The Green Revolution

The Infrastructure Revolution 

By Joe Ferguson

The utilisation of cyber technology and cyber networks allows the advancement of rail transport.  Transport Cyber can be proud of its green credentials as investment in cyber and protection against cyber can only enhance the use of green railways over road pollution.  In Europe, already there are initiatives for longer freight trains enhanced by improved signalling to remove haulage from the highways.

Both the two main parties focus on investment in the UK’s infrastructure as policy priorities.  Labour’s commitment to a green revolution should embrace the rail and metro, tram industry.  The green credentials of rail and tram are huge and can get bigger.  The motor industry can no longer be king and needs to be relegated until motor cars can run safely and without pollution. Electric trains carry far more passengers far more efficiently, far faster and greatly more safe that cars or planes; Labour must concentrate on extending train networks, between our cities and ports, extending them to our countryside and seaside, building more stations along the way. Inside our cities, tram networks need to be multiplied as environmentally sound arteries from suburbs to shopping centres, from home to office, tram stops and green parks.  Cyclists must be given pollution free access to travel without the danger of lorries and inadvertent drivers.  Forget park and ride, think train and tram.  Of course, we will never eliminate cars and buses for individual accessibility but the world needs transport to be eco-friendly in a way they can never be.

Stored power leads the way

One of the greatest innovations for both tram and train is the development of battery power.  Birmingham City Council announced last week it had successfully trialed battery power on its new Midland Metro tram lines. The implication is far less infrastructure is required (overhead power cables and stanchions). Therefore Birmingham might see extended Tram installations – through the tunnels, up the Bristol Road all the way to the Lickeys, maybe as far out to the airport??

“One of the greatest innovations for both tram and train is the development of battery power.”

Keeping up with Battery power, Bombardier Transportation announced on October 2 that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Leclanché SA which would see the Swiss company become its preferred global provider of battery systems for rail applications. According to Bombardier, Leclanché will deliver ‘imminently’ its first performance demonstrator battery systems, after which it will be in line to supply traction equipment worth in excess of €100m for use in more than 10 rolling stock projects. Bombardier will use Leclanché’s GNMC and LTO cells, modules and pack technology across its extensive portfolio of trains. The collaboration is intended reduce dependence on diesel engines and lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the railway sector.

This follows an earlier trial by Siemens in April – AUSTRIAN Federal Railways (ÖBB) and Siemens demonstrated the operation of the prototype Desiro ML battery-electric multiple unit on April 12 in connection with a congress on regional public transport in Wiener Neustadt Passenger tests of the Desiro ML Cityjet eco are planned in second half of 2019. Using the battery option produces half the CO2 emissions compared to the diesel engines that have to be used otherwise.

The drive enables the train to charge its newly installed batteries via the pantograph on electrified rail lines. This energy is then available for powering the train on non-electrified stretches. As soon as the train leaves the electrified line, its batteries feed the train’s power supply system. Siemens and ÖBB will now thoroughly test this technology in a pilot project over the coming months and develop the system to series maturity. When the batteries are ready for series production, they should have a lifetime of around 15 years, which means they will have to be replaced only once over the entire service life of the train.

The battery system located on the middle car of the converted trainset is comprised of three battery containers, two DC/DC controllers, a battery cooler and other electronic components. The system uses lithium-titanate batteries (LTO) which allow significantly higher charging currents for fast charging. A new thermal concept for the battery containers allows the battery packs to operate in a wider range of external battery conditions.

“Climate protection is especially important at ÖBB. We’re always looking for ways to improve our products and make them more environmentally friendly. As part of this quest, ÖBB will continue to focus on replacing diesel vehicles in the future. As Austria’s largest climate protection company, ÖBB is spearheading a further initiative in the fight against climate change with the Cityjet eco,” said Evelyn Palla, member of the Management Board of ÖBB Personenverkehr.