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All across the Great Western territory => Meet the Manager => Topic started by: Red Squirrel on August 05, 2019, 05:10:04 pm



Title: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: Red Squirrel on August 05, 2019, 05:10:04 pm
We hear so much about the threat from climate change and the concern over emissions. With Transport for Wales soon to introduce hybrid Class 230s, and with a battery version apparently available which can travel 60 miles and recharge in 7 mins, do you think these units would be suitable for the Cornish branch lines? With better acceleration they could result in a more reliable timetable, with more time to turnaround, and they would be emission free. They might also be suitable for the Severn Beach line when it goes half-hourly, given the large number of stops on the route. So is any thought being given to decarbonising our local railways, or is it a case that we have our rolling stock and are stuck with it for the future?


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 05:11:20 pm
Simply, yes. I am not sure that giving our passengers retired old Underground trains from the early 1980s would be the step change they are looking forward to, particularly as they are older than the 150s and 143s.  However, we are working with suppliers to achieve solutions which will mean our trains have less emissions. The Class 769 will be the next visible step on that journey to electric mode on the 41% of the track mileage that is already electrified on the North Downs line.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: broadgage on August 05, 2019, 05:16:19 pm
Glad to hear that carbon emissions are on the agenda.
The age of the rolling stock is not in my view important providing that it is refurbished to a good standard, and meets with expectations regarding reliability, comfort and facilities.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 05:18:46 pm
Noted but you do reach a point where refurbishing older trains doesn’t pass the test with our customers. I am hoping the new government will help us set a strategy to make further progress in this area.

The recent electrification of large chunks of the GWR network has helped us make significant progress in this area.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: SandTEngineer on August 05, 2019, 05:23:39 pm
I know this is a corny old subject, but has GWR ever challenged NR on its inability to cheaply electrify branch lines on the tramway principle (i.e. we don't need EU standards for high speed lines on our branches)?


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 05:29:43 pm
Our sister company Scotrail when it was part of FirstGroup worked on this to electrify the Paisley Canal line in Glasgow.

We have looked at what could be done but the costs are huge and the problem with branch lines is there is little opportunity to deliver journey time improvements.

We remain open to working on this but we would need funding from DfT for such schemes.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 05:35:02 pm
Finally, there is no inability on Network Rail’s account to electrify branch lines but they have to be specified by government and funding provided.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: SandTEngineer on August 05, 2019, 05:36:01 pm
Thank you Mark.  My question was really about GWR challenging NR and the government to look at this in depth, understanding ultimately that the money and direction has to come from government, rather than expecting GWR to deliver it.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: broadgage on August 05, 2019, 05:37:58 pm
For branch lines, IMHO the way forward is battery powered trains, charged either from a shore supply, or from existing electrification infrastructure when running onto an electrified main line.
Battery technology has improved greatly, whereas diesel engines are unlikely to improve much more.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 05:41:15 pm
I agree. The technology needs some development but we are watching with interest.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 05:44:05 pm
We are keen to work with NR to explore the options as well as looking at battery. I don’t expect immediate movement on this but we want to ensure we have options under development.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: broadgage on August 05, 2019, 05:46:03 pm
What is needed in my view is not more research, studies, and consultations, but to obtain a battery powered train and try it out.
Batteries are available right now that give an electric car a 200 mile range. Trains though much heavier than cars also have much more room for batteries, and need less energy per ton due to the reduced friction.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 05:49:57 pm
I’m not sure there is a suitable train ready to trial yet. The experience of Class 230s on Marston Vale has not been a happy one so I only want to put trains into service where we have confidence they will work.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: Celestial on August 05, 2019, 05:58:24 pm
Mark

Thank you for answering my question. I agree that the introduction of the Class 230s has not been as would be desired (though that is often the way with new or "new" stock), so understand your reluctance to consider them currently. I'm not sure I agree that the internal ambience would be inferior - as I understand it the TfW ones will have a much better specification including air conditioning - it's all down to what the customer wants. And the noise reduction would of its own be a major improvement.  Good to hear that you have an open mind to non-diesel options though, and thank you for your time today.   


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 06:01:25 pm
Thank you!


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: broadgage on August 05, 2019, 06:07:03 pm
I’m not sure there is a suitable train ready to trial yet. The experience of Class 230s on Marston Vale has not been a happy one so I only want to put trains into service where we have confidence they will work.

True, but it would be easy to modify an existing EMU by fitting batteries. The rest of the train should remain as standard as possible to minimise the number of things to go wrong.
A single unit should be regarded as a prototype and quantity production only considered if the prototype works as expected.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 05, 2019, 06:09:10 pm
I think the point is lots of things may be possible but they haven’t happened yet and I am not keen to have my services used as a testbed - that should be done when customers won’t be put at risk of service disruption.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: SandTEngineer on August 05, 2019, 06:09:25 pm
Mark, Thank you for responding to our questions.  I'm sure you are just as passionate about it as we are!


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: broadgage on August 05, 2019, 06:18:00 pm
I think the point is lots of things may be possible but they haven’t happened yet and I am not keen to have my services used as a testbed - that should be done when customers won’t be put at risk of service disruption.


Time in my view for the government to procure a battery train and to test it perhaps on the West Somerset Railway, followed by use on a Cornish branch line, in the off season to begin with.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: johnneyw on August 05, 2019, 07:47:43 pm
Perhaps a bit disheartened that Mark dismissed any possibility for the battery/hybrid/any Class 230s in GWR land. I thought they might have a role on the branches, be it The Severn Riviera Express or some of the Devon or Cornwall Lines.  It will be interesting to see how they fare mid to long term elsewhere.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: chuffed on August 05, 2019, 08:12:17 pm
Mark mentioned that he thought the introduction of Vivarail Class 230s on the Marston Vale line had not been a happy experience. Can anyone find any evidence for this ?


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: grahame on August 05, 2019, 08:16:24 pm
I think the point is lots of things may be possible but they haven’t happened yet and I am not keen to have my services used as a testbed - that should be done when customers won’t be put at risk of service disruption.
Time in my view for the government to procure a battery train and to test it perhaps on the West Somerset Railway, followed by use on a Cornish branch line, in the off season to begin with.

Taunton to Minehead ... followed by Bodmin Road Parkway to Bodmin General Town then ... Paignton to Kingswear.  Crediton to Okehampton, then Newton Abbott to Heathfield.  By that time it will no longer be a testbed.

Kidding, but many a true word written in jest.  I have a fresh thread to start on West Somerset .


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: johnneyw on August 06, 2019, 12:18:35 pm
Mark mentioned that he thought the introduction of Vivarail Class 230s on the Marston Vale line had not been a happy experience. Can anyone find any evidence for this ?

That puzzled me too, unless he is talking about the few months delay in the delivery of the sets.
Reviews that I have read were largely positive. Although I've not seen it yet, I've been told that the current issue of Today's Railways has a several page review of the Class 230. From what I was told, the review was again not unfavourable, with the emphasis that it was designed to be suited to it's purpose, although I must repeat, this summary is from another (but trusted) source.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: Fourbee on August 06, 2019, 12:21:43 pm
There does have to be an degree of using the live railway for testing (maybe not as a "testbed"). Look at when the SWR 444s/450s were "unwrapped" with the electrical supply problems which were not experienced at the sandboxed testing facility. That introduction/testing needs to be better managed IMO, even phased with manufacturers/engineers/thunderbirds on standby, perhaps avoiding embarrassing curtain raising events until the rolling stock has matured. It is encouraging to see class 345s at Reading for example and one would hope despite the delays elsewhere in the project, these units will operate more reliably when they are in service throughout as a result.

To that end when/if the 769s come to the North Downs, they should be operated on diesel only for the first 3 months (say). Then a period of night testing switching to third rail operation and back, for example, before doing it in service.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: broadgage on August 06, 2019, 12:48:37 pm
How to introduce a battery powered train.

1) Build a prototype, either completely new construction or by conversion of an existing EMU.
2) Run it on the WSR on non public operating days, encourage volunteers, friends and family to ride thereon and test the doors for reliability under a reasonable simulation of normal working conditions.
3) Run it on the WSR on public running days, in place of the diesel diagram.

If successful then use it on a GWR branch, and order some more like it. Design for simplicity and reliability, minimising the amount of new technology and reliance on computers.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: Celestial on August 06, 2019, 12:51:38 pm
Mark mentioned that he thought the introduction of Vivarail Class 230s on the Marston Vale line had not been a happy experience. Can anyone find any evidence for this ?

That puzzled me too, unless he is talking about the few months delay in the delivery of the sets.
Reviews that I have read were largely positive. Although I've not seen it yet, I've been told that the current issue of Today's Railways has a several page review of the Class 230. From what I was told, the review was again not unfavourable, with the emphasis that it was designed to be suited to it's purpose, although I must repeat, this summary is from another (but trusted) source.


There have been a lot of cancellations and delays.  If you use recenttraintimes for Bedford to Bletchley for the last three months, you can see that the situation becomes a lot worse from mid afternoon, suggesting units are giving up half way through the day.  Though whether this is any worse than for any other new trains is debatable.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: grahame on August 06, 2019, 01:06:38 pm
Mark mentioned that he thought the introduction of Vivarail Class 230s on the Marston Vale line had not been a happy experience. Can anyone find any evidence for this ?
That puzzled me too, unless he is talking about the few months delay in the delivery of the sets.
Reviews that I have read were largely positive ...

Personal review based on a statistically insignificant single journey ... fine and fit for purpose.  Biggest problems at the two ends of the line and nothing to do with the trains;  inadequate ticket sales facilities at Bedford / long queue even for the machines, so I nearly missed it.   Great to have a wheelchair accessible loo - pity the platform it came into at Bletchley only had a staircase and (to a first time station user) to obvious information about where and when my train to Milton Keynes was from until on (and at the far end) of the bridge.   Nope, trains fine for me!



This business of "but it's an old train" is a bit of a red herring to me.  The DfT's competition asking "what should we do with Pacers when they're replaced on their current lines lead me suggest, tongue in cheek, that they might run train services with them ... I would be quite happy to see them provide extra services every couple of hours Yeovil Pen Mill to Swindon, filling in the Heart of Wessex and TransWilts gaps, based at Exeter where they are known and running up in the morning from there via Honiton to enter service.   Two trains, 180 minute round trip, 240 minute cycle time, toilets replaced by luggage and cycle store which would make them compliant on that score (not dumping on the track, no worse for those in wheelchair).

"People demand a better train" you may hear.   Hmm ... let's try that.  Let's see how many people will let the 143 go at 16:30 and wait for the 17:36 because it'll be a 165. I can answer for Melksham ... but of course Yeovil folks may be different.  Bit of a side issue - the 143s would not be decarbonising the railways in this form.  But would they not be a step in the right direction if carrying passengers in bulk who would otherwise be using a whole set of gas guzzling, CO2 generating private cars?  We could then switch to the battery trains or bi-modes once assured of their reliable and none-test status.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: stuving on August 06, 2019, 01:13:45 pm
Everyone seems to have forgotten that NR did a trial of a battery train - the IPEMU, running between Harwich and Manningtree - already. The report of that trial is available from SPARK (https://www.sparkrail.org/_layouts/15/Rssb.Spark/Attachments.ashx?Id=75NEMTS3ZVHP-8-13224)*. It doesn't say anything concrete about "next steps", and after nearly three years it's reasonable to ask "well? what's (not) been going on since then?".

* Registration with SPARK (free) required


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 06, 2019, 02:03:10 pm
Mark mentioned that he thought the introduction of Vivarail Class 230s on the Marston Vale line had not been a happy experience. Can anyone find any evidence for this ?


Is this suitable evidence?


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: johnneyw on August 06, 2019, 02:40:45 pm
Mark mentioned that he thought the introduction of Vivarail Class 230s on the Marston Vale line had not been a happy experience. Can anyone find any evidence for this ?


Is this suitable evidence?



I've also had first hand experience of the very protracted grim time that was had by passengers on the Severn Beach Line that followed the introduction of the Turbos with the regular and frequent delays, cancellations and early turn backs. It may be that Class 230s are not seen as the future for GWR but they ain't been the only ones with introduction problems on new services.


Edit to clarify:  I am aware that the Turbo cascade was a DfT decision and was not the result of a choice made by GWR. The point is that teething troubles for any rolling stock on a new service is not unusual and Class 230s seem to be no exception.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: chuffed on August 06, 2019, 03:03:16 pm
Thank you Mark for providing that link. Much appreciated.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 06, 2019, 04:58:38 pm
The Severn Beach issues were also caused by crew, infrastructure and some other issues as well as fleet. Fundamentally the Turbo was the same train that had worked reliably in the Thames Valley.

The Class 230 has Ford Transit engines underneath that are failing in a terminal manner.

The scenarios are quite different.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: IndustryInsider on August 06, 2019, 05:20:51 pm
I think the point is lots of things may be possible but they haven’t happened yet and I am not keen to have my services used as a testbed - that should be done when customers won’t be put at risk of service disruption.

Let's hope the 769s don't prove to have reliability and performance issues if and when they come out of their very prolonged testing period.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: broadgage on August 06, 2019, 06:18:33 pm
A battery powered train SHOULD be more reliable than a diesel powered one.
Batteries are inherently modular and means are readily available to automatically bypass a failed battery, allowing the train to proceed with almost unaltered performance.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are the most likely technology, these are no longer new or exotic or untried technology, and are safer than lithium polymer batteries.

A 12 volt 100 AH lithium iron phosphate battery costs about £500 retail, less than half that much in bulk.
1,000 such batteries would cost in the region of £250,000 and would store over 1,000 Kwh of energy.
The total weight of these batteries is about 12 Kg each, or about 12 tons for 1,000 such.
That would power a 4 car train for a very considerable distance, silently and with zero pollution at the point of use.
Regenerative braking is easy with a battery train.
Charging could be fully automatic via a short length of conductor rail that for safety reasons is only rendered live when the train is over it.
Fast charging would be possible anywhere with an 11Kv mains supply available.
Slower charging anywhere with mains electricity.
Charging from existing OHLE is an alternative on routes that are partially electrified.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: eightonedee on August 06, 2019, 10:31:27 pm
One of the things you become used to on this forum are the foibles of its members. It seems the class 230 is to Mark what the catering on IETs is to Broadgage!

However the continuing delays in the class 769 programme are of concern, as this must be messing up the cascade of units. It would be good to have some openness about the problems that clearly are being experienced. From what I have gleaned it appears that the OHL/diesel bi-modes have problems to be resolved. Have any "tri-mode" versions been completed and are any yet being tested?



Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: MarkHopwood on August 13, 2019, 06:44:48 pm
I don’t feel obsessed about 230s. I just don’t understand the enthusiasm to bring super-annuated LUL trains to GWR which would make performance more challenging but I accept the 769s have to show decent performance!


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: Celestial on August 13, 2019, 06:55:39 pm
I don’t feel obsessed about 230s. I just don’t understand the enthusiasm to bring super-animated LUL trains to GWR which would make performance more challenging but I accept the 769s have to show decent performance!

Given how long overdue the ones for TfW and Northern are, I think the first hurdle is that they show up at all.  Maybe you can beat the other two in getting yours in service first!  I see there have been some more failures of the 230 in the last few days, so whilst I was the one to suggest them, I do agree that the jury is still out on them, especially the diesel versions.


Title: Re: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways
Post by: Rhydgaled on November 09, 2019, 11:34:19 pm
A battery powered train SHOULD be more reliable than a diesel powered one.
Batteries are inherently modular and means are readily available to automatically bypass a failed battery, allowing the train to proceed with almost unaltered performance.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are the most likely technology, these are no longer new or exotic or untried technology, and are safer than lithium polymer batteries.

A 12 volt 100 AH lithium iron phosphate battery costs about £500 retail, less than half that much in bulk.
1,000 such batteries would cost in the region of £250,000 and would store over 1,000 Kwh of energy.
The total weight of these batteries is about 12 Kg each, or about 12 tons for 1,000 such.
That would power a 4 car train for a very considerable distance, silently and with zero pollution at the point of use.
Regenerative braking is easy with a battery train.
Charging could be fully automatic via a short length of conductor rail that for safety reasons is only rendered live when the train is over it.
Fast charging would be possible anywhere with an 11Kv mains supply available.
Slower charging anywhere with mains electricity.
Charging from existing OHLE is an alternative on routes that are partially electrified.
But what is "a very considerable distance"? I don't suppose a battery train would have the range necessary to do something like Wolverhampton to Aberystwyth and back (with a turnaround of only 10 minutes I doubt much recharging would happen at Aberystwyth), Crewe to Swansea (one way, as there might be time to charge at Swansea before heading back), Bristol to Plymouth, Exeter to Penzance or Swansea to Pembroke Dock. Sadly, I can see no alternative to diesel for those routes in the medium term. Reducing the fuel consumption is therefore key.

A class 230 would be completely unsuitable in terms of comfort/quality for such long journeys but surely the hybrid concept can be applied to better-quality rolling stock too. Angel Trains have even proposed converting existing DMUs with mechanical/hydrolic transmission (class 165 and class 175 if I recall correctly) which must be a much bigger technical challange than providing an alternative source of power for trains that already have electric motors.

So, my question is this, if 1,000 batteries are needed for an IPEMU (Independantly Powered Electric Multiple Unit) how many would you need for a new-build diesel-electric multiple unit with 2 or 3 23-24m vehicles? The batteries would be charged both by the diesel engine and with regenerative braking.



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