Tuesday, February 11, 2020


The future of railways in many countries around the world is all about moving away from diesel engines towards electrification and innovations in rolling stock and energy supply. Here is a summary state of play.


These are among the results of a 2018 market study “Railway Electrification — Global Market Development” produced by SCI Verkehr GmbH, the international consultancy firm specialized in railway technology and logistics.

Of around 1.3 million km of rail lines worldwide, around 344,000 km are electrified, i.e. just over a quarter. In individual market regions, the degree of electrification varies from 1 percent (North America) to 57 percent (Western Europe). 
The degree of electrification in Asia has risen substantially in the last few years. In 2013 it was still 34 percent, but by 2017 it had reached 47 percent. Besides China’s large investments in both constructing new lines and electrifying diesel lines, India has also been an engine for growth.
The world market for railway electrification continues to grow as sustained investments in Europe and Asia lead to high current market volume [c. EUR 10 billion ($12.38 billion)],as well as growth up to 3-4% per year up to 2022. 
This reflects the trend towards electric mobility in rail transport and the gradual turning away from diesel power. In particular, this market growth is generated by a large number of metro projects as well as intensified electrification of existing diesel lines with growing operational demands. 
The European market is once again growing especially dynamically.  Momentum for the market development up to 2022 will come from the realization of projects in France and Spain which have been partially delayed due to the debt crisis as well as from electrification of diesel lines in Eastern European countries and Scandinavia. The Asian market also continues to grow. China is continuing to invest large sums in electric rail lines.

A major influence on the market volume for electrification comes from projects to construct new lines or upgrading existing ones. Such changes to the existing network are always subject to political interests and decisions. This makes infrastructure policy a fundamental driver of the market.
Although rail electrification is a niche market within rail infrastructure, it is a growth market with long-term positive prospects, as there are economic and environmental advantages to electrical operation compared to diesel.

Among the small number of international suppliers in the field of rail electrification are Siemens, Alstom and Balfour Beatty. While Balfour Beatty sold its rail divisions in many countries as part of a restructuring strategy in 2012-2014, the possible merger of Siemens and Alstom might lead to the emergence of a new world market leader which would be bigger than the two Chinese rail construction groups CREC and CRCC. [That merger fell through but now there are discussions of merger between Bombardier and Alston.]


In Blackpool, a Pendolino train was used to test the infrastructure between Blackpool North and from Preston, to ensure this 17-mile stretch can carry electric trains as the timetable is changing so that providers such as Virgin Trains and Northern can run these trains that are greener, more reliable and much quieter. Source: Transport Britain
Here in the UK the share of electrified railways comes in at a paltry 42% (June 2018). Network Rail is working on main-line electrification projects across Britain including lines in Glasgow, Manchester and London.[Update]
Rail electrification in numbers
In January 2018, 36% of the UK's rail network was electrified. Because the busiest routes are electrified, 70% of all trains in the UK are electric. 24% of the UK's trains are diesel-only. The remaining 6% of UK trains are bi-mode.
Source: DfT 

Railway must be decarbonised to help meet ambitious environment targets

Source: Railway Engineer

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers published this valuable article by David Shirres in their journal Professional Engineering  on 26 July 2019: Since time of writing, Grant Shapps has become the new Secretary of State for Transport and the government's Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore has signed legislation to commit the UK to a legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The new net-zero target by 2050 [was] recommended by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The committee considers that this new target is achievable with known technologies but requires urgent policy changes.This requires deep decarbonisation of the national grid with a major expansion of renewable and low-carbon generation plus carbon capture and storage.
A CCC report calls for extensive electrification, with domestic gas boilers replaced by electric heating and widespread use of battery-powered road vehicles. As a result, electricity production needs to double by 2050. This report barely mentions the rail sector. 
  • Rail greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per passenger are typically a quarter of those from road transport. In 2017 rail transport produced only 2m tonnes GHG, compared with cars (59.6mt) vans (29.4mt), buses (3.4mt) and HGV (20.8mt).  
  •  A shift of 3% of passengers and 3% of freight from road to rail would give annual GHG emissions savings of 2m tonnes – the rail sector’s total emissions.
  • The rail industry must also address environmental concerns about diesel particulate emissions. As more cities create ultra-low emission zones, diesel train engine fumes in stations will become increasingly unacceptable. 
  • Last year, the government called for diesel-only trains to be off the tracks by 2040 and challenged the industry to develop alternative traction. 
[Definition: A bi-mode locomotive) is powered either from an electricity supply or 
by using the onboard diesel engine 
  • [Former] Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said that the new East-West rail line will not be electrified and that instead it will have “a completely new generation of low-emission trains”. 
  • Having experienced electrification cost overruns, the government’s view seems to be that new types of self-powered traction are needed to deliver a zero-carbon railway.
  • Grayling declared that bi-mode trains are the “best available technology”. Bi-modes are not ‘diesel-only’ and so are exempt from the 2040 deadline to remove other diesel trains.
Yet the reality is that they will spend most of their lives lugging around idle diesel engines -  which constitute 8% of their weight - under electric wires. In diesel mode, it would have the same performance as the trains they replace. 
  • The only viable alternative self-powered rail traction with range and performance comparable to diesel is hydrogen trains. Yet these cannot deliver the power of electric trains and, due to conversion losses, require three times their energy. The low energy density of compressed hydrogen requires a pressure vessel eight times the size of a diesel tank.
  • Electric trains are the only form of transport that offers high speed and high acceleration with potentially zero-GHG emissions, as they take power directly from the grid. So their carbon footprint will reduce as electricity supply is decarbonised.
  • Currently, the respective annual average GHG emissions for electric and diesel rail passenger vehicles are 93 and 352 tonnes. Projected grid decarbonisation will reduce electric vehicle emissions to 39 tonnes by 2040.  
  • For freight locomotives, the annual electric and diesel emissions are 122 and 866 tonnes, with emissions from electric locomotives forecast to be cut to 52 tonnes by 2040. Electrification is the only way to decarbonise rail freight as there is no low-carbon option for self-powered locomotives.   

NETWORK RAIL: A Guide to Overhead Electrification [Feb 2015]

At the moment, all trains on un-electrified routes are powered by diesel engines, similar in concept if not size to those under the bonnets of many lorries. However, electrification is preferred for major railway lines because electric trains are lighter, cleaner, cheaper, quieter and faster to accelerate. They allow more trains to be run more efficiently and more quickly. 
Electric trains are cheaper than diesel trains because: 
• They are cheaper to build, 20% cheaper to lease and maintenance costs are typically 33% lower.
• Fuel costs are typically 45% lower because electric trains are lighter and more efficient and electricity from the National Grid is cheaper than diesel fuel. 
• Electric trains are lighter and therefore cause on average 13% less wear to the tracks which means maintenance costs are therefore lower
Electric trains are environmentally superior because:
• They do not pollute the air during operation
• Power stations generating the electricity are more efficient and have more sophisticated and effective emissions controls. They therefore emit 20-30% less carbon per passenger mile than diesel.
  •  They are quieter and vibrate less due to the absence of diesel engines.
• Electric trains provide a better service because they have a higher power-to-weight ratio, which means that they are generally faster than diesel trains and accelerate more quickly, which reduces the journey times.


Vivarail Class 230 Successfully Completes 40-Mile Battery Tests: Vivarail, which is transforming old London Underground rolling stock into battery trains – among other things – says it has been conducting tests on its Class 230 battery train during which it managed to run on battery power for 40 miles many times. Battery power is an important bridging technology for lines that are only partially electrified and will help reduce the environmental impact of the rail sector even further. The Wales Borders franchise will operate 5 Class 230s that are diesel-battery hybrids. https://railway-news.com/industry-insider-week-3-2020

All aboard Britain’s first hydrogen train
By Tom Burridge Transport correspondent, BBC News 20.6 2019
Hydrogen-powered trains are arguably the greenest trains out there.

"Mini power stations on wheels", is how Alex Burrows from the University of Birmingham describes them.He is the project director for the 'Hydroflex' train which was showcased at an event in the West Midlands. Unlike diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not emit harmful gases, instead using hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, water and heat.It is "a fully green fuel", says Helen Simpson from rail rolling stock company Porterbrook, which created the Hydroflex in partnership with Birmingham University's centre for Railway Research.
But hydrogen trains are still incredibly rare.The only two in active service in the entire world are in Germany. Britain is looking to become one of the next countries to start running them.
And the 'Hydroflex' is a tester train where the technology is being trialled.
The hydrogen tanks, the fuel cell and the batteries sit inside a carriage where passengers would normally sit.In future commercial models that equipment will have to be stored away above and beneath the train. 

So why is this all happening now?
A quarter of the UK's trains run solely off diesel. The government wants them all gone by 2040.
"The carbon writing is on the wall", says Mike Muldoon from French train manufacturer Alstom, the company behind Germany's hydrogen trains.He argues the rail sector has to get greener "if we are going to convince more people to shift from car to train."
But until the day when hydrogen trains are ferrying passengers around the UK, diesel-powered trains are a necessity. That is because more than two thirds of our rail lines do not have overhead cabling which electric trains need to run.
So trains are bi-mode, which means they can run off electricity, where there are overhead cables, and off diesel the rest of the time. But bi-mode trains are, in environmental terms, far from perfect. And electrifying rail lines does not come cheaply for the government.
Regional routes which carry relatively few passengers are unlikely to be electrified soon.
And that is where hydrogen trains come in.The hope is that they will be carrying passengers in the UK in two years.

Hydrogen fuels cells on Alstom's iLint hydrogen train (Credit: Alstom)
 Can Britain just use the same hydrogen trains as Germany? The short answer is no. That's because German trains are taller."Because the Victorians went first they built trains smaller", says Mike Muldoon from Alstom. Smaller trains means less space to fit all the technology on board. The challenge now is to design trains which have enough hydrogen in their tanks to last an entire day."The technology should be discreetly hidden", says Mike Muldoon, Alstom's UK head of business development.
For example its hydrogen trains in Germany, which are similar to a future UK train design, have the fuel cells in the roof and the batteries underneath the train. 
Porterbrook's 'Hydroflex' train is bi-mode, meaning it can be powered by electricity made from hydrogen or take electricity from overhead cables. The plan is that the train will begin testing on the UK mainline in March.
Helen Simpson, from Porterbrook, says hydrogen trains are "very practical" for replacing long-distance diesel routes.
Source https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48698532



The 4th largest railway network in the world
New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government’s determination to push through with the “complete electrification” of the Indian Railways’ 69,182-route kilometre network within a compressed time frame of three years has triggered a serious departmental war that threatens to lead to time and cost overruns.

Modi govt’s electrification push so far
Official documents show that since 2014, when the NDA government came to power, 217 electrification projects consisting of 31,468 route kilometres have been sanctioned. The pace of electrification work has also been bumped up. In 2013-14, the budgetary sanction was for a mere 610 route kilometres, but it went up each year  until, in March 2019, 35,488 route kilometres of the Indian Railways had been electrified.

 Targets since then have been steeper: 7,000 route kilometres in 2019-20; 10,500 km in 2020-21, and 10,500 km in 2021-22. But all these plans have run into complications, thanks to the absence of a blueprint to execute them.

No plan for scrapped diesel locos
Midway through the project, Railway Board officials are seen grappling with a critical concern: How to monetise the massive number of diesel engines that will go out of service due to electrification.
Responding to a questionnaire from ThePrint, ministry spokesperson Shubha Gupta said by 31 March 2020, the zonal railways have been instructed to phase out 403 diesel locomotives that have reached 31 years of age. Of these, only 14 are providing main line service; the remaining have been deployed for shunting/departmental services, or been “grounded”.
The older variety of diesel locomotives in India — called ALCOs after their original American manufacturer — are designed to run for 36 years (called ‘codal life’), but sources say the government has reduced that to 31 years to fast forward the electrification plan. The ministry refused to confirm or deny this.
In all, approximately 1,000 diesel engines in full working condition are reported to have been “stabled” or grounded so far.
Official targets call for the stabling of 4,000 diesel locos in the next two years. According to an official note circulated after the second meeting of the ‘Parivartan Sangoshthi’ (introspection camp on rail reform) that took place in New Delhi on 7-8 December, the ministry has not yet evolved a policy on monetising the diesel engines that will get stabled.
In the past, diesel engines that have hit their ‘codal life’ have been routinely sold off as scrap, with 80 per cent of the parts being retained to use as spares for newer engines.
“But, given the determination of the government to push through the complete electrification plan in a compressed time frame, without having finalised a concrete plan to monetise the diesel assets, one confronts a situation when diesel engines in perfect running condition are being condemned to rust away and perish,” an official said.
If these engines are sold off as scrap, they would, at best, fetch between Rs 25-50 lakh each. On the other hand, the cost of refurbishing 4,000 diesel engines for possible export to Asian or African countries would work out to Rs 8,000 crore at the rate of Rs 2 crore per loco.
Officials said the refurbished engines would fetch a price of approximately Rs 5 crore each in the international market. But there is a catch: Just a few countries use the broad gauge diesel engines that are in operation in India, and the demand for such engines in the international market is rather low. In the last 20 years, India has managed to sell less than 1,000 such engines to countries such as Tanzania, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
“It is unlikely that India will find a bulk buyer for such a large number of diesel engines,” ministry sources said.
‘Dual mode’ fails to get on the rails
The railways had announced with much fanfare in 2016 that existing diesel locomotives will be converted to ‘dual mode’ engines that could run on both diesel and electric traction. The government had said with this technological breakthrough, scrapped diesel engines could also be put to use.
In the last three years, however, engineers at the Varanasi-based Diesel Locomotive Works have continued to struggle to build the first prototype. The dual mode engines have failed to clear the mandatory performance and safety tests from the Lucknow-headquartered Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO).
Even if they do clear the tests, dual mode engines will not come cheap — according to the ministry’s response to ThePrint, the estimated cost of each would be Rs 18 crore.

High cost of electrification

Meanwhile, the decision to abruptly remove 4,000 diesel engines from mainline operations will necessitate the manufacture/purchase of an equal number of electric engines. At an average cost of Rs 12 crore for each electric loco, the total cost will come to Rs 48,000 crore, plus the loss incurred on the diesel locos, which could end up being about half that figure.
This means that when the full electrification plan is completed, it will have cost the railways in excess of Rs 1 lakh crore — approximately Rs 50,000 crore to convert the 29,880 kilometres of un-electrified tracks, Rs 50,000 crore for electric locos, another Rs 5,000 crore to construct sheds to house these locos, and the additional cost of training loco pilots.
Given the precarious state of rail finances, rustling up the funds to execute the electrification plan seems a tall order. As highlighted in a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the railways’ operating ratio touched an alarming figure of 98.4 per cent during 2017-18 — meaning that it spent 98.4 paisa to earn every rupee.  
No savings on fuel bills 
There’s another aspect of this process that has left Railway Board officials scratching their heads: Despite diesel locos being stabled and new electric locos being introduced, the railways’ overall fuel consumption has either remained the same or even risen in the last few years.
Sources say there is no clarity yet on why consumption has plateaued or risen despite the large-scale electrification and scrapping of diesel locos. They propound two theories, the first of which is that while old diesel engines have been scrapped on paper, those working on the main line continue to operate at the same level as before.
Another point raised by a ministry official is the change in the procurement practice for locomotives. Earlier, engines were purchased based on freight and passenger traffic projections calculated by the Traffic Directorate, but under the current dispensation, the production of electric engines “is being inflated in a random manner”.
The other possibility is that while more routes have been electrified, these sections are not fully usable. An official said on the condition of anonymity that several lines have been electrified in patches, and thus still require diesel traction. The ministry did not comment on the matter.
“One therefore has a situation when both diesel and electric engines are becoming surplus and are idling away,” the official said. 

Record Capital Expenditure for Indian Railways 

Source: railwaygazette.com 6th Feb 2020.

A 17% year-on-year increase in capital expenditure for Indian Railways in 2020-21 was announced when Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman presented the national budget on February 1. The Ministry of Railways said the emphasis would be on continuing capacity enhancement works, and accelerating implementation to make Indian Railways ‘the growth engine of the economy’. Electrification of 6 000 route-km is targeted, with wiring of the entire broad gauge network now envisaged for completion by 2023-24.


 Following the positive outcome of a feasibility study, DB Cargo has confirmed it is to buy 50 Toshiba diesel-battery hybrid 100 km/h locomotives for shunting and short-distance freight operations, and will lease a further 50 locos. The HDB800 locos will be equipped with Toshiba’s SCiB lithium-ion battery system.DB said 50 hybrid locos would replace 61 of its older locomotives, offering ‘considerably’ reduced diesel consumption, lower maintenance costs and higher average fleet availability. It will be possible to charge the batteries via an external power supply, providing the ability to increase the proportion of renewable energy used.

‘Their new drive systems will allow our shunting yards to work in a more resource-efficient way, with annual energy savings of 30% and diesel fuel savings of 1 million litres per year. Alongside this, modern technology will make using the vehicles easier for our staff.’



DB to Feed Solar Power Directly into Its Traction Network 
Deutsche Bahn says it will feed solar power directly into its traction network for the first time.
The German state-rail operator has signed a contract with Enerparc for a new solar park measuring around 70 football pitches in size. 60 percent of the electricity DB currently consumes comes from renewable sources. The company hopes to make this 100 percent by 2038.
Deutsche Bahn is already the biggest consumer of green electricity in Germany. According to the company’s own calculations 60 percent of its electricity currently comes from renewables. This percentage will rise to 61 percent by 2021 and to 100 percent by 2038.
Torsten Schein, Head of the Management Board at DB Energie, said: “We're responsible for the acquisition of electricity for the rail network and are Germany's fifth-largest electricity provider. By feeding this solar electricity directly into the network, we are gathering experience and insights regarding supplying the railway with renewables.”
Deutsche Bahn set up a team of experts for the express purpose of preparing the railways for the changing climatic conditions. One example is DB’s extensive vegetation management in order to become more resilient to the climate. Further projects include ones that cool infrastructure, such as aerogel, and insights from bionics.
Following the successful tests of the cooling effect of white rails in summer 2019, DB is now white rails in actual passenger operations. To do that, the company has painted a thousand metres of track on the Hanover-Würzburg high-speed line with environmentally friendly paint. This real-world test is to inform DB of the durability and wear of the paint. It will also provide insights into how best to apply the paint over long distances. Substantive results are expected in a year. These will then provide the foundation for a potential expansion of the project on further lines.


The Rhein-Main Verkehrsverbund (RMV) subsidiary Fahma GmbH, which operates the Taunusbahn, has chosen a winner of its Europe-wide tender for 27 fuel cell trains: Alstom. The French rolling stock manufacturer will deliver the Coradia iLint units in time for the timetable change in December 2022. Alstom says this order will give Fahma GmbH the world’s largest fleet of fuel cell trains.
The contract also includes an order for the supply of hydrogen and for the maintenance and provision of reserve capacities for 25 years. Alstom will supply the hydrogen in co-operation with Infraserv GmbH & Co. Höchst KG. The filling station is situated in the Höchst industrial park.
The full value of the contract is 500 million euros (557 million USD), of which Alstom’s share is 360 million euros (401 million USD).
Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Enak Ferlemann, said:
“The purchase of 27 vehicles is a lighthouse project for fuel cell mobility, about which I’m very pleased. The federal government supports this investment in climate-friendly mobility by assuming 40 percent of the additional vehicle costs incurred in comparison to diesel vehicles, as well as by providing proportional support for the hydrogen filling station. The project can serve as a model for the German transport ministry. We hope that many other projects in Germany will follow this example.
The 27 hydrogen fuel cell trains will replace the existing fleet of diesel trains on the RB11, RB12, RB15 and RB16 lines.
Tarek Al-Wazir, the Minister of Transport for the German state of Hesse, said:
“On Hesse’s tracks you can still find many diesel vehicles today as overhead lines are missing. Fuel cell traction is therefore a quickly feasible alternative to expensive electrification. In Hessen, transport is responsible for one third of greenhouse gas emissions. Steam instead of diesel soot is therefore an exciting approach. We will continue to actively support the project and make every effort to ensure that the necessary adaptations to the rail infrastructure around the hydrogen filling station in"
Hydrogen Refuelling
The hydrogen fuel cells will be refuelled at the Industriepark Höchst in Frankfurt, an “innovative chemical and pharmaceutical site in Europe’s heartland”. It is well situated for access to international transport routes and is home to more than 90 companies, such as Bayer, Sanofi and Celanese.
Dr Joachim Kreysing, Managing Director of Infraserv Höchst, which operates the industrial park, said:
“With its existing hydrogen infrastructure, Industriepark Höchst is an ideal filling station location for fuel-cell vehicles. The operation of the hydrogen filling station for trains as a supplement to the tanking facilities for buses and trucks fits in perfectly with our concept, with which we as an innovative company are further developing our energy supply concepts and are relying on environmentally friendly energy carriers.”
 Alstom’s Coradia iLint
The Coradia iLint, which is already in operation elsewhere in Germany, is the first passenger train in the world that uses electrical power from hydrogen fuel cells. The Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen began operating Alstom’s hydrogen trains in September 2018 and will operate a total of 14 of them from 2021. This makes RMV the second German operator to adopt the technology. 
They are locally emission free, with the only by-products being steam and liquid water. Another emissions area where these trains have a positive scoresheet is noise. They produce decibel levels on par with suburban trains.
Dr Jörg Nikutta, Managing Director, Alstom Germany and Austria, said:
“We are very pleased that Alstom’s zero-emission Coradia iLint regional trains will be operated in Hesse in the near future, allowing climate friendly transportation of passengers in the Taunus region. This new success, coupled with Coradia iLint’s previous success, demonstrates how trendsetting and sustainable transportation is already a reality.”
Coradia iLint for RMV
Each of the 27 trains will come with passenger information systems with real-time information monitors. They will have 160 seats per vehicle as well as space for bicycles, wheelchair and prams. Passengers will also benefit from complimentary wifi. Once these 27 trains are in service, capacity on the Taunus subnetwork will rise by up to 40 percent. This is particularly positive for commuters who travel during rush hour.
Prof. Knut Ringat, Managing Director, RMV, said:
“This award sets two records: With the commissioning of the new vehicles in 2022, RMV will have the world’s largest fleet of fuel cell trains in passenger transport and it is the largest order in the history of our subsidiary fahma. After electrically powered trains, electric buses and hydrogen buses, we are now offering our passengers a further opportunity to travel without emissions. This milestone makes me proud and is a giant step towards a mobility without pollutants.”Ulrich Krebs, District Administrator, Hochtaunuskreis and Deputy Chairman of RMV’s Supervisory Board, said:
“In addition to electrifying the S5 to Usingen, the fuel cell trains offer various advantages for routes that have not yet been electrified. Commuters benefit from more space in the trains and a significantly quieter journey because the engine noise of the vehicles is quieter due to the electric drive. This is also an advantage for the people living near the lines.”

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