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Author Topic: Qn.2 for Mark Hopwood: Decarbonising local railways  (Read 8140 times)
Red Squirrel
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« 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?
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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #1 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.
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broadgage
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« Reply #2 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.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
MarkHopwood
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« Reply #3 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.
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #4 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)?
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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #5 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.
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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #6 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.
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #7 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.
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broadgage
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« Reply #8 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.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
MarkHopwood
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2019, 05:41:15 pm »

I agree. The technology needs some development but we are watching with interest.
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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #10 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.
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broadgage
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« Reply #11 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.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
MarkHopwood
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« Reply #12 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.
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Celestial
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« Reply #13 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.   
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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2019, 06:01:25 pm »

Thank you!
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