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.

torsdag 17. desember 2015

Real Trains for Tommorrow. The Hitachi Super Express - Is this HST-2 ?

Hitachi seem to be rather the Doyen of private rail operators and Network Rail after the success of the Chunnel route 140mph dual electric mode high speed trains. Now they are the builders for the replacement to HST, the venerable intercity 125 and its two re-enigned encarnations. But how will the new train measure up to the legacy of the iconic HST which not only saved the image of BR, but made it a force to be reckoned with into the 1980s before the ideologistic and rather bad privatisation?

Firstly it is a dual mode, or electro diesel with a version which will be ECML electric only and retro de-fitting to that status. This says quite a lot about the betting the government are doing now through the renationalised Network Rail scheme for electrification to Bristol and beyond. Dual mode train sets will be ideal as the wires stretch their way westward, we presume., with the Severn Tunnel being the main question mark for further development into Wales. A dual mode train like this will be able to cover the gap as it declines without the need for time consuming diesel locomotive hook ups, or as would be more likely on today's fragmented and under-resourced railway, passengers being kicked off nice new electric trains and hearded onto what ever was available to bridge the gap. So in comparing it to HST IC 125, then it is so much a different beast and offers such an environmental benefit that it should be a worthy successor, But wil it fulfill either of these two goals in taking over the mantle of high speed, west country and east coast trunk and major branch routes from the IC 125, and is it so Carbon friendly?

Despite the bullshit and misleading comparisons made by some PR companies for the motor & road lobby, carbon emissions and in particular particulate emissions per passener mile are much better for modern diesel trains than car journeys. When you take lack of conjestion and predictable journey times into account, diesel trains are more efficient than buses on similar routes like say London Bristol. Electric trains are way and above that until you get into very high speed trains over over 225 kmh / 140 mph when their use of energy gets heftier. Also of course it can be argued that the source of that power has to be carbon neutral and the building of the train should be low environmental impact. Does a dual mode achieve this in a 125 mph package and the answer is not really but ok, yes a bit.

The reason is that for this train there has been made the choice of using a series of up to 5 underslung power units to be suppied by MTU, now in a quirk of English Industrial Revenge for Ruston Paxmans, are owned by Rolls Royce. These ' power packs' are an inefficient means of deliverying enough power to run at 125 mph as we have already seen with the 220s and the 222s. In HST you have two prime mover, power units in locomotives at each end which weigh only about 74 tonnes. You then have two diesel main tanks, two alternators and power comntrol-supply chains, and two cooling systems per train. Now 5 smaller units equate to more than this because each still has to have fueling, electrical systems and cooling, plus traction motors. The engines to be used are v12 just under a thousand horsepower each, which means that the five will be approximately the same total power as the HST twin power car, head and tail arrangement but with more weight and more points of servicing. You start to understand why the option to de-fit these in light of on going electrification is.

Secondly to this is the performance - even if 25kv wires go out to Cardiff, you will still have significant west country routes to Exeter and Plymouth eventually Penzance, which have many sections of 125mph running. If the option for less than 3600 hp per train set is taken, then on these routes the timetables will be slower than IC125. The full five power pack array along the train will probably get up to around that speed, but there are disadvantages in diluting out power at the kind of output in the 500 to 2700 kw range because you lose amps quicker with less powerful indivdual power units than with larger, torqueyer if that is a word, power units.

On the ECML though with the routes to Hull via Lincoln and perhaps Scarborough and Sunderland/ Middelsborough and other excursions east and west of the main line, this type of train may come into its own because the running on sections off the main line are not all that fast and generally it is judged good business to have quite a few stoppingn stations to widen the catchment per train. The same can also be said of the routes north to Aberdeen and Inverness.

However I think the only border these trains will be crossing is that on the severn river, and not even the proud Cornish border at the Tamar. I think that these trains in their electro-diesel guise will stretch with the wires to Bristol and provide short end services to certainly Cardiff and likely Gloucster and maybe Worcster or Hereford. Unless there is a punative 'diesel under the wires' Eco-levvy then zings will probably continue to run the longer distance services all the way to Paddington. The new trains and their private owners are far too good for Northerners and Socialist Scots, so the Tories will be pleased to see them running privately into London terminii, while the North of the UK get well, Glasgow Edinburgh via Falkirk G , maybe even not now, and "Northshire" gets rid of its pacers, presumabkly with old sprinters from somewhere. Finally privatisation will look shiny and good, just turn a blind eye to the subsidies being way over what was paid to BR in the 1980s.

The new . sleek train in my honest opinion has missed two main opportunities. One is that it could have been a tilting train and thus shaved time off twistier routes, or used its horse power and carbon footprint less wastefully by not slowing down and accelerating so much. Secondly it could have had locomotive power cars which would have secured 125 mph and higher speed running while also being even easier to render redundant or move onto other services. Or even repurpose to freight or mixed traffic with twin end cabs if high speed head and tail is no longer needed.

Personally diesel multiple units have always underwhelmed me. Firstly modern design meant that they crammed more passengers into fewer coaches, and then in the 170-182 types, they shoved bikes and wheel chair users into a nasty medley mid train while also providing far too much space to doorways. Secondly of course, they are often irritatingly noisy due to the relatively powerful underfloor engines and their need to be 'trashed' to simply get the train rolling. Compared to the quaint mrk 1 compartment favourites of ours of days gone by (even though we secretly preferred the newer, comfier and often cleaner mark II a and c stock) are just a museum side show now. The gentle click clacking, the subtle tungsten bulb lighting and the partial privacy of the 'compo' were replaced abruptly by the stark strip light open coach of the sprinter on the west highland line and many other routes, together with the irritating burr of those cummin engines making a right meal out of going slower than the loco hauled trains they replaced. DMUs are purely an accountants wet dream, and purely with the bad hindsight of BR having about 20 different diesel locos in passenger service, while the rose tinted foresight of both reliability and passengers liking them. Occupancy is up, but total seating is down. Nearly all timetables I have been on are slower under DMU and seem to be less reliable than under loco hauled. The flexibility of being able to extend services by one coach at a time, or take cheap mothballed stock out  for footexs or super long trains for peak times, are gone, as the private railway has tried to keep its availability low in relation to potential demand, and stick with actual demand. In fact it has been ten years  since I took a diesel train in the UK, having mostly been on electric routes. The last one was either a 182 into london from Slough, or a 170 to and from Aberdeen to Glasgow, the latter being a cramped journey with little comfort in the new seating. My last trip on the WHL was in 2000 when I decided that the bus to Oban and Ft william was more comfortable and pretty much well as scenic than those god awful 156s. I was on a 222 I think up to Leicster and it was suprisingly niosy and cramped too, although it did have rather good ambient lighting. The romance of rail is long since gone for most all travellers, excluding preserved museum type lines, while the very appeal of rail travel in these metro-tram/bus hybrid crosses wanes on me, especially when four of us travelling costs the same as hire car for the week. The lack of main line intergration to Airports is woeful and just pandered to the vested interests for far too long, and exacerbated the move away from rail on the longer routes, at a time when the ECML in particular should have enjoyed unprecedented growth and lower running costs being over head 25kv. The railway , the big railway, has a major part to play in environmentally friendly travel for us all, and it remains to be seen if HST will have a worthy successor

søndag 15. november 2015

More Tantalus Type Trius.....type 3 fantasy concoctions.

The BTC and BRB got it wholly wrong in ordering so many under-powered type 2 locomotives. You can tell me it is easy to say with hindsight, while at the time there were still many branch lines being operated by tank 'kettles' which required no more than type 2 or even just type 1 power to trundle along with their modestr services. However even at the time in the pilot programme it should have been clear from early experience that main line ambitions for the use of single locomotives really required type 3 and up over. They should have also been able to see the growth in the use of the lorry for light, rural mixed freight as a threat to the smaller tonnages that type 2 were invisaged to operate.

Perrcievere they did though, with huge orders being placed for the sulzer based units which became classes 24 through 27, and you can of course really include the EE type 1 class 20 in their ranks. The farce ran so high as to the re-engining of the brush type 2 "class 30" with a derated SVT engine which would have been between 1500 and 1550 hp standard traction rating for EE. Another arbitary de-rating incidentally was the v16 Maybach fitted in the Hymeks which actually had a standard and proven hydaulic traction rating of 1940 hp, but that was outside the actual type three desirable rating oddly enough. A poorly performing class 40 takes a while before it falls into being a type 3 apparently.

On the one end of events in a fantasy diesel scenario, english electric  would have offered a type 3 during the initial phase of dieselisation in the mid to late 1950s. Thus presenting a rival to the southern regions natty new sulzers, the later to become class 33s. This would have used in a 1956 scenario, the SVT variant of the engine in a body very similar to the eventual class 37, but with disk train indicator system. It would be light enough in design of course to be a CoCo, or potentially an AIA configuration. This loco would have undoubtedly proven its worth, as did the reliable EE engined class 31s, and BRB may have ordered a job lot of them, not being tempted away by the charge air cooled variant which was available from about 1958, essentially when D200 was delivered. However in fact we may then have been stuck with a smaller class of less impressive locos than the class 37, with the 37 maybe never happening until slab front ends came along, if at all.

Already by 1960 EE offered BR an uprated CVST class 40 (probably on CoCo with a medium body length) or the full 2000hp rating of the 12CSVT in the 37 format perhaps as a higher value, shorter maintenance interval loco for the types of express and semi fasts forties were allocated. In fact which ever way you look at it, 40s were a bit quicker on express services of upto 400 tonnes because they have higher gearing, more momentum, ra6 axle loadings and 250 more horse power while actually only hauling an additional quarter of a carriage difference in weight over a 'syphon'. Conversely their high gearing, greater inertia and slower pick up on the power unit via stepped control meant that they were a lot more pedestrian on stopping services where acceleration counts more than performance in the third field diversion.

An early first series dieselisation EE type 3 at 1500/1550 hp would have performed probably very similarly to a class 31 and rather like a sick class 37 ( eg 37108 and 37025 in 1982/84). An alternative to this option at the time of the baby deltic order, would have been a single 18 cylinder deltic lump rated at 1650 hp as it was in 'deltic' at the time, or a fully possible T12 version of the arrangement with turbo. While considering the same body and CoCo configuration of the EE type 3, you could fit a 24 cylinder deltic engine in there, and run as a type 4 with a rating of around 2200hp @1500rpm non turbo. In fact EE could have offered the Syphon G body and bogies as standard with a choice of power units as follows (by 1960):

1) Low maintainance 1500 hp SVT
2) 1500 hp T12
3) 1650 hp deltic 18
4) 1750 hp /1850* hp 12CSVT
5) 2000 hp high maintenance 12CSV
6) 2000hp 16 SVT forty compatible equipment , no boiler
7) 2200 hp T18 deltic
8) 2350 hp / 2700 hp 16 CSVT non bolier, but with ETH

* 1850 hp had been the standard rating for several export versions of the new CVST engine and 1750 was an arbitary down rating from 'full' marine rating of the CSVT in 1959 when the engines were ordered.

I have had a couple of folk state that the v16 would never have been fitted or could never have been fitted into a 'syphon G'. Firstly the size would most likely indeed proclude a boiler, but in fact of course the majority of 37s were delivered "NB" with the stonehouse boilers ordered for them mainly going into Brush type 4s at the time.
As anyone who has been through the engine room of a non boilered (never boilered) syphon will tell you, there is a large plinth of concrete which had to be installed to balance the locomotives in lieu of the boiler. Drivers referred to this as the 'band stand'. People further argue about the weight of a v16 espeically a CSVT version even without a boiler. However just a couple of years later, EE of course produced the Portugues class 1800 which are 108 tonnes, and in fact a 12CSVT was fitted in a 79 tonne meter gauge loco in the late 50s for export. The bogies' would probably need upgrading to class 50 / 55 standard but that is not a great difference in cost given the benefit of having a standard body over several power ratings and units. EE offered basically a stretched class 37 with the CSVT engine  @2350 hp, instead of further orders of the type 4 with 16 wheels. BRB in their folly declined this offer, stating that they wanted to continue with standard locomotives, which with hindsight seems rather short sighted when already the deltics had supplaced the D200s on the key ECML expresses and the ubiquitous 12LDA would push them almost into irrelevance had it not been for the D200s reliability and RA 6 rating. 2350 hp at under 120 tonnes all up weight with EE's higher voltage system favouring total acceleration speed, would have made for an impressive passenger and even heavy frieght (of the day )locomotive, pretty much well as capable as the rather lumbering 'peaks' with their massive tonnage. It has to be noted that Dp2 in fact produced significantly more horse power upto 25 miles an hour or so than a deltic which hauls on one engine up to approximately this speed, and when fitted with the KV10 load regulator, the light weight locomotive ( under 110 tonnes) prove exceedingly competent under taxing gradients and on express services.

Deltic power units would have been prohibitive for a mixed traffic class however due to their disliking for thermal cycling on start-stop services. Any of the above mentioned though would have been a hell of a lot of fun in a 37 body shell, with perhaps the most likely being a T18 being fitted into a sub class for operating lighter services on the WCML ahead of the advancing electrification in the 70s.

Sulzers  Wonderful 8 LDA engine should Get a Word in Edge Ways!!

Yet another rather tantalising option for type 3 fans in the initial period of short batch trials in the late 50s would have been an RA5 dual heat version of the southern region Sulzer type 3. This would have had to have three axeled bogies to accomodate the length and weight the boiler necessitated but it would have probably come in at around the same as the Brush type 2 and the 37. You could envisage this being a very useful bit of kit for depots already home to many 6LDA and 12 LDA locos who required some more grunt for semi fasts, light expresses and medium weight freights. Indeed so useful that an allocation to ScR would probably have negated the need for the reintroduction of the class 37 in the early eighties for the W. highland and Far North routes.

A little known fact I have  mentioned before is that the class 33 is in fact fitted with an engine with the same per cylinder rating as the class 24 and class 26 ie 1160 hp in their case, 1550 for the 33. This means that the loco could have been fitted with the intercooled 8LDA as a variant or from BREL as indeed the 25s and 27s were in effect. At 1700 hp in either a BoBo or on six axles, the loco would have been impressive, and in terms of the former of those two, it would probably have outrun just about anything on the rail network to 20 mph at least.

While on the topic of sulzer and their better power units (the 12LDA and 6 LDA suffering in build quality by them sub contracting out work and getting the whole 2750 hp rating build wrong on the 'duffs') the LVA units prove successful with in particular SNCF. They rated the 12 down to 2200 and even as low as 2000 hp, but there was also a v8 variant which picked up some type three ratings in its somewhat limited application. Given the 12 LVA was rated at 2650 and maybe a max 2750 in SNCF days, the 8 LVA would have come in at around 1800 hp if it was to be used in line with the much debated class '48' duffs which were not so duff. The LVA series was significantly lighter and more modern than the 1930s style twin bank 12 LDA lumps. The wee v8 is not bigger or heavier than in fact the 8 CSVT fitted to the portugeuse and the Irish bobo locos, so it could have been shoe horned into a class 33 shell, or of course just plonked into a class 31 body at least, or  a class 47 body shell to produce an RA 5 type 3 loco.
The 12 LVA sounded like a mad cross between a forty and an HST, whistling at idle and run up before shreiking as the revs came on. The 8 probably was much the same, just a third less so!

Just had a thought, suppose all the duffs were converted to 12 LVAs after the LDA   @2750 failure, and then say type two body shells are used with the v8, which would stll allow for room for the boiler?  The 8 LVA could then in theory be rated at upto 2000 hp being half a kestrel in practice. Presumably also a straight eight version could have been available with a rating above 1700hp. Essentially it is a very different engine, more so than say the RK 6 shunter EE unit is to the eventual 'slug' 6RKT.

While on air charge cooling, BRB could have thrown out their silly ideas of using the SVT further down rated and demanded that brush present a new loco to take the now proven 12 CSVT / probably a CoCo version of the 31. Ludicrous:? Well the class 47 very nearly had a cousin or contender which would have had the 16 CSVT engine in it as stipulated by BRB.

Beyond 1000 rpm......

The one higher speed engine tantalus I think many would like to have seen on BR, would be the diesel electric version of the Hymek. I rather think this may have been kept bobo but run without a boiler to keep weight down, but a CoCo would have been RA5. The germans ran at least one class as a variant to their populace v16 maybach single unit locos and they prove as reliable.

On to another new option is that by the mid 1960s Paxman were able to offer their v16 at over 2000 hp and their v12 was probably rateable at a type three level by then, soon to be included in the prototype HST at a higher again rating in the ventura v12 format. They had been run at this time in high thermal cycling environments being fitted to the ScR class 29, which achieved a reliability akin to other sulzer type 2s allegedly with these new power units replacing the NB built MAN designs. I rather like the idea that WR never had to get rid of their oil sloshers and that they ordered a fully british ventura v12 based type 3 AIA loco with dual brakes and an auxially diesel generator to take hydraulics into the 1980s and beyond. While ER would take a bobo type three to work end to end on sleeper services on the ECML and potentially on the freightliner container services during the daytime. A fully rated version then being used as a recovery loco for failed HSTs and other express trains on the ECML.

Finally while on the WR, it seemed odd that no one came up with a twin engined type 3 with two 800/900 hp units in it working two torque convertor transmissions, thus allowing for 1. redundancy / limping home or working light services on on PU. 2) piggy backing at gear changes as the westerns did, one bogie continuing in drive as the other declutches and changes gear.

Crazy, or the Brush of a Pen Stroke Away?

Of all these crazy notions what do I think the most likely to have ever seen the light of day been?

Top runners for production classes would actually have to be none of my favourites per se but>

short production runs and prototypes

1500hp early disk display syphon 12 SVT
1650 hp deltic syphon trial Deltic 18
2200 hp deltic syphon trial T18
1600-2000hp twin engined DH or DE on bobo


1500hp AIA class 31s / a silly 30 hp short

1700 hp Class '34' 8 LDA SR / WR ETH loco

1600/1800 hp v 12 Ventura single unit Bo Bo Diesel Hydraulic

1600 / 1800 hp ""    ""    ""    ""     "" 

Why these into production?  Well the first one is a no brainer, it was either an arbitary derating to conform to type 2 banding or Brush could have been asked to tweak 14 kw more out of their electric transmission without having bust a gut.

Also the second one seems to be the most likely of any sulzer option because 1( the 33s were successful early on 2) BR liked the straight LDA format a lot in its air charged cooled variant, they had hundreds and hundreds of the darn things and parts are largely standard to the 12 LDA. It could have ended up in an extention to the 33 order or in say a BREL AIA streched class 25. IMHO there should have been wide scale cancellation of all these vermin and upgrading to either the 8LDA or moving over to ruther orders for 12 CSVT.

I think also that an early to mid sixties vision of the folly of type 2 while the success of the paxman in the warship showed the way, an alternative to the v16 maybach may have arisen in a v12 1500 hp / 1800 hp ventura, thus allowing for the class 52 to be a true type 5 and 100mph operator by using twin venturas and thus making a standard set up for the higher horse power locos in these two brackets, with the Maybach and MAN warships scheduled for retirement or reeingining with the venturas over time.  A V12 ventura is probably also ligher than the Hymeks v16 so that they could be weighted down as an RA 5 loco.

DE ventura based versions may have come later either via the class 29 experience or by the HST programme and proposed tail/end freightliner high speed container services.

If you think any of this is really so very crazy, super deltic single unit syphon included at the fringe end, then think again about what the BTC / BRB actually did. It ordered the CoBos and the Baby Deltics. It allowed western region to have completely non standard locos to the rest of the system and little standardisation within those! It stipulated that locomotives which could have been built to 119 tonnes (class 40) and 128 tonnes (peaks) should be instead fitted with vastly heavy plate sided 1Co-Co1 bogies to 'spread the weight'. Superdeltics were on the drawing board. Deltic HST power cars were also penned with this  2200hp T18 in them.  A class 30 was uprated to 2000 hp experimentally with air charged cooling. EE built the C1800s for Portugal at 108 tonnes......

Why Was Truth Stranger than (my) Fiction?

The real problem was two fold. Firstly BTC/BRB rushed over the evaluation phase of the initial prototypes and first series of orders. Technology had also moved forward, basically all the first phase locos were about 1953 technology, while the big advances in air charge cooling came into effect in 1956-1958. Other major advances such as the KV10 load generator and more reliable high speed engines filtered through just a few years later in the early to mid sixties. The left had of the BTC knew fine well that the motorways and four axle truck were going to take light freight off the branch line connections, while the railway side seemed to bury their head in historic figures of light trains needing tiddly little 1000hp to 1250 hp to tinker around with them. They should have seen that the US style of multiple heading was wasteful for the UK system in light of this with type 2s being redundant in their youth,  and opted for more type 3s and 4s. They should have waited longer before ordering classes and stipulating power bands, in order to evaluate types and horse power ratings, while also considering the market for rail transport, in particular the type of frieght which would remain competitive and the emergence of containerisation.

In a sensible world, we would have had CoCo forties and peaks and a lot more syphon Gs and 'bean can' 33s. The uprated 2750 hp 12 LDA should have been rejected upon extended trials of a dozen or so units in favour of the 12 LVA or the 16 CSVT. We would have seen continuing work to uprate the deltic engine in the early 60s to allow for 3800 hp operation with ETH generation in the fleet and for the superdeltic to tackle the WCML and presumably follow the route to displace westerns on the WR. We should have seen uprating trials with the 2000hp v12 CSVT and the 2350 hp v16 for the orders of class 40s post 1960. A full prototyping should have been undergone for the D400 before they were ordered, and the class be standardised to the less out landish equipment with normal oil wetted air intake filters. And we should have seen a fleet of kestrels too on the v16 LVA running express trains in the forefront of expanding electrification and standard 120mph running on most major routes.

Business wise they should have indeed focused on two or three power unit types ( variants with common cylinder and piston units and other common items) from two or three manufacturers, and in terms of worrying about  competition in british industry, directed that primary contractors like BRCW and EE sub contract some components and building of structures to smaller firms like Bayer Peacock and the likes. They could have focused on a big three manufacturer route, those mentioned above, plius BREL when the offering or capacity could not be found. The BTC/ BRB could alternatively have stipulated supply of power units from two or three sources ( sulzer, EE/ruston-paxmans, Maybach Licencee in the UK) with different work shops assembling units, but really that is just not as desirable as a prime design house who create fuilly integrated machines. A counter agrument would be the Class30 to Class 31 upgrade, or the fact that the 6LDA locos could be built to very similar quality over many different workshops, or that EE used RSH for a very large proportion of their capacity outside the Vulcan productiuon.

Today we have not really any less of a crazy situation because rail operators and rolling stock owners invest so sporadically and in self interest that they loose much of the opportunity and will to standardise. New and rather ludicrous emissions standards exclude many from the market for power units which can fit into a loco while being clean enough. The future is uncertain, but without government legislation or a return to more public control and ownership it is unlikely that the nirvanna of standardisation will ever be reached.

torsdag 13. august 2015

Why was 2000 bhp a bridge too far for the EE type 3?

The class 37 was often proposed under powered by type 4 fans, but in fact of course it prove to be a very good horse power rating in keeping the fleets reliability up, and rendering their longevity only as finite as the HGR avoiding private owners would allow. At various points in the 1960s and 70s they hauled the heaviest and longest frieghts in the UK, in multiple admittedly, while also turning out for fairly racey diagrams on the non stop summer Skegnes services amongst others, even working the famous 1S45. However an uprated version of the locomotive was of course not just proposed, but also tried out.

The irony is not lost on us that the original EE general arrangement drawings of the Type 3 (evt Class 37) included a position for a secondary diesel generator, thus rendering the class with dual heat potential on outset. By the mid sixties though, EE were confident enough to offer the loco as a 2000hp performer in a new, flat end cab version similar to the 2050bhp export models which went to the then East Africa. BRB at the time were wise enough to know they were onto a good thing, with type 2s proving underpowered and various lesser types already earmarked for the scrap heap as "non standard".  So the final order for 37s remained standard and some of the best examples of their class to my experience, rolled off the assembly lines in 1964 and 65. Amongst them was one example which would go on to be fairly infamous. 37 292.

I have the pleasure of being hauled by the beast, all be that it was somewhat underperforming, running unevenly on idle and not opening up completely. It did whizz along the Kilmarnock to Ayr route, and further to Stranrær, which in any other year than 1984 would have been a rarity for a 37 in itself!

Scottish depots were pretty bad at under maintaining locos given the demands of damp, occasionally salt water laced conditions, icy and greasy rails and more than a fair share of gradients, curves and variable speeds. It seems 37292 was in a state of "returning soon to works, don't spend any money on it" at ML in 1984 unfortunately. It worked a few times that summer out of Glasgow central, with perhaps only a handful of other passenger workings in the period 1981-83 as a break down recovery loco. Perhaps due to this latter day unreliability, it remained probably the "largest" syphon on ML shed through 1984 and prior to its long booked return to works for HGR and "four-ing" in 1985. (37 137 and a 200 series being pretty rare out on seated rolling stock too it has to be said)

As I blogged before, the evolution of the CSVT to to the RK traction took a little back water via Australia and also 47 601/901. The maximum rating of a "csvt" badged v12 is 2350 b.h.p. in Aus, and despite a single turbo being employed, they still sound decidely CSVT and not V16 jumbojet like. The aussie engine was probably a metric one, but possibly did not get gear driven cams- so together with the thoarty, pulse type turbo exhaust roar then we can presume that this is as far as the CSVT got.  2000 hp was enough out of a v12 from EE/ GEC until 47901 reared its ugly head!

Reports on the electric internet show us to 1981 as the year that a very nicely prepared EX works 292 exited Doncaster on a test train. Given that ETH'ing was carried out toute suite in 1985, then a two year test and evaluation period plus then a two year planning and material procurement period seems about right for 1980s Britain.

It has been said that the alternator alone contributes about another 100 hp efficiency to the system, and with the lower CP4 gearing chosen, the need for 2000hp and possibly a shorter service interval was considered avoidable.  A single 37/4 could be used to pick up the aluminium ingots train at Corpach as against a pair of "zeros" and acceleration on passenger services was by in large not much different, even when producing ETH. Top speed on the other hand.....

 In standard rating the welsh depots and Stratford could keep well on top of valve and timing chain issues with preventative servicing. Miles-Per-Casualty would be interesting to compate with 31s and of course much better than 47s which broke down a lot, having never been able to handle their class wide uprating. So probably a very wise choice to stick to the lovely 1750bhp.