tirsdag 17. april 2018

Loving to Hate Duffs - Part II

Ah duffs. T'is a long time since I last blogged on them, but as in the good old Blue 'n' Yella' days, they got just about everywhere and now they pop up at most all preserved lines who deign to have diesels, and regularily tandem up with tin cans (kettles, you know steam trains) on puffy-chuffy railtours. We loved to hate them.

I actually tried very hard to love them. In the mid 1980s they had (unfortunately) displaced the venerable class 40 from all booked services on ScR and worked a mixed bunch of other services booked type 2.   So at one point in my career of bashing, in order to get lines for loco hauled and have some variety away from the West Highland Line, I succumbed to bagging boilered 47/0s before they maybe got ETH'd or those services went over to the new breed of plastic crappy DMUs we were hearing about. And I came to the conclusion that Duffs made a lot of fuss about nothing really, mediocre acceleration, and were only any use above 40 mph when you had to stick your head in the window anyway. Give them their due, they can apply a lot of power above 40 mph and screech away leaving any type 3 or 40 for dead, and on big loads, but really there is no fun in that. They have a shit load more horsey than 37s or 40s, and they choose to use it at the gallop, while the EE variants like the canter when their elegance in applying power and making superior noises comes to the fore.

The Duffs had a tight grip on all timetabled express services and spilled over onto other stoppers like the Fife Circuit, Stranraers, Dumfries Route, Snechie- Aberdeen and the Glasgow Dundee.  In other words they were so proliferate prior to  plasticisation (sprinters etc) that they filled the boots of everything else away from the hallowed ground of RA5. Even on those routes they showed up, with a 47 dropping on a summer shopper service Tain-Inverness (schnechie) which we did from Dingwall, forceably due to the 'dreadful fester' which otherwise would have ensued waiting for the various return of decent traction from the Far North and Kyle runs. In days when we frowned upon regular tops reports, but were happy to take the occaisional swipe at a cad's ill gotten gains, you could turn up to see what 'produced'  (to view, like houses, diagrams were 'viewed') and on ScR in 1983 to 86 it would be a duff anywhere RA6 would allow. Furthermore it would invariably be a rancid duff ie one you had been hauled by before.

As concellation, there was of course the fact that duffs in general, were not very reliable and failed fairly frequently on depot or in service. While they relegated class 40s, those now foot-loose 16 wheelers would often be found fetching knackered duffs around the east coast of Scotland.  Eastfield retained a kind of nominal attachment if not allocation of 40s for some reason, probably because Longsight and other depots didnt care if their 40s went itinerant, especially not in 1984 when they were essentially surplus locos awaiting disposal. 40s were also quite frequent visitors to Motherwell at that time, working mail services which terminated at the mail depot (presumably Polmadie?  8 axles were all banned from G.Central) and other inter.regional freights and the odd sunday 'drag' on the WCML.  Apparent 'booked' workings for type 4s which were often 40s were the Motorail via Mossend, which changed loco for some reason at Carstairs north, someone may like to inform me, we once missed a split boxer there on a through service having messed up the whole thing. They did also drop on the Carlisle-Stranraers and in particular Addexs there -to, but that was a kind of Nirvanna rare as hens teeth by 1983 at least.

47/7s were quite useful for getting about the place quickly though, accelerating the previous MacRat push pulls, and also being a bit quicker, if more cramped than the Aberdeen services so often worked by forties before. So you could get back to the west or east if something had allegedly dropped on the fife circuit, or Dumfries's, in no time at all. However my notebook reveals that in the long hot summer of 1984, class 37s on various loads were out in replacement force on the Glasgow Edinburgh route, with various 'big' locos producing on these services. It seemed they were down two of the six or so sets they had, and were keeping those they had for the Glasgow Aberdeen. Unfortunetly I never remember that anything else but 47/7s then did the Aberdeen route, which was required for any English Electric for me, by fate of being born a couple of years too late to do Deltics and Forties on the route, and a bit too early to have continued such a mis-spent youth into the what seem to me quite odd glory days of the 37s in the 1990s.

On that point , The 37s  were synonymous for me with a little era where they worked the beautiful extremities of the Scottish highlands. It was part of the kudos. Ok average speeds were only about 35mph, but the locos had to grind, growl and whine away to ply their trade on these routes, and provided far superior passenger and frieght haulage than the MacRats. The tea-cups and tip-tops as we called the two surviving sulzer rattlers north of the border, had their charms and most 37 bashers I knew had a soft spot for 26s if only to either have some variety on the far north, and to piss off the class 27 mafia. When 37s were take,off ordinary services on these routes, and indeed when the 'combine harvesters' ie 37/4s started, I ran out of interest. Some of the thrill was gone I suppose, in the variety of loco types when the 40s were withdrawn, and the nostalgia of riding in mark 1 steam heat vacs along the far flung glens and loch sides, with tokens being handled by signalmen,  passed into the history books. I feel suddenly very honoured to have been a nipper just old enough as a young teenager to experience those wonderful anachronisms.

Anyway Duffs, yes we loved to hate them and loved it when they broke down. The push pull 47/7s had a heavy maintenance schedule, and they kept the night shift at ED going I guess in brake pads and leaky power units. They did provide by in large a wonderful service which was 42-44 minutes very often, surpassing the 45 the latest leccie things do. Of course they only had to stop at Falkirk high until the evil of plastic was due to emerge, when for some reason they threw in eithe Linlithgow or Polo-mint to slow the timetable down or something like that we who were into conspiracy theories said. As I sai above, they whizzed you east west.  I was actually most disappointed when in 1993 I was going to an interview in the Granite City and the service had gone both plastic 158, and also slower!

Of course just to piss the duff bashers off, we took the Kings Cross sunday morning 'tram' (HST IC 125) from Glasgow Queen street, and its 4500 horse power of English Electric ancestory pissed all over a duff timetable, going through Cadder Yard at at least 110 mph !  The jewel in the crown for the Basil Brush fans, the shove duff, only ran with 6 coaches so their 100mph 'crown' was outdone by EE with the Deltics and the d400s/ class 50s which hauled 10 + at a steady 100mph.

We loved to hate duffs because unlike other classes in Scotland, there were masses of them, they all looked the same - slab sided, bald headed and a bit too modern - and they made a kind of nasty whiny noise which made too much fuss about getting places not all that quickly when the speed limit was low as in the Fife Circuit or via Huntly route. Duffs turned up on everything and made some quite long journeys feel like a waste of time when their flat ended boringness appeared at a station around the ScR,  or dropping onto an Addex or Mystex. 86 down for a 47/4 forward is recorded at least twice in 1983-84 for me on mystexes, when dual heat stock would have allowed for a roarer followed by a forty, as they had often been a couple of years before. They turned up too on those nice little producers at Carstairs or on the via Dumfries line, sometimes leaving you with one of those 'dreadful festers' for a train back to Glasgow central, having 'refused' a duff on a 'portion' or Stranraer service for example. 

It was kind of like part of the game though really. Quite a few 'moves'  sans TOPS report were a gamble, and there was nothing better than a bunch of EE fans being 'withered' by a 'spoon' turning up (aka Duff) on a service which was bound to 'produce' something good once in a while, just not today.  How we would moan and roar in disappointment in a collective exasperation, all with a tongue in cheek because of course we were daft enough to go up to Dingwall, early doors to Ayr,  or down to Kilmarnock on the off chance a decent loco to our liking would produce.

Die hard thirty seven bashers got their revenge on Duffs on the ScR of course, because they took over from the boilered duffs on various services when all stock went ETH in the late 80s and early 90s. I guess as the days of the thrash along the loch sides and over Rannoch moor were glorious to me, for many bashers, flat out up the Highland Line or tootling along Huntly route were halcyon days. Indeed there were a lot of big summer time 'productions' and temporary allocations of NB syphons to SCr. A little bit of my heart would love to have done all the routes 37s previously had been very rare visitors on, such as the fife circuit and mega rare Perth via Newburgh,  but like i say I kind of belonged to another epoch, and BOOKED thrity sevens on those routes was kind of a cheat in a way. These routes were kind of like gold nuggets which in the days of steam heat, produced 37s rarely when the far north ones had been serviced in Glasgow or England, and you kind of had to be in the know, and it kind of never ever happened in the school holidays.  I remember seeing 37/4s on the Highland and  and Huntly routes and thinking, nah, not my cuppa tea, the best is behind them. It was a teenage flirt, a last passage of childish things perhaps. I had moved on then, bevvying and going up mountains, alhtough not in that order, and enjoying driving cars instead of taking sprinters.  Now though if it were today that this last chance to do everything for a couple of years was available today, I would give up all for a two week Freedom of Scotland and hope for tractors and not spoons on all routes!

torsdag 12. april 2018

The Truth About Class 40s?

A martian may happen to read the Wikipedia insert for the BR Class 400 (EE Type 4 D200 series) and think of them as rather a faiiled locomotive. There is always the comparison to the great and wonderful pacifics and brittania classes they displaced initially, and then how they had to play second fiddle to the more powerful 'real' type 4s and of course, the soveriegn abilities of the Deltics.

We have to step back from that as enthusiasts, gritting our teeth if we were fans of the 'whislters'. Firstly we have to accept some of the points, but also we have to argue that on the one hand the forties werent quite intended for that work in one way, and on the other hand they provided years of working high income medium heavy services.

The first perspective those pipe smoking 'kettle' fans and modern day 'bring back steam' false nostalgia whipper snappers should be confronted with is this. The forty was a mix of two forms of much earlier locomotive, both concieved back in the mid 1940s pre nationalisation. Firstly EE had collaborated  with LMS of course on the two CoCo prototypes which eventually saw the light of day just as nationalisation fell. These were intended to work mixed traffic, but in working express passenger services they were most always worked in multiple. Secondly it appears that although the southern regions' 10203 was produced in 1954, its heavy 1CoCo1 design dated back a decade to Bullied's drawing board. Interestingly, the 102 series for SR were not intended as mixed traffic and were geared up to a whacking 110 mph, probably then 53:9 or something like that, for working the through express passenger services to the costal ports.

So BR ordered on the safe a little, still concerned about maximum axle weights and opted for specifying 1CoCo1 for all the initial type fours, and thus in fact making them over weight beasts the lot of them. Also by 1956, EE had developed air charged intercooling which gave a boost of around 20% in power and improved torque and fuel consumption. EE could have stuck with 10 early production D200s in this heavy guise and ordered either a CSVT v12 at around 1850-2000 hp, or  V16 at a higher rating. Indeed they did offer this format, but such was the contentment in the BTC and BRB with both the peaks and the D200s that orders of several hundred units were placed before they could be sold on higher horse power and lighter construction in Co Co arrangements.

As this is a syphon blog, a little aside about that magical 2000hp rating for the v12 CSVT.   37 292 was rated up to this level, the methodology noted somewhere on the internet, and it was to my own experience and accounts of others, not a happy runner. Also the east african 'bone' locos EE made , looking like the bastard child of a twenty and a thirty seven, or a prototype class 58 even, were rated at 2000 in the mid sixties, but they only lasted into the early 80s. But you can look to what AEI australia, EE's licensed builder, who went on to take the v12 to 2350 hp before it became the metric RK with large whiney turbochager, and they took the modest v8 up to 1750hp successfully in a class of Bo Bo locos for Malaysia ( Class 21 or 28 there I cant remember which) . The failings of the similarily uprated v16 CSVT are oft quoted, but the 50s had a mixed bag of issues and were thrashed hard on 100mph services for three decades, laterly many semi fast stopping services. The success of the 37 and the portugeuse 2350 hp locos is always taken as testimony to this being dead right as a percentage uprating over the older SVT in a rail traction application at least. However given a big order for possibly then 500 units in around about 1959 ( ie remaining d200 order  and all the 37s) then EE might have put their boffins to work upgrading the now proven 12 CSVT which they had exported to Africa already in 1956 and onward.  Perhaps bigger turbos and modified valve gear, or maybe they would have trialled gear driven cams instead of the supposedly bug -bear timing chains of the Syphon G, EE Type 3. It wasnt to be and 37292 was just a standard engine  with the weaknesses of the timing chain and sticky valve gear revealed at this higher rating. EE to my mind, could have fixed it. A 12 is inherently smoother running than a 16 as well.

So back to 40s and why they get sneered at by some 4-6-2 beardy-weirdy types. BR had already assumed that for the larger trains they would follow the American convention with their 1750 / 2000 hp GM 645 locos and 'robots'. or running multiple diesels. I guess by the early experience of the CoCo LMS designed locos, they knew that over 3000 hp from DE power was needed to operate the 500 plus ton intercity express trains. This type of power would then surpass the output of the best stoked 'tin can' as we patronisingly called  ahem, those kettle driven locos, and then exceed their journey times by far due to not needing to rewater or change crew so often. The final steam workhorses like the 'Peppercorn' pacifics and Evening Star, had massive amounts of torque and drawbar horsepower. Essentially two to four pistons working at over  200 PSI could create a massive amount of midspeed  horsepower. However at higher speeds many locos were prone to excessive wear and they crews had to work really hard to maintain those speeds. Deltic, pull the handle carefully, oh, and be a good boy and stop pulling back when you get to 100mph.

The plot  thickens here too. Through the 1950s and into the 60s there was a Tory government and it got a little corrupt when it came to the transport minister and his brother in law, who was big in road construction and those who wanted the fledgling national airlines to flourish domestically as well as internationally. Add to this the new found affluence and the economic Ford-Keynes -Milton golden economics of car production and personal mobility, then the railways were going to be kind of second fiddle and lose some of the premiere shine of the previous era. On the one hand we did though have a massive investment in dieselisation and new track bed, whille on the other ancilliary or duplicate  lines were hacked away after the Beeching Report. What this boiled down to was that doubling up of the D200s was seen as wasteful in the rush to de-steam, and over time, many fast non stop passenger expresses would be deleted from the diagram board in order not to compete with airlines and motorcars, a situation which continued into the days of the APT prototype fleet under Thatcher, who did not want end to end competition with the newly privatised British Airways on the then key Glasgow /London route.

Given that forties could have been paired up for all those trains, or twin higher geared 37s used, then the steam lobby would just bemoan dieselisation. On many services steam needed to work in tandem pairs or be banked anyway to avoid wheel slip or grinding to a hault. Single 1750 -2350 EE locos could then have been used on the semi fast services with loads of 8 or less coaches.

Now we come to the second point. Although forties were relegated, that was a glorious thing. It meant they worked out very useful lives first in the 1960s displacing steam from a lot of freight and lighter sub 100mph expresses and medium range trains. They were also very reliable compared to the new fleet of type fours with the LDA intercoold or eventually the class 50, and had a much loinger service interval than the Deltics, often being so stretched out beyond 8,000 hours as to hasten major dammage in some 40s leading perhaps to the first rounds  of withdrawals.  As steam fell away and the peaks and duffs came on line, 40s could be moved away north to work on the twistier routes where 90mph is not going to happen all that often anyway. They then displaced some slower type 2 workings or multiples, such as in Scotland, and really in a lot of ways lived a charmed life being celebrities who went first from BBC national prime time to regional day time broadcasting so to speak, but thus  they endeared themselves to in particular 'Northerners' in the halcyon days of bashing in the mid 70s to the mid 80s.

Despite being a little pedestrian in acceleration and overloading when coaxed too much on even light gradients, the 40s did a very nice job indeed on load 8 running a 75mph service and were more reliable in miles per casualty than the Peaks or of course the ubuquitous  Duff. In their last bastion of premiere intercity diagrammed workings, Scottish Region, they were only superceded and bettered by shove duffs working shorter trains and having far higher maintenance intervals. Admittedly a duff will work a load 8 Aberdeen or Inverness service a little quicker, but with the ETH on there is little or nothing in it. During their swansong, 1983/85 , there were english depots sending them north and scottish control and depots not sending them back again, because they knew they had a reliable stand in and recovery loco. They started to attract a very large following  and I was very glad to have had one of the very last saturday workings over the Carlisle - Settle route and back with one, plus random bagging them around the place, and plodding up and down on the Fife circuit one day, nice and toasty warm with a steaming 40048 being the 16 wheels in charge of that service, and a now well know railway director buying the 'family ticket' green special day rover  for us to do the trip together in autumn 1984.

Gone they are not, seven existing and six were mustered this week to celebrate their collective 60th birthday, and quite a sight that was!!  Whistle down the wind of railway history you old EE type 4s !

mandag 15. mai 2017

Alternative Type 3 That Could Have Happened

A favourite past-time of many a basher and enthusiast is to discuss the locos which could have been, or the improvements which should have been made, or if only one transmission had dominated and kept the variety of locos going another ten to fifteen years after the great deaths of 'non standards' and diesel hydraulics in particular.

We have the various incarnations of deltics, from a super syphon with a turbo deltic T 18 for rattling up the west coast main line in the mid 60s to the super deltic working in pairs  on god knows what ever train would need 8,800 hp. We have then the sulver variants, the LD8 with intercooling and the LV8 which was used in some French locos. Then we have Mayachs

Yes indeedy it would have been fun to have a type three with a maybach in it. We had of course the Hymeks and tantalisingly we could have had a real beast if they had dropped the boilers from Westerns and fitted with twin MB870s as used in Hymeks instead of the v 12s. A single engined diesel electric version of the hymek would have been interesting indeed.

As we can judge from the BoBo diesel hydraiulic, which was given a route availability eq to RA6, a traditional build requiring boiler space would entail a diesel electric having six axles, most likely being a CoCo but since this would have been made somewhere quirkly with either Crompton or Brush or maybe GE electrical systems in the early 60s, it could well have been an AIA configuration.

How hell fire would it have been? Well oddly the Hymeks were arbitrarily depowered just for the purpose of being a type 3, incidentally the same fate falling on the Brush type 2 when they went v12 svt and lost about 45 hp to come under the type 3 threshold. type three was  not up to 2000 hp in the BRB rating system, it was medium power from 1500 to 1750, wiith type 4 being from 2000. The little gap meant that the standard rating for the EE CSVT v12 and the Maybach v16 was dropped. EE had exported two to three versions recognisable as Class 37 cousins by 1960 with 1850hp and the standard traction rating in the v160 series German locos was 1940  horsepower for the maybach unit. Ah the oddities of pipe smoking beaurocrats with public school accents, sticklers for rules in black and white.

In case you didnt know the germans had a crack at a twin v16 engined beast , the v320 which nearly became a class., In their wisdom and over zelousness to be marvellously good at service engineering, the loco survives today, earning revenue on the DB to 2009 from its launch in 1962. It is a monster, sounding like a pair of thirty sevens on crystal meth, you can here it best here https://youtu.be/vFqI27GQbzY .     Even a single of these MB839s as they were then (maybe a twin turbo predecessor of the 870?) would have made a formidable loco at the foot of type 4 rating, 320 001 being rated at 2 x 2,000hp.

Even at 1750 hp the Hymeks found themselves being selected for fast medium weight expresses on GWR and by many accounts performed well and were more reliable than their twin engined oil sloshing cousins. Of them all they really semed the most sensible to keep on operating with, and there could even have been an attempt to convert them to diesel electric since they have such standard body and bogie construction. Alas the pukker little type 3s met the same fate as all else fitted with a big torque convertor.

Hymeks could have lived out another two decades in the far west country or wales, given boilered stock survived into the late 80s and they would have been converted to air brakes. ETH would have been a hard ask because there is no drive take off on the other end of the crank. A full DE coinversion or a sister class with CoCo set up would perhaps not enjoy such utility from the 'high' speed power unit. It is hard for the lay man to tell, but of course so many DEs now are running at 1200rpm or more now! Perhaps there would be some electric field benefits of the engine being able to run at either a longer first field until diversion kicks in, or more importantly a longer second field than 37s did, them dieing on trains which had to run at 40-50 mph banging in and out of weak field. Or like the v12 early 70s HST power cars, perhaps there are far smoother transitions with a higher speed engine matched to its direct drive gernator or alternator (??)

There is  a great irony in thinking of a DE TYpe 3 or 4 with a marvellous Maybach v16 nestling in its boxy interior, and the demise of diesel hydraulic locomotives en masse, Today's British Railways depend largely on hydraulic transmission for most all classes of DMU, while of course HST power cars have been in part re-engined with you got it, v16 Maybachs! And more reliable than their VP185 multi turbo compeition they are allegedly.

mandag 16. januar 2017

Hybrid Trains, Electro Diesels and Dual or Triple Mode Multiple Units

Through the days of 'blue n' yellow' BR railways, electro diesels and dual mode multiple units were a bit of a side show, but luckily Southern Region persevered and even raised the ugly duckiling class 73 to a swan like status on the Gatwick express services.

With the go ahead for the Thames link it was obvious that there would need to be dual 'voltage',  really dual mode trains with third rail shoes and pantographs. The same was true when the "Chunnel" (as it was first dubbed),  service had to meander into Waterloo on old 3rd rail lines at fraction of its 25kv overhead potential.

Technology Works But Is There Not the Pressure to Move Over?

There really has been no other pressure for dual mode and certainly not more complex systems since then, until the replacement for IC125 was chosen as a Japanese dual /triple mode with german technology which may offer later a battery hybrid mode varian. It has been tessted to proof of concept in the outgoing IC 125 ironically enough, with Hitachi's V/Train 2 Hyabusa tests.

There is quite a bias to the south of England regarding these trains so far. This is a rather insidious bias to the capital with nearly all other Metropoles having the potential application of multi mode tractive power.  You can also argue that London is the most electrified of cities and connurbations already, with only Glasgow and Liverpool being near the relative number of trains run on sparky stuff. What though is the future for more complicated trains away from the south east or on minor routes around there? What pull is there towards the technological shift? What are the economics?  Why bother?

Why bother indeed? Because there is currently no real punishment for diesel combustion under the rails other than fuel costs, which are far cheaper than running a fleet of upto 150 lorries to haul the same tonnage as a single 1000-2000 tonne train. As far as the author knows, this concept has only ever been aired in transport department and select comittee in the UK and regional parliaments.

However there is a wind of change. The mass change to diesel cars has lead to more low level, local emissions of nitrous oxide and the more dangerous 'particulates', which we used to call diesel-soot. With filters and diesel cats, these pollutants have become less oderously apparent, but due to the volume of diesel vehicles on urban roads, it has become an insidious source of pollution which threatens public health perhaps as much as lead in petrol. Trains have a part to play in this, because they transit slowly often through cities, accelerate blowing out those pollutants at high levels, and then sit on idle or the worst point for even the most 'green diesels', they have to switch off and be restarted at terminii.

Currently oil is at a pretty reasonable rate and most of the cost of fuels are in taxes and distribution. Trains are so much very more efficient than road vehicles because they roll at far lower friction over only slight gradients and usually incur far fewer stop-starts caused by conjestion, by the nature of signalling sections and operating them safely and efficiently. Where roads are really anarchic and unpredictable over time, some railway diagrams probably can be found to have originated in the 1950s. Trains in commuter areas really have not become that much faster, and frieght services have only become marginally faster on the slower, more arduous diesel routes.   

There is then off the main lines and premium passenger services, not any current incentive to experiment with dual mode electro diesels. These will in 25kv format cost significantly more to build than standard from either single type. However there is a flexibility in routes of course, and actual range the train can cope with before refuelling at a depot. Things will change a lot if and when a new 'clean air' act for Cities comes into force. 

Brexit has a small upside for the UK train fanatic and capital investor, because it may mean that UK trains no longer have to follow the consensus on every more quiet, efficient and expensive diesel power unit solutions. This means that if the UK decides to run dual mode or hybrid trains into cities to reduce particulates and noise pollution, then they can perhaps get the best system and compromise on emissions when running on diesel and get trains which are perhaps a little more economic than those of the continent.   

The Japanese Test On UK Steels

Hitachi certainly knew where they were  going, but in fact of course we owe the concept of battery hybrid to a far earlier form of covert travel-- the diesel electric submarine. This week even marks the 100th anniversary of the k13 sinking which was steam - battery powered.  Boats are a more extreme example of efficient load bearing when compared to rubber tyes on tarmac. Here  it has been efficient for a centtury to carry lead acid batteries and charge, while most submarines can use the diesels on full power to both charge and drive the 'ship'on the surface. Lead acid batteries are reasonably safe, a bit of hydrogen is released, but they are immensely heavy and it has taken years to get to the Litium ion batteries which are so much better a power to wieght that they render hybrid trains a real proposition within standard rolling stock.

The HST converted carried approximately 2 tonnes of batteries in the first trailer mark III of the set, with a VP185 2250hp new standard power  car infront. Hitachi swapped out the traction motors ( to be AC I beleive), with recurculative breaking capacity, which charges those Li Ion batteries of course. The engine can also charge the battery and can be kept at a higher power output than needed to provide tractive power such that batteries are charges, and the engine is kept in its most efficient range of rpm - power output, while also avoiding thermal cycling up and down between shorter stops.

THe unit also was built to run out of station on a dead engine, start engine underway and the take over power. The battery power available was an impressive 1MW,  about 1300hp, storage at 481  kwh.  This sped the train from a standing halt on battery only to about 50 mph when the engine could then be engaged.

As you see in this image though, the impressive acceleration in the video may be due as much to the fact that this is less than half a working IC 125 train 'set', and the GCR preserved line is hardly known for its gradients. Two tonnes of batteries is a negligible amount to carry slung under a single coach, so you could obviously imagine an 8 car set with two power cars and two battery trailers, pushing out 2MW or in excess of 2600 hp! Also as you can see, this is a prototype system which uses the entire mrk III trailer for electrical control systems and what looks like a large radiator to cool the batteries and high amp machinery. However, this is just at prototype level, and coaches already carry lead acid batteries so the whole system could probably be shrunken to fit under a specially designed coach with more being included in the locomotive power car specially designed for the purpose on outset.

A Realistic Technology for Today Already?

Practical battery hybrids are upon us in multiple units and light railways today, and probably very near to us if there is a green incentive,   would be locomotives which offer clean quiet hybrid mode,  or are operated with a battery trailer-driver for example. There is an obvious immediate advantage for commuter multiple units when they enter urban areas that they can switch off their power units and rely on their batteries to move without pollution. With some form of recharging pick up like a third rail shoe, an ETS supply connection or even a pantograph, then when at rest in a termini or siding, such trains could further avoid burning diesel. (In fact you could have a battery only train which recharges at planned points on a diagram (timetabled service) with either a dedicated special automated power connection, manual connection upon longer stops at the terminii or depot, or picking up power from over head or third rail to charge at rest or underway) 

On that point about burning diesel, and after the biodiesel fiasco of a few years back, why would we want to consider such a disgustingly ungreen thing in a new sparkling enviro-friendly type of train? Well currently battery power seems to be limited to operations of under 60 miles in that mode alone, and that is from the lighter dual mode which do not need to carry diesel power units and fuel tanks. Given a cold British winter affecting battery chemistry, and sliding doors on such services emptying the train of warm air every few minutes, it seems like a bit of a hiding to nothing.

There is though that nice benefit of making our cities safer, cleaner and quieter while using 20 miles worth of that battery capacity. Also when you combine recirculative (electric motor-dynamo mediated) braking then we start to see that we could have quite an efficient system for short, non electrified routes, or we could reach out our range beyond overhead or third rail routes to include nice little extra towns, airports or other places of interest where it is otherwise expensive to electrify. 

Diesel hybrids though have a little hidden surprise up their sleave in efficiency and also in performance from a hybrid train. The motor can be run at a far more constant high output in order to charge the batteries when actually on. A feature of mid sized (over 400 hp and 6L ) to large turbo diesels is that they are most efficeint when running around and above 80% of maximum power output. Also engineers can design even more efficiency into a diesel which has a constant rpm output or limited range of actual torque-rpm application.   Things like diesel "cats" and particulate filters work better too at higher rpms than being clogged up or not heated properly when idling a lot.

Yet another benefit is a little more technical, but very important. As any train driver will tell you, all trains actually have "gears" and electric or diesel electric are no exception. Electric traction motors eventually start to revolve so fast at the current amps-volts field being applied that they produce an electro magnetic feedback or resistance to further useful power and especially torque to be applied. Rather than grinding away in first gear, a locomotive lets the engine back down to lower revs or idle and resets the circuit to higher voltage such that the new rotational speed of the motors can be matched and more power applied. Most locos have three, or three and a half if you take the initial amp loads into account. Now some routes are terrible for this gear shift happening, both upwards and downwards, especially around the 40-50mph for older locos and some multiple units. For we syphon fans, this was kind of an achilles heel, which meant that while they excelled at both the grunting of the highland routes and the welsh valleys, also on 60 -80 mph services, on routes like the 'Fife circuit' or Inverness-Aberdeen, there are significant sections with just that nasty speed range, 40-50 , so performance was lack lustre unless a driver chose to break the speed limit. With batteries on board you can push through with a more rapid voltage transition (field diversion) maintaining speed and maybe accelerating until the engine streams back on to power the train through. WIth GPS and power management, this also means that stretches at this speed can be handled on battery power providing an optimum voltage output, while they are charged by an engine at higher RPM, or the engine is not used given a duration of battery use which is calculated. 

 In addition this peak performance output only means quite a small volume engine, based on a truck engine for example, can output the required power and be programmed for an optimal run up and down of RPM, which really helps reliability and extends service interval over an engine which is expected to deliver tractive power (torque strain) through a wide range of rpm. The diesel for a battery hybrid need only ever charge the batteries and thus be managed at a constant output over the duration of the amps replenishment to the batteries.  The other option is to use a larger, rail industry unit from the likes of MTU, tuned for 80% charging rpm and the using more than this up to 100% as boosting amps on the circuit under hard acceleration or on demanding gradients, 

We come back to that inherent benefit of rail over road when it comes to hauling larger weights. A hybrid battery vehicle as a coach or say a driving trailer attached in a 'pair' to a diesel or electric locomotive, need only weight 10% of the overall train weight to achieve this short but very desirable range. Taking up on that point of having a diesel or electric locomotive with a battery car attached (trialled by Hitachi in a converted IC 125 power car and leading coach btw) we get a very siginificant benefit in being able to traverse towns and cities with diesel off, or for an electric loco, outside electrified routes. That point applies too to non electrified rail heads and marshalling yards where shunting requires seperate locomotives currently. So there is a capital cost and train crew cost which can be reduced by allowing a single, main locomotive to conduct its own shunting. Also new rail heads near to AC or third rail routes would be far more economic and safe to connect to the network. 

We really don't need to be going that far or that fast to get several benefits from hybrid trains, but they are going to add a cost which is difficult to meet if there is not enough demand or pull from legilslation. The replacement of IC125 itself is a case in hand about the economics of actually having progress in this direction, with the class 800 series due to be largely electro diesel so far. In order to achieve standardisation on this large capital outlay, the government had to step in of course and help the industry achieve a critical mass or if you like economy of scale. 

On that point, what we need in future is the ability for investment to be optimised via economies of scale and standardisation, which is something that had become once again quite fragmented under privatisation and against intention. In the 1970s and 80s we saw a largely standard bodied 300+-400-500 series of electric multiple units in two forms (aluminium narrow bodied and steel Mrk III derived) , and then the successful (and aweful) class 150-158 series were based on this standard deriviative of the Mrk III BR Coach body and bogies. Over time an owner or the state can expect TOCs to come and go, and to vary what they want to lease or are required to lease to meet greening legislation, so a modular approach to any new leap forward into all that whacky but feasable dual mode, electro-diesel, hybrid and AC / DC charged battery units would be best suited by this same approach most likely. Here we enjoy economies of scale and common saftey compliance and commissioning at time of purchase, and then the ability to mix and match, repurposing train sets for different routes or requirements. 

Those self-same standardised multiple units built in the late 70s and 80s are now reaching the end of their life span, and for the diesels this may be accelerated by legislation or a decline in subsidies for the TOCs. So there is an opportunity, as we see with Class 800 IC125 replacement, for a collective consensus and common purchasing of cleaner trains which are potentially cheaper to operate in fact and open up new through routes which avoid the conjested terminal stations in our cities. In Scandinavia,  electric cars are all the rage, and the only hybrid to buy is a plug in one so that you can do the school run in blissful greenness while saving a good bob or six on all that warming engines up and standing in commuter traffic for those very many short journeys most people actually do most often. 

Personally I have never liked diesel multiple units because of their noise when compared to the gentle whine and clickety clack, plus the old shoogle as we called it of trains like the venerable class 303 electric multiple unit. DMUs also increased many journey times susbstantially over the previous type 3 and type 4 locomotive hauled services and offered often less capacity. I remember my first tour on a 150 series unit on a Crewe- Nottingham service at 6 am, trying to get some kip after an overnight stop over, and finding that torque convertor, moany engine set up most annoying, along with the strip lighting. The romance of compartment stock with subtle little dimpled lamp lights and sliding top windows may be consigned to the preserved branch line, but I would like to use quieter trains, the greener the better.

torsdag 29. desember 2016

Trains For the Future? Diesel Lines Will Exist, what shall we do?

For the first time in forty years, the UK sees a new mixed traffic Locomotive type enter service. They will run a lot of services which previously classes 47 and 37 worked, and find new types of operations which perhaps are higher tonnage or  faster or intermodal.

Good luck to the 68s, they seem to be the usual air conditioner noise type things, with a kind of continental super speed train front end coupled to the UK's rather messy array of cables and pipes.

What though could we expect to be working other diesel lines in future? Speed is the new black with even the conservative party supporting a lift of average speeds and the introductin of the *wasteful* HS2 london super commuter route. For years many services had been slower thatn they were in the early 1980s because of the removal of locomotive hauled services, and the introduction of more stops in the hunt of passengers and subsidies along the way. Finally on many routes the capacity became saturated by either physical means -no more diagrams possible, as in many London commuter services- or because passenger demand for those type of slow, and often expensive services had waned/

Loco  hauled is by no means a solution for all services, especially not lower speed, frequent stoppers. Much as though syphon bashers would like to sit in load five and hear a grumbling tractor grind its way to Rimmey, Shap, Mallaig or Kyle, many of these routes are better served by 156s which are arguably more reliable, and cheaper to operate, and in fact when you take motive power and rolling stock into account, have had a remarkably long career now and it is not coming to an end any time. 

However there are many routes where multiple units just do not have the power and of note, tractive effort to make for a service which is anywhere near as fast as loco or power car hauled trains. 156s are 20 minutes to half an hour slower on the Oban to Glasgow route than 37s , and that is comparing the unit being worked really hard to the 37 having a little jaunt with notch 8 rarely achieved over most of the 74 miles or so on the actual WHL..  Units are great and economic when there is a slow stopping service with either a single two or three car or as is the norm for many 156, 158 and laterly 182s and so on, a brace of the single MUs. Beyond that and loco hauled is more reliable and flexible because rolling stock can be added one at a time, and specialist stock like break vans with significant bike and parcel cages, or restaurtant cars and so on can be added. Indeed over the course of two decades, demands change so this flexiubility to dial in or out services versius just bums on seats gives TOCs or national operators a broad opportunity to match customer needs, capacity and routes to different stock set variuants. Stock can of course also be converted to electric multiple units too, when the wires or third rail stretch themselves along routes, or if older multiple units become unservicable. Rail economists from Loughborough and the formerly public Scotrail, are in agreement that a rake of six mark ones or twos, and  five  mark 3s, are more fuel economic than running multiple units.  Also there is then a trade off between tieing up your tractive power and the related miles per causalty and miles per service to your stock, so the trade off above 200 passengers or so is  usually in the point at which it is more sense to have loco hauled.

The issue with multipile units is that they carry less horse  power per passenger and this is as true of the latest generation of higher speed and titling 200 series units, the voyagers and so on, as with I suspect the new intercity high speed express class 800, which I very much doubt from the spec will actually achieve current IC 125 diagram speeds on their diesel routes. Both the 200 main types and the 158s and 170s had major issues during introduction and require a proactive maintenance schedule to keep their availability high. Higher speed engines slung down in the dusty, wet and snowy under carriage areas of rolling stock are subject to a lot of thermal cycling, dust, humidity and so on, so they come with unforseen teething issues in the real world or conjested rail routes and demands for frequent stops. Moreover this goes out over their life cycle, with some of the  earliest third generation stock already being phased out (not in fact that it did not last as long as what it replaced, it is probably just more delapedated than the loco hauled roilling stock when it was phased out)

Class 68s will undoubtedly be working on DRS operated passenger services where an express element is required, but only if enough of them can be released from the more profitable frieght diagrams, for which there is allegedly a current shortage of motive power. The question we have raised before, is just how much horse power do you really need to run some of these semi fast and 70mph route expresses, and how much do you need to work an average engineering permanent way train? The answer to that is already very well proven, type three is ample, and even the type two and a half class 31 was good enough for much of it, as long as ETH wasnt needed. With the demands for higher powered ETS as it is now, and the ability to work faster when needed, we could say that around 2200 hp would be the new area for a type 4 mixed traffic loco, which could be a jack of all trades up to 90mph at least. If the EU would only allow a relaxation, and Brexit may well do so, for locomotive emmissions, then there is now a plethora of compact power units of mid speed to higher speed which could fit very nicely in this power band, while also allowing for space for a secondary generator for ETS or alternatively, a hybrid battery power pack system.

What would then be my ideal train set for working semi fasts of the future? Likely to be things like the welsh routes, the cross country routes in england, the SW, the NE and just about anywhere north of the soon to be 25Kv Edin/Glas Corridor.  Firstly the 68 will fill a near future need for non class 800 services to places like Lincoln, hull and Scarborogh in the East, West Wales and N Wales, the West Country and in Scotland Aberdeen and Inverness. This is on THROUGH services where an EMU is likely to be dragged north, the demise of class 90 within sight now regrettably as a passenger loco on the main trunk routes. I can see that if competition for diagrams on routes actually made more a market of the whole monopolistic qausi private TOC situatioin we have now, then some bright sparks like Virgin would want to offer very much faster intercity regional services which could out compete car and bus for journey time. In Scotland and on much of the transpennine XC routes, you could do this today by cutting out stops and running 50 year old locos and stock.

What we need apart from just more brute horse power per passenger, is actually trains that tilt and that is what virgin forsaw with the original concept of the 220. If they had only dared make the sets have an IC 125 style pwer car with a tilting mechanism then they could have had a real runner, or if they had dual moded them, or even triple moded them with third rail shoes, then this would have been a route beater which could compete on different XC express services.  Instead they opted for a somewhat underpowered set up, which had a lot of teething problems and the whole titling thing is at last note, switched off. The trains seem to be operating with more stops when they do get to diesel sections, while otherwise they whizz along at top speed under the wires. Class 800 will do gosh 140 mph, so it's back to the future, from 1989 when we had 140nph, non tilting services on the ECML and not even as fast as the  APT went on the WCML. I suspect that they will languish in terms of acceleration under diesel power, and always be making up for time once under the wires of the GWR or ECML. " Zings" as we called them, 125s, are being given a last lease of life while the 800s are introduced, the wires go up on Bristol and Cardiff, and also therer after on diesel only services in deep GWR cider country. This tends to suggest that 800 is known to be slower on diesel already, while it will of course be 12% faster where 25kv, long straights and track ATP allow. To improve other journey times outside those long ECML and GWR straights which allow for safe 140mph running, we will as BR knew back in the 1960s and virgin followed suit in the late 1990s, need to tilt.

Tilting locomotives are not actually that new, it is just that these rather heavier elements have been burried in the middle of experimental and pre production train sets, like the APT  E and P. The Aussies have a train which allegedly tilts, but it seems like this is just a minor comfort title achhieved on the air suspension, because it is barely noticeable in any of the footage of the trains which operate the long and twisting route up to Darwin. An HST power car of its day, in rather traditional build with an advanced power unit for the time (more HP per tonne than a deltic non turbo unit) so today we could expect to do it all a lot lighter. For example we can think that we achieve the same type of horse power in 8 cylinders from a VP based fantasy power unit, and many other offerings are out there in mid speed marine (often called high speed when in traction, above 1000 rpm,) An HST power car is amazingly light in fact at an RA5 rated 79 tonnes fuelled. You can imagine fitting a good deal of tilting equipment, a smaller engine and an emergency lithium battery bank for reservce power for tilting and air reseroir in the same weight. Also we have major advances in applying tractive effort and avoiding wheel slip. At horse power per tonne per passenger then we quite quickly come up in an economy for having a single power car per four passenger coaches when speeds well in excess of 100mph with good pick up times are required. A six car 170 formation for example has only around 1800 hp available for tractive effort. and carries more weight and probablky uses more fuel per passenger than a 125 working a slower service for its capaibility.

So my set is as follows. DMV,. TSO, TSO, TR and DBFST. The power car has a small V8 installed instead of the v 12 or v16s currently used , but with less emissions nonsence on its exhaust. This driver motor vehicl then also contains space for parcels and bicycles and a small extra gaurds cubicle for operation from there or in need of security. There are then a first coach with a formation of two more which share bogies, and then a double bogied dirver brake, battery first and second class trailer. This houses recirculative braking to charge its batteries which are in turn used to provide most of the ETS for journeys, being charged from ETS head power at terminii and depots prior to journeys.  I fancy usiung APT style hydrokinetic drum turbine brakes on the three middle cars, and having a battery pack in the first TSO to provide emergency tilt power and shunt / recovery power to the locomotive power car in event of power unit failure. The TR would be a Voyager style buffet car. The whole thing is a five car set but in effect when operated as pairs the sets would be shorter than a 10 car HST, more like a rake of 8 mrk threes witha single Cl 47 loco such that they fit most all platforms across the main line network. There would also be provision to dump the "DVTs" ie trailer driver push pull cars, and merge two setts with two common TSOs thus increasing seating capacity and areodynamics.

I envisage this being a dual mode set by design, such that one of the TSO is actually a MSO when using either 25kv or in a third rail variant. I can also imagine that every car could carry a battery pack allowing for fully hybrid operations such that short stretches like the run to Lincoln from the ECML, or around non overhead sections in London and other cities, could be achieved  without switching the Power unit on, or swithcin it off indeed to reduce emissions in cities which is becoming a big issue in terms of particulates and low level ntirous oxide in particular. With a power car and an electric motor vehicle in formation, hybrid power could also provide additional tractive effort on stopping serrvices or on notorious gradients like the Lickey bank, the Manchester Vic exit or the Glasgow QS tunnel.

As with the 220s the aim is not always to be running at top speed to reduce journey times, but to be decreasign the need to brake and pick uip by a given percent factor on curve sections such as the transpennine or Scottish routes. a 20% average improvement in speed through curves equates on some routes to a significantly better route time because of the electro mechanical qualities of motive power and also this uses less fuel due tp the large reduction in acceleration required coming out of curved sections, and avoiding field diversion cutting in when slowing down for a curved section.

Making trains which tilt rather than straightening lines is really the only practical solution to the demand for faster services, that and diverting freight services to slower  routes to greatly improve high speed capacity. However the conservatives like many very left wing governments have bought into HS2 and its vast expense, in order to feed the city of london with a new breed of super commuter and render Manchester, Brimingham and Derby suburbs to the great big smoke. It is not hoardes of investors and SMEs fighting for tommorrows new super App or mobile device they are really trying to achieve, but rather to facilitate access to credit for minor banks and supply the stock market and other finanical institutions with more bright people who would otherwise be priced out of living in London at what they want to pay them. HS2 is not a great opportunity to revitalise the North, it is an admission and surrender to the power of the financial industry node that London has become, and the need to have a bigger populace to feed it beyond its current leafy confines in the home counties. In terms of facilitating more branch offices and sub suppliers in the North, this is probably basing tommorrow's strategy on yesterday's business culture. Very shortly it will not matter about where you work, or being able to press the flesh more than once a month if at all, it will be what you can super duper do from broad band anywhere, Business will not be done over Claret and Stilton lunches in the Strand, or by miliatary style departments regimented by sergeant majors, it will be conducted on merit and in Cyberspace more and more.,  Also HS2 may be so expensive to travel on that the benefit of Brimingham becoming a suburb with cheaper house prices than Surbiton is eradicated with the sky high price of a season ticket.

Politically zand economically what we need is more regional intra connectivity, and inter non SE region connectivity,  Leeds Manchester, Liverpool Newcastle, Aberdeen Glasgow, Inverness Edinburgh, Plymouth Bristol. We need shorter journey times and to compete on getting people from their suburbian homes to other city centres and round about festooned industrial estates far quicker than the car will achieve in todays conjestion. People need to be able to give up their rubbish local job and be able to hop on a train and within 40 mins arrive at a new, better paid job in a city centre. Cars in cities like Leeds and Manchester are becoming increasinly obsolete for travel to the centres during rush hours from the commuter belts or between each city. We have the opportunity in the NW and Scotland to dump many of the stupid stopping services and run intercity non stop services which make it really easy to go centre to centre, while even beating car journey times when the destination is outside the city centre. For all the transpennine routes and the Scottish routes this is achievable with class 67 and 68 today, but could be made even faster with tilting services

The entire fleet of protoype APTs cost a piddling 74 million pounds, and despite all the bad press, thousands of travellers enjoyed faster services on intercity 225 and therafter, pendolinos from direct application of the technologies proven in the prototype fleet of trains. Little known to may outside the rail industry, is that the 225s could be converted to tilting, and the Pendelinos were built by Fiat traction originally, who bought out many patents from BRE in the 1980s in order to speed up travel on the twisting routes in Italy. Class 800 is a good solution for replacing 225s and may be a passable 'reach' solution for Cardiff, Swansea and Hull, but the real sweet spot is to have tilting express diesel trains  in terms of benefit for money invested. We also need to be considering where emissions happen rather than how much per average mile travelled, and incentivise dual mode and battery hybrid technologies such rolling stock remains flexible and helps meet the demands for cleaner air in our urban areas, while also reducing our over all CO2 footprint if the climatologists not paid for by the oil and coal industry prove of course to be right,.

mandag 23. mai 2016

Tantalising Tractors ....More What If? Locos

A couple of thought occurred to me when the smooth metals and third rail of the SR came to mind. Not a stranger to the RK derived 10 inch by 12 power units by any means, with the two Bulleid prototypes being commissioned for the long flat lines of kent, sussex and surrey. Not least also the some near sixty years of class 73 operations and over 20 of the thumpers. The Bulleid-EE prototypes would for better or worse influence phase one of dieselisation with their 1Co-Co1 configuration. Also that type 3 power levels could be entrusted with even 110mph services !

The final stub ended prototype was delivered as a type 4, setting the mould for the order of 200 of their lumbering, whislting off spring at 133 tonnes. At this point in time then we see the SVT power unit with 125hp per cylinder, which in a v12 is the magical 1500hp type 3. Later it was a purely artificial and arbitary derating to push the bruwh type ii into that category btw. So what about a series 1 fleet of v12 SVTs with co-co and noses ?

It would have taken extraordinary foresight to envisage that the traffic for type 1s and 2s would dwindle in the coming decade, and die in the 1970s.  However the signs were there with the post war road revolution being more the csuse of the demise of economic viability of many branch lines and tiddley services, with Beechings being the messenger of ill wind, all be him partisan with a brother in law at the helm of none other than Tarmac Ltd. Four of the  five v16 prototypes were all type threes, which were entrusted with a range of express and  heavy services and paired  for prestigious trains like the Royal Scot - given the teething problems and short service interval of deltics maybe both EE and BR-ER would have been bettr served by this "American" practice anyway.

  The SR themselves would have both the need and foresight to order the sulzer based type 3 in order to meet their needs for ETH and offer superior speed and power to their underpowered straight six cousins. Type 3 would become a more suitable power for the types of freight business which became prevalent by the late 60s, and if you include the numbers from the 'almost a three' class 31, then the type three was more proliferate than type 4s rated under 2500hp. Type 3 is ideal for 250 - 400 tonne trains, which themselves today are no longer deemed economic as fayre paying traffic. 500- 1000 tonnes? , just double them up. Bar the sad decision on oil sloshing 'diesel hydraulics' and resulting drmise of the Hymeks, the other three classes outlived their inferior little sisters and nearly all of the type 4s, bar the ubiquitous down rated 'duff', and continue inuse as departmental and hire locos over the entire network.

If the usefulness of type 3 had been recognised in the early 1950 and the chance to run lighter weight locos with 4 less cylinders than their type 4 cousins seized, then surely this would have meant the following- a 1500 hp SVT LMR , ER and maybe ScR nosed, disc indicating, standard buffer beam co-co and larger orders of the sulzer-crompton across the same regions in addition to the SR. One would hope then that the same decision that belay the 40 and gave us a 1954 loco still being produced in 1965 would not befall the CSVT order , and rather coinversely that a c.1670hp intercooled sulzer would also happen!

Spectacular as D6700s could be in the hands of a driver keen for extra tea time on the WHL or up a welsh coal valley, they probably spent far more time singing away on notch 6 and 7 not 8 , thus putting out around 1400-1550 hp. SVT power through a 1956 deltic style commonwealth co co bogie although less spectacular, would be fully capable. At a light of fancy we could say that EE may keep up with the 8LDA of the 'shreddie' and rate the loco at 1550hp with an SR option for ETH.  An order of 100 in 1955 ?

A 1956-60 operational 'sub syphon' could have found use on the steam vacs of SR's then numerous boat trains and the Mule route to Exeter. But its home land would no doubt have become that of the re-engines brush type ii, which may never have been built in numbers due to this competitor, and its big sister D200 fleet. Perhaps they would have been despatched also to work the Highland line out of Haymarket aloing side their contingent of the v16 sisters. I  think that the v12 would have precipitated larger orders for the 1750 hp CSVT with perhaps a 2000hp variant as early as 1960. Also with the advent of 25kv towards  the north and Scotland, perhaps the body would have had a 16 SVT plonked in it, no boiler needed for freights or ETH power on the un wired WCML?

Early EE drawings of their actual type 3, the D6700s, show a smallish presumably four cylinder ETH generator along the side of the boiler area, thus being dual heat, although it doesnt look like anything bigger than a small lorry engine of that time , maybe 180 hp.

That brings us to the other fantasy type 3 of say a 1958 delivery to BR. What if they decided to plonk a single deltic 18 into this type of Co-Co body shell ? With a smaller generator for ETH?  Maybe even a non turbo t9 which could supply train boost amps power as well as enough for the 33 and 66 ETH ratings. Why not ? Apart from the CoBo, the baby Deltics were the most ludicrous of all the initial phase 1 diesels, with a tuebo power unit yet untried in rail application and a heavy body work defying the purpose of such a light motor. Napier and EE never actually promised more than 2000 hrs between overhauls, which means a strip down of the whole engine, so really the power units should never have seen the light of day in a humble work horse type 1 whose life would be spent in perpetual short thermal cycles best suited to lower speed marine derived units. More likely then, given the madness of the days, that there be offered a single T-18 deltic at 2200hp as a light weight alternative to the peak classes and the pedestrian D200s.

Thew concept of a 'multi use' body shell and bogie layout should not have been lost at this time. The LMS's prototype diesels were very heavy but had a lot of uneccessary weight in them like over engineered bulkeheads, buffer beams and bogie frames taken in design pretty directly from steam engine proportions. Hence the extra jockey wheels of thew bulleid design being specified. By the early fifties EE were producing lighter weight designs for export, culminating with the super light for so much power in Deltic. A standard design of body could have been used as a co-co of RA5 to Ra7 for different end purposes with different power units, most other equipment being standard onto , as became more or less, standard bogie design.

Common sense at BRB-BTC as well as production capacity at EE, Brush  and BRCW were lacking in the 1950s unfortunetly however. Ironially enough, the phase II type 4s would prove to be in many ways to be inferior to their simpler and usually more reliable 1Co-Co1 predecessors. In fact though, bar the Hynek, the 33, 37 and re-engined 31 were all actually phase 1 orders, being placed before the review which would render everything twin window, slab end for the next  quarter century until the advent of "skips". The diesel electric type 3s of course out lasted all the other phase I locos. Hindsight is a fine thing, but surely double as many 3s would have been only a positive develoment.

mandag 1. februar 2016

Railway Economics and the Failure of the UK Privatisation

There is a campaign group in the UK called 'Bring Back British Rail' - does what it says on the box, so to speak.... Of course many deride this as nostalgia and even a bunch of old communists, but the group is far from being cranks. The UK rail industry has basically failed to improve passenger value via privatisation, due in many observer's opinion to the slighly cowardly decisions made by the John Major government. There was no real element of competition on the majority of routes, while the rail regulator became a toothless paper tiger. Companies exert massively above inflation fair increases, especially for season tickets which are the milk cow for the TOCs in the South East.

Many old timers and Tory true blue believers hark back to the time of the Big Four railway companies in the pre war era, when the glory of private investment, management and market pricing ruled with a whisp of steam and the smell of grease and burning coals. GWR, SE, LNER and LMS. To a small extent some of these routes and passenger lines were reborn into private monopolies of course. Only now they are not monopolies. Back then in the late nineteenth to mid twentieth century, the railway was a virtual monopoly in several different markets for getting from A to B efficiently. Private cars were expensive relative to average incomes, and not very reliable per hundred mile travelled, with short distances for services relative to today. Roads suffered from being based often on the old radial routes which connected towns and villages to the metropolises with many junctions at each node. Pre motorway commuting must have been a nightmare, despite there being relatively few cars on the road. What the big four had was a monopoly on fast, affordable transport for both passenger and freight in their respective regions or corridors ( freight being not really considered here in particular as the market to some extent is more competitive)

Looking back at the big four is using both rose tinted spectacles and also a good deal of naive, wishful thinking on how such a set up could exist today. The Uk in particular is littered not only with relics of the Beechings related cuts, but also old private lines which went bankrupt. By the late 19th century, Railways in the UK had become the internet of their day. This is a more literal relation than you may at first think, because railways facilitated much of the transport in the economy and rapid movement of mail and money. Like the internet, the sector became a bubble which burst and dozens of small railways went bust and either succumbed to being part of the big 4 under the 1921 railways act,  or simply dissoleved into being mere farm tracks.

One other legacy of the huge confidence of investors in the late 19th century followed by a more look warm scenario into the 20th century was that a huge deal of the track bed and even track itself, the very infrastructure, was Victorian and remained so during WWII. Longevity or durability is not unique to the railway, but a rather spartan attitude was taken to rail replacement. As late as the 1960s when the 3300 hp deltic fleet were introduced to operate at 100mph, there were still several sections of the East Coast Main Line which were basically victorian and demanded a 30 mph speed limit.

Post war on the one side the railway was of course bombed and so on, but also much of it was neglected and in a dire state. Given the repair bill and the debts acrued during the requistion of the railways in the 1940s, nationalisation was the only real means of progress to avoid a total financial and service collapse.

Nationalisation involved changing things....not very dramatically at first. The Great Western Region and Southern Region carried on under much the same management structures as before. Scotland became a natural region as did the old LNER mainstay of the east coast, while the west midlands and north west followed after a mix of London Midland and Scottish and LNER, with Midland region taking the north home counties and middle bits towards derby, Nottigham and Brum.

  Regionality removed large amounts of competition but at the same time there were some routes of course which were still rivals. Some Southern Region routes competed with GWR routes into London for commuters, and indeed the SR  Exeter route at one point was quite competitive in journey times to the Bristol route. The main competition was of course between the three main north - south arteries of ECML, WCML and Midland Line, with the later being somewhat sidelined with the restrictive size of St Pancreas compared to the new Euston and Kings Cross stations.

Through the sixties and seventies, the two main routes to Scotland competed for the cash income of those travelling to and from terra caledonia. The aforementioned Deltic services to Scotland and the NE, were actually a planned stop gap before the envisaged electrification of the line, while of course the WCML was electrified with overhead 25 kv lines progressively through to completion to Glasgow Central in 1974.

The post war infrastructural renewal aside, these routes in particular were expected to pay their way forward and contribute profitably in both freight and passenger income to the Railway. It could be said that both routes had their hayday in the late 1970s when intercity 125 sets on the ECML were operational and the fastest expresses on WCMl made london in under fiver hours from Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively. The Railway was most concerned about competition not from at that time flights but from of course motorways.  To extend the utility of the major WCML route, with its larger coverage or interconnectivity of major connurbations when compared to the ECML, the corporation for want of a better term, decided to adapt trains to the curves and came up with the revolutionary APT which has influenced and been largely copied by tilting train designers the world over, and influenced much of the advanced speed of 140mph run for some years on the ECML.

The class 370 prototype fleet, a kind of beta test of its day, were only reallly let down by three factors, two of them to do with private suppliers letting them down 1) The dynamic braking fluid was not available in time for the winter launch , so there were problems with viscosity and freezing  2) the very basic design of final friction brakes, dating to Rocket type designs, was built with components out of tolerance and just badly made by a private work shop  3) the rate of tilt was shown to induce motion sickness in passengers, somethign which could have been designed out and of course has been for the "pendolinos". 

The six train sets were a proof of concept which had one foot a bit too firmly in prototype land. In any case, Thatcher was keen on selling off British Airways, righly so, and saw that a three hour London to Glasgow rail route would likely outcompete the shuttle with the then hour or so out on the tube or cab ride to Heathrow.APT was shelved, but continued to be an experimental train through to at least 1984. Just over a decade later and Richard Branson was running trains based very much on the design and on the ground breaking operational and safety work the sets provided to the international industry.

The APT aside, British Rail managed several huge achievements. Firstly there was the rebuilding post war and the planning in the 1950s for a modern railway network, the beechings inspired rationalisation in the motor car age, the removal of all steam power by the late 1960s, the achievement of sustainable 100mph operation on WCML and ECML, the rationalisation of the ill concieved purchase of over 40 diesel locomotive types down to less than half tha, the electrifiication of the WCML and the Glasgow metropolitan area, the introduction of the intercity 125 to ECML, WR and later MR, the electrification of  the ECML, sectorisation and increased tractive power for freight, the introduction of efficient third generation diesel and electric multiple units..... The private railway has one main achievement and that is ironically, the introduction of tilting trains to regular passenger services.

Back to economics. We have a history of the British Railways in about four main chunks to date...... which begins with fanfare and a rush to invest in this new means of communication in the Victorian era, followed by the economic realities of what we call today "income model" and actual returns on that investment via capital gains and dividends....then the shake up with WWI when the railway was comandeered for troop and supply chain to armaments and the subsequent 1921 railway "Big Four" act....then WWII and 1947 when the Big Railway was born.....then the ill fated privatisation by the John  Major government.

Ill fated? Oh most definetly on just about every measure of utility to the paying passenger. Also on the frieght side, the private companies received several hundred new locomotives just bought by the public purse, at a knock down rate by accepting also to buy the older locos....which were already by in large rationalised and refurbished from their 1960s over engineered , sturdy design.

The main measures you can look up are grouped as follows, the figures are disputed a bit in terms of what inflation means in the railways and so on, and what constitutes operational subsidy, but this is the score>

1) Passenger Fair Increases Above RPI
2) Seating Capacity over the late 90s to 2008 in particular
3) Punctuality is decreasing now across many TOCs
4) Rolling stock has been replaced at a slow pace as the life cycle of the third generation multiple units, carriages and freight locos comes to an end
5) Public subsidy to the operational railway has increased above inflation
6) Railtrack had to be renationalised and is also a subsidised hole for tax payers money

The unfortunate fact has been clear since before 1900. Railways are very capitally intensive, and it is incredibly difficuylt to get ROI if you dont have a monopoly over not just rail route, but time effective transport in a corridor. This is just not the case for the vast majority of rail routes. How would the 'glorious big 4' have faired with the competition from motorways and later cheap flights ? Train operating companies have had to fall back on three streams of income - the poor commuter, the routes which are faster than flying and driving, and those who cant or wont fly. Beyond this in terms of making a profit, the TOCs need to hunt subsidy, The former of these three
passenger group is a literally captive audience around the Capital. Much of Londons middle class suburbia grew up around the new SE electric railway routes, and people lived within walking distance of a station. Now with conjestion into the capital, these poor blighters are the cash cow of the TOCs. They have them by the short and curlies because if they leave their season ticket year, they risk more conjestion by their own numbers.

There could have been alternative competition based privatisation models, which John Major dared not take up, but we come back to the fact that railways are capitally intensive in terms of rolling stock and track renewal, which are two demands the safety authority must lay down, while there is a finite and often limited capacity at rush hour when most money is to be made in getting people from both near and wide into the metropolii. Competition on routes like deregulating busses, has a market pain barrier which it must go through when less efficient operators fall to the side. There is also a huge degree of either redundancy or just using the same common sub supplier in terms of stabling rolling stock outside peak demand, maintaining rolling stock, and operating staff transport etc, Eventually on a route there would probably be one dominant operator, a single source of all repairs and stabling and a smaller second operator. There would be then a virtual monopoly on many routes where capacity in terms of the lines, terminus platforms and stabling & maintenance does not favour anything near the conditions for a free market.

The concept should not be completely dead, though, even when infrastructure is largely public owned. It is just very hard to make both competition work and to allow for return on investment and dividends without rail route monopolies.