The Anonymous Widower

New Trains Could Be Operating Through Flintshire From May But No Green Light For Two An Hour Service

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Deeside.com.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Transport for Wales (TfW) is aiming to bring a number of its new Class 230 trains into service on the Wrexham – Shotton – Bidston line next month, three years later than first planned.

However a two train per hour service promised by TfW from December 2021 is yet to be approved by the rail regulator due to an ongoing conflict with a freight operator.

The lateness of the new trains is down to the Covids.

This Google Map illustrates the ongoing conflict with the freight operator.

Note.

  1. The Borderlands Line running up the Eastern side of the map.
  2. Buckley station is at the North of the map.
  3. Pennyffordd station is at the South of the map.
  4. The Padeswood cement works is on a siding to the West of the line.

The problem is that when a cement train leaves the works, it blocks the railway line for an hour.

Improvements are obviously needed, if the two operators are to share this line.

The article suggests various ideas including Park-and-Ride facilities.

April 26, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 12 Comments

Battery Train And Fast Charger To Be Tested In London

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

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has signed an agreement to test Vivarail’s Class 230 battery multiple-unit and fast charging technology under real-world conditions on the 4 km non-electrified branch between West Ealing and Greenford in West London.

As an engineer, who started designing control systems for rolling mills in the mid-1960s and went on to get a Degree in Control and Electrical Engineering from Liverpool University, before working for ICI applying computers to a variety of problems, I can’t look at a railway line like the Greenford Branch without wanting to automate it.

I had one amateurish attempt in An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line. I was trying to get four trains per hour (tph) on the branch and I don’t think that is possible, with the Class 230 trains.

Now we know the train we are dealing with, I could plan an automated system, that would drive the train.

  • Each journey on the branch takes around 11-12 minutes.
  • Two tph would take between 44 and 48 minutes shuttling between the two stations in an hour.
  • The article states that recharging takes ten minutes.
  • If the train charged the batteries once per hour, that would leave between two and six minutes for the other three stops.
  • Any freight train using the branch seems to take about six minutes, so they could sneak through, when the shuttle is having a fast charge.
  • I would also use a similar system to that originally used on the Victoria Line. After the driver has closed the doors and ascertained that there were no problems, they would press a button to move the train to the next station and then automatically open the doors.

From this rough calculation to run a two tph service, I suspect that the train needs to be able to go between West Ealing and Greenford stations in ten minutes. Assuming one ten minute Fast Charge per hour, this would give three minutes and twenty seconds to turn the train, at the three terminal station stops.

I certainly feel, that an automatic shuttle would be possible.

February 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vivarail To Unveil 80mph Super-Class 230 At COP26

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

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail intends to show off a new design of battery-powered zero-emission Class 230 unit at next month’s COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

Features of the train include.

  • 80 mph operating speed, as opposed to 60 mph of the mph of the current Class 230 train and 45 mph of the original London Underground D78 Stock.
  • Two driver cars and a trailer car in between.
  • Ten minutes to fully charge the batteries.
  • The two driver cars have three battery packs.

I doubt the designers of the train at Metro-Cammell, envisaged this future development.

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Pop Up Metro Aims To Provide Affordable Passenger Operation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Trains News Wire.

It describes entrepreneur Henry Posner’s Railroad Development Corporation‘s concept of a Pop-Up Metro and how it is being demonstrated in Rockhill, Pennsylvania, where it is being demonstrated at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

Routes suggested in the article include.

Not all these routes are fully electrified.

There is some interesting ideas in the concept.

The female project manager is also quoted as saying

I found that if you just say yes to Henry, something interesting happens!

Little did I think, that these days, I’d see that said in a serious article.

Let’s hope that represents the can-do approach behind the design, but staying within the rules of safety.

 

October 2, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Network Rail And Vivarail Bring The Next-Generation Battery Train To COP26

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Network Rail and Vivarail today announced that Vivarail’s next-generation battery train will be launched at COP26 and will run daily services throughout the international climate change conference.

This zero-emission train uses new batteries, developed by Vivarail, to combine maximum range with the ability to recharge quickly. The result is a train that can travel for up to 80 miles on battery power and recharge in only 10 minutes using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system.

That is an excellent range coupled with a fast turnround time.

How will other companies like CAF, Hitachi and Stadler respond?

If all battery-electric trains can reach this range, I don’t think we’ll need hydrogen for multiple units, but we will probably need it for freight and other locomotives.

 

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 18 Comments

Isle Of Wight Rail Line Set To Reopen After 10-Month Closure

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

It may have been a long time coming, but let’s hope it’s worth it.

I shall certainly going down, when it opens.

It would appear that the reason for the delay is partly down to software problems.

This seems to me an all-to-frequent occurrence these days.

Could this be that first generation programmers like myself, who honed our skills on small machines in the 1960s and 1970s have mostly retired and are not there to pass on expertise?

September 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

Southall Station – 28th August 2021

Southall station is now another station, that is ready for Elizabeth!

I took these pictures this morning.

Note.

  1. It appears all four current platforms will be getting step-free access with lifts.
  2. The leg of the bridge to Platform 1 hasn’t been completed, although the lift tower is in place.
  3. The station signage is bi-lingual; English and Punjabi.
  4. A new modern station building has been added to the North of the original station building, which opened in 1839.
  5. A level walkway runs between  the new station building and the footbridge.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. This image was taken during building of the footbridge.
  2. The new station building and the walkway to the footbridge don’t appear to have been erected at the time of the image.
  3. The Southern pair of lines are the fast lines that go through Platforms 1 and 2.
  4. The Northern pair of lines are the slow lines that go through Platforms 3 and 4, which will be used by Crossrail.
  5. There is a fifth unused platform face, that shares the island and the stairs and future lift with Platform 1.

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines through the station in detail.

Note the single line coming in from the South-East is the freight-only Brentford Branch.

A Passenger Service On The Brentford Branch

It would appear that, when the builders complete the step-free footbridge at Southall station, that there will be a step-free interchange between Crossrail and any future passenger service on the Brentford Branch.

I feel that the Brentford Branch would be ideal for one of Adrian Shooter‘s Pop-Up-Metros, that would use Vivarail‘s Class 230 trains or similar.

In its simplest form a train would just shuttle between Brentford and the unnumbered fifth platform at Southall station.

August 28, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wallingford Station: Historic Railway Canopy Finds New Home

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

A historic canopy over a railway station platform that was in danger of being junked has found a new home.

The structure at Maidenhead in Berkshire had to be taken down because of electrification works needed for the Crossrail scheme.

It was painstakingly relocated to Wallingford Station in Oxfordshire and restored over seven years.

Judging by the comments in the article, it sounds like a job well done!

These paragraphs give the comments of TV historian; Tim Dunn.

TV historian Tim Dunn, who was present at the unveiling, called the canopy “one of a kind”.

“The fact that it’s been brought up bit by bit and rebuilt finally gives this railway a portal to the rest of the town,” he added.

“This is a brand new entrance to Wallingford.”

Does Tim Dunn imply anything more by the final statement?

Is There A Possibility Of The Restoration Of A Passenger Service Between Cholsey And Wallingford?

Consider these factors.

Great Western Railway Seem To Have a Policy Of Developing Their Branch Lines

In GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line, I said this.

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

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has invited expressions of interest in trialling a battery powered train on the 4 km non-electrified branch line from West Ealing to Greenford in west London.

The article says that Vivarail have made a previous proposal, but other companies are also likely to declare their interest.

Later in the related article, Mark Hopwood, who is Managing Director of Great Western Railway, indicated that they were looking for a modern zero-carbon solution for all of the branch lines, which they doubt would ever be electrified.

If GWR had a fleet of battery trains, then they could probably handle the two-and-a-half miles of the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway, provided the traffic was there, to make the service worthwhile.

Wallingford

Wallingford is a town of nearly twelve thousand inhabitants and many smaller towns and villages in England, have a regular rail service.

Cholsey Station

Cholsey station has two trains per hour (tph) between Paddington and Didcot Parkway stations, with extra services between Oxford and Reading stations in the Peaks.

This Google Map shows Cholsey station.

Note.

  1. Four through platforms for Great Western Railway services.
  2. Platforms 1 and 2 for the fast services are on the Western side.
  3. Platforms 3 and 4 for the slow services are on the Eastern side.
  4. Bay Platform 5 is tucked in the North-East corner of the station and is the terminus for services on the Cholsey And Wallingford Railway.
  5. There are only 55 parking spaces.

Is the number of parking spaces sufficient for the station, if a lot of passengers drive from Wallingford?

Could Battery-Electric Trains Handle The Service Between Cholsey And Wallingford?

As GWR has decided to look for battery-electric trains for their branch lines and this is only a five mile round trip, I think we can assume, that the battery-electric trains of the type, that Great Western Railway chooses, will be able to work this branch.

Intriguingly, the Greenford Branch Line is also 2.5 miles long and a round trip takes under thirty minutes, although the service is only hourly.

I feel that a well-driven single battery-electric train can provide two tph on the branch.

Charging would probably be needed at only one end of the branch line.

As all the through lines at Cholsey station are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires, I suspect that charging would be provided at that station.

Conclusion

I think it would be possible to provide a two tph service on the Cholsey and Wallingford branch line, using a battery-electric train.

July 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line

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

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has invited expressions of interest in trialling a battery powered train on the 4 km non-electrified branch line from West Ealing to Greenford in west London.

The article says that Vivarail have made a previous proposal, but other companies are also likely to declare their interest.

I feel some unexpected proposals could turn up.

The reason would be commercial,.

This is the last paragraph of the article, which says this.

The challenge on Great Western is we’ve got branches like Greenford, Windsor, Marlow and Henley along the Thames valley, and then in the West Country we’ve got St Ives, Falmouth, Newquay, Looe, Gunnislake and so on’, said Hopwood. ‘If we don’t electrify those could we fit the trains with a battery?’ The ideal solution may be a train that fast charges either at one end of the route or possibly at both ends, or on a route like Marlow, Gunnislake or Looe, where the trains reverse during their journey, could the charge point even be on that part of the branch?’

Note.

  1. Mark Hopwood is now the Managing Director of GWR.
  2. Nine branches are mentioned, so with spare trains and maintenance, it could be a good-sized order.

But this project could be even bigger.

South Western Railway are a sister company of Great Western Railway and in August 2020, I wrote Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line about the plans to open the Fawley Line.

This was a section, I wrote about trains that might work the line.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

This is the same Mark Hopwood, who is now Managing Director of GWR.

These pictures show the current status of one of the twenty-four Class 456 train.

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains I discuss this conversion in detail.

Conclusion

Twenty-four battery-electric Class 456 trains would probably go a long way to satisfy GWR’s needs.

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vivarail At COP26

This press release from Network Rail is entitled Network Rail And Porterbrook To Showcase Britain’s Green Trains Of The Future At COP26.

These two paragraphs are from the end of the first section of the press release.

It is envisaged that the HydroFLEX may also be used to transport visitors to see the Zero Emission Train, Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train.

Network Rail is also in the earlier stages of planning a similar event with Vivarail to bring an operational battery train to COP26.

Vivarail have taken battery trains to Scotland before for demonstration, as I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

Will other train companies be joining the party?

Alstom

It looks like Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Class 600 train will not be ready for COP26.

But I suspect that the French would not like to be upstaged by a rolling stock leasing company and a university on the one hand and a company with scrapyard-ready redundant London Underground trains on the other.

I think, they could still turn up with something different.

They could drag one of their Coradia iLint trains through the Channel Tunnel and even run it to Scotland under hydrogen power, to demonstrate the range of a hydrogen-powered train.

Alstom have recently acquired Bombardier’s train interests in the UK and there have been rumours of a fleet of battery-electric Electrostars, even since the demonstrator ran successfully in 2015. Will the prototype turn up at COP26?

Alstom’s UK train factory is in Widnes and I’ve worked with Liverpudlians and Merseysiders on urgent projects and I wouldn’t rule out the Class 600 train making an appearance.

CAF

Spanish train company; CAF, have impressed me with the speed, they have setup their factory in Newport and have delivered a total of well over a hundred Class 195 and Class 331 trains to Northern.

I wrote Northern’s Battery Plans, in February 2020, which talked about adding a fourth-car to three-car Class 331 trains, to create a battery-electric Class 331 train.

Will the Spanish bring their first battery-electric Class 331 train to Glasgow?

I think, they just might!

After all, is there a better place for a train manufacturer looking to sell zero-carbon trains around the world to announce, their latest product?

Hitachi

A lot of what I have said for Alstom and CAF, could be said for Hitachi.

Hitachi have announced plans for two battery-electric trains; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

I doubt that either of these trains could be ready for COP26.

But last week, I saw the new Hitachi Class 803 train speeding through Oakleigh Park station.

This is not a battery-electric train, where battery power can be used for traction, but according to Wikipedia and other sources, it is certainly an electric train fitted with batteries to provide hotel power for the train, when the overhead electrification fails.

Are these Class 803 trains already fitted with their batteries? And if they are, have they been tested?

And who is building the batteries for the Class 803 trains?

The traction batteries for Hitachi’s two battery-electric trains are to be produced by Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland, which is not far from Hitachi’s train factory at Newton Aycliffe.

As an engineer, I would suspect that a well-respected company like Hyperdrive Innovation, can design a battery-pack that plugs in to Hitachi’s trains, as a diesel engine would. I would also suspect that a good design, would allow an appropriate size of battery for the application and route.

I feel it is very likely, that all batteries for Hitachi’s UK trains will be designed and build by Hyperdrive Innovation.

If that is the case and the Class 803 trains are fitted with batteries, then Hitachi can be testing the battery systems.

This document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme, gives a very comprehensive description of the electrical and computer systems of the Hitachi trains.

As an engineer and a computer programmer, I believe that if Hyperdrive Innovation get their battery design right and after a full test program, that Hitachi could be able to run battery-electric trains based on the various Class 80x trains.

It could be a more difficult task to fit batteries to Scotland’s Class 385 trains, as they are not fitted with diesel engines in any application. Although, the fitting of diesel engines may be possible in the global specification for the train.

It is likely that these trains could form the basis of the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic.

Note.

  1. The Class 385 and Regional Battery trains are both 100 mph trains.
  2. Class 385 and Class 80x trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  3. Regional Battery trains could handle a lot of unelectrified routes in Scotland.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi bring a battery-equipped train to COP26, if the Class 803 trains have a successful introduction into service.

Siemens

Siemens have no orders to build new trains for the national rail network in the UK.

But there are plans by Porterbrook and possibly other rolling stock leasing companies and train operators to convert some redundant Siemens-built trains, like Class 350 trains, into battery-electric trains.

According to Wikipedia, Siemens upgraded East Midlands Railways, Class 360 trains to 110 mph operation, at their Kings Heath Depot in Northampton.

Could Siemens be updating one of the Class 350 trains, that are serviced at that depot, to a prototype battery-electric Class 350 train?

Stadler

Stadler have a proven design for diesel-electric, battery-electric and hydrogen trains, that they sell all over the world.

In the UK, the only ones in service are Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which are diesel-electric bi-mode trains.

The picture shows one of these trains at Ipswich.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Diesel, battery or hydrogen modules can be inserted in the short PowerPack car in the middle of the train.
  • Diesel-battery-electric versions of these trains have been sold for operation in Wales.
  • The interiors of these trains are designed for both short journeys and a two-hour run.

There is a possibility, that these trains will be upgraded with batteries. See Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’.

Conclusion

Times will be interesting in Glasgow at COP26!

 

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments