the Class 230 train for Transport for Wales will incorporate geo-fencing.

This would mean that in sensitive areas, the diesel engines would be cut out and only  battery power would be used.

The process would be controlled automatically using the train’s position from GPS.

This technique has been used on hybrid buses to lower emissions and noise levels in sensitive areas.

 

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail And Arcola Announce Partnership To Bring Emission-Free Trains To The UK

The title of this post is the same as this press release from Vivarail.

These are the first two paragraphs

Vivarail, designers and manufacturers of the Class 230 trains, and hydrogen fuel cell specialists Arcola Energy today announced a long-term collaboration.

The companies share a determination to help de-carbonise the UK’s transport system. Vivarail has already designed and run an emission-free battery train whilst Arcola lead the market in supplying power systems for efficient fuel cell electric vehicles, primarily buses, to the UK. Working together the companies will develop a hydrogen/battery hybrid train.

It strikes me that this could be a good fit.

Powering A Bus

In New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I described Arcola Energy’s involvement in a project to create and fuel hydrogen-powered buses in conjunction with Alexander Dennis.

  • A typical hybrid double-decker bus like a New Routemaster has a battery capacity of 55 kWh.
  • If these Liverpool hydrogen-powered double-decker buses have serial hybrid transmission like the New Routemaster, I could envisage them having a battery of up to 100 kWh, as let’s face it, the New Routemaster design is now eight years old and battery technology has moved on.

So the Arcola Energy-sourced fuel cell must be able to continuously top-up, the battery, in the same manner as the diesel engine on a hybrid bus.

Sit in the back of a New Routemaster and you can hear the engine cutting in and out. It doesn’t seem to work very hard, even on routes like the 73, which operate at high loadings.

Powering A Class 230 Train

Vivarail’s battery-powered Class 230 train, has a battery capacity of  106 kWh.

This size of battery could certainly be changed by a hydrogen fuel cell.

But could a hydrogen fuel cell provide enough power to keep the train running?

  • Vivarail are clamming a range of fifty miles, which means that their two-car battery trains are consuming around 2 kWh for every mile.
  • I will assume the train is travelling at its operating speed of sixty mph, which is a mile every minute.
  • To keep the battery topped up would need 2 kWh to be produced every minute.

A hydrogen fuel cell with a rating of 120 kW would be needed to power the train continuously. But as the fuel cell would only be topping up the battery, I suspect that a smaller fuel cell would be sufficient.

The Ballard fuel cell is a HD variant of their  FCveloCity family.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of an HD fuel cell of their  FCveloCity family.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the train.

This Ballard fuel cell would appear to be capable of mounting under the floor of a train.

There are probably several other fuel cells that will fit the Class 230 train.

Arcola should know the best hydrogen fuel cell for the application, in terms of size, power and cost.

The Concept Train

Vivarail’s press release describes a concept train.

The concept train will be used to demonstrate the system capability and test performance. Vivarail’s production hydrogen trains will consist of 4-cars, with 2 battery driving motor cars and 2 intermediate cars housing the fuel cell and tanks.

Vivarail seem very certain of the formation of production trains.

I am not surprised at this certaincy.

  • The mathematics of battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trains is well known.
  • Vivarail have experience  of running their battery-powered prototype.
  • Arcola have experience of the capabilities of hydrogen-power.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some  commonality between the Alexander Dennis and Vivarail installations.

Range Of A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

Nothing is said in Vivarail’s press release about the range on hydrogen.

In Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead, I examined Alstom’s Class 321 Breeze hydrogen train, based on an article in The Times.

I said this about range.

The Times gives the range of the train as in excess of 625 miles

The Class 321 Breeze looks to be designed for longer routes than the Class 230 train.

I would suspect that a hydrogen-powered Class 230 train would have the range to do a typical day’s work without refuelling.

Refuelling A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

I don’t think this will be a problem as Arcola appear to have the expertise to provide a complete solution.

Conclusion

This is a co-operation, where both parties are bringing strengths to the venture.

 

May 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train

When I heard that London North Western Railway were running a new Class 230 train between Bedford and Bletchley, I just had to go.

These are my thoughts.

Comparison With D78 Stock

I regularly used the D78 Stock from their introduction in 1980 until their retirement in 2017. In Raw Material For A New Train, I showed a few pictures of one of the last D78 Stock trains to be in service.

The picture with the orange doors shows a Class 378 train, at the same platform as the D78 train for comparison.

The trains have certainly undergone changes with new wndows and a new interior, but some components like the  longitudinal seats, appear to have just been refurbished.

But the Class 230 train has retained the well-lit feel of the D78 Stock.

An Interior For All Passengers

Passengers come in many different types and the interior has been well-designed to cope all types of passengers who might use the train.

As it also takes clues from other trains, that work on high-capacity routes, I feel it would cope well if on perhaps a weekend, there was some form of event or festival.

Longitudinal Seating

Vivarail have retained some of the old London Underground longitudinal seating, which must be unique in the UK outside the London Underground/Overground and the Glasgow Subway.

But it does seem to fit in more seats.

Seat Comfort

To me, seat comfort is all important, as I have a posterior that objects to certain seats, like those on Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

But these seats were fine, despite the fact they looked like the dreaded Thameslink seats. But then perhaps the padding is different!

Tables

LNWR have chosen to fit several tables in these trains, which were big enough to lay out a tabloid-sized newspaper.

Wi-Fi, Power And USB Points

Wi-fi is fitted to this train and there were numerous power and USB points. The latter were in the armrests of the longitudinal seats, which in my view, is the obvious, if not essential place. Other train manufacturers please note!

An Unfussy, Surprisingly Quiet And Workmanlike Ride

Passengers don’t generally rave about the quality of the ride in Underground trains and I would generally describe the ride of the average Underground train as workmanlike.

But then I’ve been riding Underground trains for at least sixty-five years and a modern S7 Stock train, is so much better than the 1938 Stock trains I can remember.

The ride of the Class 230 train is unfussy, surprisingly quiet and it still has that workmanlike quality of forty-year-old Underground trains.

Without doubt though, the ride and especially the noise is much better than the Alstom Coradia iLint, that I wrote about in My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint.

Engine Noise

The two diesel engines beneath our feet, were not any more noticeable, than the engine on one of London’s Routemaster buses.

I would expect that High quality noise suppression techniques have been used.

An Air Of Quality

The finish of the train appeared to have a good quality

Operating Speed

Using the |SpeedView app on my phone, the train seemed to trundle on happily at around 45-50 mph.

Passenger Reaction

The passengers seemed to be fairly pleased with their new train, and several said it was better than the single car Class 153 train.

A Senior Manager from LNWR, also seemed pleased with his new train.

Conclusion

It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

More About Steamology Motion

In Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators, I talked about a company called Steamology, who were given a grant by the Department for Transport to develop a method of converting hydrogen into energy.

The company is called Steamology Motion and in Issue 872 of Rail Magazine more details are given in an article, which is entitled DFT Hands Out £350,000 Each To Five Rail Green Schemes.

This is said in the article.

Steamology Motion, the final recipient, aims to create a new zero-emmissions power train for a Vivarail Class 230 train. The W2W system generates steam from compressed hydrogen and oxygen stored in tanks. The steam then drives a turbine to generate electricity.

The concept is aimed at being a ‘range extender’ able to charge onboard battery packs.

My mathematical modelling skills for this type of system have never been strong, but I’m sure that others will know how much hydrogen and oxygen are needed to charge a 200 kWh battery.

  • A quick search of the Internet reveals that small steam turbines could be available
  • I very much suspect, that as the system is a ‘range extender’, rather than a power unit to take the train hundreds of miles, that the physical size of the gas tanks will be smaller than those proposed by Alston for their hydrogen conversion of a Class 321 train.

I also don’t think that the DfT would have given £350,000 to the company, if the the physics and the mathematics weren’t credible.

Conclusion

If this technology is successful, I suspect it could have other applications.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Spearheads Development Of Green Fuel Technologies

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

The press release describes and shows visuals of their new hydrogen-powered Class 230 train.

These are a few points from the press release.

A Four-Car Train

This is said about the basic philosophy of the design.

Vivarail’s on-going success in launching new technologies to the UK market means it is the only train manufacturer with a fully approved base train to work from. The hydrogen train will follow the design of the Transport for Wales fleet with two driving motor cars powered by Hoppecke batteries, the only difference being that instead of a diesel genset beneath the intermediate car the hydrogen train will have two carriages housing the fuel cells and hydrogen tanks.

Building on an approved base train must be the way to go.

Underfloor Power

This is said about the position of the hydrogen tanks and the fuel cells.

Unlike other trains the Vivarail Class 230s will store all the equipment beneath the floor making a much more stream-lined and efficient vehicle able to carry more passengers and deliver faster journey times.

I would suspect that Vivarail have designed tanks and fuel cells, that take up less space.

Modular Design

The design appears to be modular from this extract.

Vivarail’s standard modular power pack designs allow easy transition from one power source to another – in this case simply adapting a genset to a fuel cell.  Both sit in the same space envelope beneath the train and indeed a train built as a diesel unit could be converted to run with hydrogen if required.

Would you design it, any other way?

Range Of 650 Miles

This is a thousand kilometres and seems to be the design range of most hydrogen trains.

Class-Leading Acceleration

It is a good idea to look at the ratio of weight to length of a basic trains, that will be converted to hydrogen power.

The difference is probably because the D78 Stock is  built from aluminium.

Keeping the weight down is a good way to increase the rate of acceleration.

Regenerative Braking

Why would you design a train without it?

Conclusion

The only supplier mentioned in the press release is Hoppecke, who will be making the batteries.

It looks to me that Vivarail have looked at every component for a hydrogen train and chosen the best ones with respect to performance, size and weight.

I shall be looking forward to taking a ride!

 

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Vivarail And Hoppecke Announce Long-term Supply Of Batteries For Class 230s

The title of this post is the same as that of a press release from Vivarail.

Some extracts.

A 3-car Class 230 can run for 65 miles between charges which means they are more than able to operate numerous routes throughout the UK, and active conversations are taking place with interested operators. Battery trains enable emission-free rail travel in areas where electrification is either non- or only partially existent. The trains are particularly suited to urban routes where authorities wish to eliminate pollution caused by traditional DMUs as well as scenic lines where the natural environment needs protecting.

A Sixty-five mile range is very respectable and a good start.

Currently Vivarail is building a fleet of diesel/battery hybrids to operate the Wrexham-Bidston line for Transport for Wales, where the diesel gensets will be used to charge the batteries not to power the train. This power variant gives the range of a diesel train, the performance of an EMU (with acceleration of 1m p/s/s up to 40 miles per hour) and combines it with emission-free travel. As well as using the genset to charge the batteries the train also has regenerative braking – as do all the battery trains.

The acceleration is up there with a Class 345 train.

Hoppecke’s Lithium Ion batteries are ideally suited for the Class 230s by providing the rapid charging needed for battery trains. Simulations and performance data show that many non-electrified routes can be operated by the Class 230 battery trains and to make this possible in the short-term Vivarail has designed and patented an automatic charging system and battery bank. This means that costs of both infrastructure upgrades and daily operation are hugely minimised – in some cases by millions of pounds.

The batteries will probably be fairly traditional, but reading about Hoppecke on the web, they seem to be a company that believes in service. They also seem to supply back-up power supplies for critical infrastructure like telecommunications and computing.

Note too, that Vivarail have patented their charging system.

Designs for other types of hybrid trains exist including the use of existing OHL with a pantograph and transformer and 3rd rail with shoegear. Additionally, a new hydrogen variant is being developed which, similarly to the diesel hybrid, will exceed the pure battery train’s range of 65 miles.

Other power sources could be added, when they are invented.

A Serial Hybrid Train

The Class 230 trains for Wales are actually serial hybrids, just like one of London’s Routemaster buses. As the Press Release says, the generator set charges the batteries and these drive the train.

In the Press Release the following methods are mentioned for charging the batteries.

  • Diesel generators on the train.
  • Static charging systems at stations.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • 25 KVAC overhead line electrification.
  • 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Vivarail have split the control systems into two-more or-less independent systems; one keeps the batteries charged up in an optimal manner and the other links the batteries to the train’s systems and traction motors.

I also suspect that Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph Aventra With Batteries is a serial hybrid.

Conclusion

Is there anything recycled London Underground trains can’t do?

I have read somewhere, that Vivarail have talked about on-board self-service coffee machines!

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 8 Comments

Should Railways Have A Pop-Up Service Capability?

Most of us will be familiar with the concept of Pop-Up Retail.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK, Australia and Ireland) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces that started in Los Angeles and now pop up all over the United States, Canada, China,Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. The pop-up industry is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry. Pop-up retail has been an increasing factor during the retail apocalypse of the 2010s, including seasonal Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween, who has operated stores in vacant spaces during the season.
Chris Stokes in his column in the December 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, gives a summary of and praises Adrian Shooter’s Vivarail project and its Class 230 train.
He then says.
Two of the units are scheduled for export to the United States, to demonstrate for the potential for ‘pop-up’ commuter services; the cost of a one-year period are said to be equivalent to the consultancy costs for opening a new route. Should such an approach be considered in this country too? The gestation period for new services on freight-only routes is probably the best part of 10 years, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
So is Chris’s concept a viable proposition?
Examples In The UK
Chris then goes on to give an example of a successful pop-up station.
When floods swept away the road bridge at Workington in 2009; Network Rail and Northern constructed a pop-up station and introduced additional trains in less than two weeks.
Recently, Liverpool Lime Street station was partly-closed for rebuilding, so Network Rail extended Platform 4 at Liverpool South Parkway station, so that it could be used as a terminus for trains from London and the South.
The picture shows a Virgin Pendelino in the temporary platform.
Passengers could then transfer to Merseyrail to complete their journey to Liverpool City Centre.
Incidentally, I’d like to know how many passengers to and from Liverpool, found it more convenient to catch their London train from Liverpool South Parkway station. Perhaps, after Merseyrail has its new trains, many passengers would like to use Liverpool South Parkway for longer journeys?
Does anybody know of any other instances of pop-up stations like these in the UK?
What Is Needed To Create These Pop-Up Stations?
Various elements must be brought together to build a pop-up station.
Types Of Stations

I can envisage three types of simple stations.

  1. A one-platform station on a single-track line.
  2. A two-platform station on a double-track line.
  3. A one-platform station on a double-track line.

Note

  1. Type One, would be the simplest and would be worked bidirectionally.
  2. Type Two, would probably require a bridge across the tracks.
  3. Type Three, would need crossovers at both ends of the station, to allow the single platform to be worked bidirectionally.

Obviously, Type 1 would be the most affordable and probably easiest to install.

The Platforms
This picture shows the temporary extended platform at Liverpool South Parkway station.
Only, if you look to the left, do you realise, it is not a permanent structure.
The only problem was that at 150 metres in length, it was a long walk. But most pop-up stations would not be for eleven-coach Class 390 trains.
Scaffolding and prefabricated platforms, should be able to cope with most situations.
Station Buildings
The platform extension at Liverpool South Parkway station didn’t need any buildings, as it was added to an existing station.
But surely, Portakabin and their ilk can come up with something that would work for a couple of years, with perhaps a waiting room or shelter, a ticket machine and even toilets.
A Station Bridge
A proportion of two-platform stations will need a bridge, so that passengers can get from one platform to the other.
At the present time, where a temporary bridge is needed, Network Rail generally put up vast scaffolding structures, like this one at Forest Gate station, used during station reconstruction for Crossrail.
Passenger-friendly it is not!
What is needed is a well-designed temporary footbridge system, that can be lifted in place in sections from a train.
Some footbridge versions might even have lifts and could be installed as pop-up bridges at stations, which urgently need step-free access.
Perhaps, pop-up stations could use a version of Heatherwick Studio’s rolling bridge.
I shall add some pictures of the open bridge, when they fix it.
  • It would certainly bridge the gap between two platforms with a double-track railway in between.
  • In a rail application, the bridge would be interlocked with the signalling and controlled by the signaller.
  • Signals and lights could be added to the bridge  to ensure complete safety.
  • Wikipedia says the original at the Paddington Basin cost £500,000, which could probably be reduced if more were built.
  • This page on the Merchant Square web site, shows the bridge in action.
  • I suspect this bridge would work on single- or double-track lines, without electrification, or with third-rail or with overhead electrification.
  • At many stations it could just be dropped in place from a rail-mounted crane, after preparing the existing platforms.
  • I suspect though, that there would be a limit to the number of trains per hour it could handle.
One of Heatherwick’s bridges, would certainly help in telling the locals, that they have a new station or step-free bridge across the railway.
I wonder if Heatherwick Studio has been talking to Network Rail.
Signalling
The signalling might have to be modified to ensure safety.
When all trains were fitted with in-cab digital signalling, as is planned, then this would surely make pop-up stations and services easier to install.
Tracks
The installation would surely be designed to minimise work on the tracks.
Only the Type Three station would require more than minimal work to the tracks, but the station would only have one platform, which would not require a bridge.
Modern Trains And The Pop-Up Station
Chris Stokes talks about running new pop-up services on freight-only lines, but I believe that there will be calls to use pop-up stations to provide extra stops on existing services.
As an example, suppose that Greater Anglia wanted to assess the demand for a new Soham station. In a year or two, the company will be operating at least an hourly service along the line with their new Class 755 trains.
These trains are part of the new breed of modern trains, which will have the following.
  • The ability to execute a fast stop at a station.
  • Level access will be possible between train and platform.
  • On-board CCTV systems to ensure safe loading and unloading of passengers.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling.

This will enable the trains to make a station stop without causing problems to the existing timetable.

So if Network Rail, had the ability to quickly install a pop-up station, modern trains would allow a service to be tested at a reasonable cost.

The Practicalities Of Installing A Pop-Up Station

Suppose a station were to be installed at Soham or any other suitable place.

I would expect Network Rail to produce standard designs for the foundations of their pop-up stations.

Network Rail periodically close a line to replace track or do various other work. When a line is closed for this work and a pop-up station might be needed on the route, the standard foundations would be installed.

Then, when the budget for the station had been obtained, the station would be installed and commissioned in a suitable possession.

Conclusion

I believe a pop-up station is a feasible proposition.

If a pop-up station is a feasible proposition, then it follows that to install perhaps five stations on a freight-only line to create a totally new passenger service is also a feasible proposition.

 

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment