Showing posts with label diesel locomotive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label diesel locomotive. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Turning from diesel to hydrogen trains

The Oilholic finds himself on the road again; this time roughly 570 miles east of London in Salzgitter, Germany, at a research and testing facility of rail transport solutions provider Alstom. 

The French company's testing yard is abuzz for a (relatively) new reason – one of it's most popular Coradia series trains, namely the reliable diesel work-horse the Coradia Lint 54, is about to undergo a transformation like none other.

Meet the 'Coradia iLint', a full emission-free train that runs on Hydrogen powered fuel cells (see above). It only emits steam and condensed water, and no  carbon. To get a perspective, the Oilholic was given a demonstration ride on the train over a one mile track, before its due to enter service on German public transport this year. 

For all intents and purposes, it was a smooth ride and the quietest ever rail journey this blogger has been on. In fact, were it not for the wheel friction din and movement vibration, you wouldn't hear a thing. You'd imagine reducing pollution, also means minimising noise pollution and the Coradia iLint certainly fits that box.

The interior was that of a normal train in service across European public transport networks, meaning no clunky hydrogen tanks in eyesight or internal variations. (Click image below to enlarge and get a glimpse)

According to Alstom, the prototype is powered by an electrical traction drive. Electrical energy is generated onboard in fuel cells and stored in batteries.

The fuel cell provides electrical energy by combining hydrogen stored in the train's tanks onboard with oxygen from the environment, releasing good old H2O. 

While on the test track the train touched 80 km/h, out in the real world Alstom insists it would match the performance of a Coradia diesel unit, including comparable acceleration, braking and maximum speed (of 140 km/h) with the same travel range and passenger capacity as its hydrocarbon fuelled variant. 

Two things spring to mind; first being safety and the second being the infrastructure needed to power up the new train. On the first point, an Alstom spokesperson claimed that high pressure hydrogen reservoirs are actually safer than petrol tanks in comparable hazard situations, a point also made by Japanese automaker Toyota, which has been on its own hydrogen powered vehicle pathway since 2015 via its Mirai model. The technology has been rigourously tested, both mobility providers insist. 

As for the infrastructure needed, Alstom says it is offering the "complete package" consisting of the train itself and its maintenance, and also the whole hydrogen fuelling infrastructure, taking care of all rolling stock and hydrogen related matters, leaving operators to concentrate on their "core competencies."

The company's message chimes with that of other proponents of Hydrogen – intelligent energy management coupled with emissions free mobility.

And to make the point – a Toyota Mirai pulled up alongside the Coradia iLint (see above), with perfect timing. That's all from Salzgitter, as its time to ride the Mirai around Northern Germany and beyond! Keep reading, keep it 'crude', even if the next few posts are going to about hydrogen!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2018. Photo 1: Alstom's Coradia iLint. Photo 2: Glimpses of exterior, roof, interior and driver's cabin of the Coradia iLint. Photo 3: Coradia iLint and Toyota's Mirai hydrogen fuelled car © Gaurav Sharma May 2018.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Diesel powered XPT from Melbourne to Sydney

Before the Oilholic hit Sydney, there was Melbourne. However, given that flying to Melbourne from London, via Hong Kong had given one a fair collection of air miles, it was time get some rail miles into the mix and travel from the heart of Victoria to the hub of New South Wales with assistance of a diesel-powered Paxman VP185 12-cylinder locomotive.

Flying would have taken one up in the air and down into Sydney in little over an hour, but the train journey took 11.5 hours zipping past mountain sides, streams, woodlands, lush green farming country, industrial heartlands, the odd wallaby, countless sheep and towns not normally on tourists’ itinerary accompanied by
with changeable weather.

Leaving Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station at 8:30am, the 'XPT' or express train headed to Benalla, Wangaratta, Albury, Culcairn, Henty and The Rock stations in that order.

If you know your cricket, next came Wagga Wagga, birthplace of Aussie greats Geoff
Lawson, Michael Slater and Mark Taylor, the first major town you hit when the train crosses into New South Wales.  

Following Wagga Wagga, came Junee and Cootamundra (birthplace of the late cricketing great Sir Donald Bradman), followed by Harden, Yass Junction, Goulburn and Mossvale bringing the suburbs of Sydney in sight some 10 hours later.

Forever etched in one’s memory – that where were you moment when Donald Trump won the US presidency – well the Oilholic was in Campbelltown just prior to hitting Sydney central!

There was no Wi-Fi; but a purser on the train bellowed the results to I must say, a very surprised carriage!

The Oilholic’s assessment – the journey might well have been between Victoria and New South Wales, but in a cool eclectic sort of way, a throwback to 1980s British Rail.
Afterall, it was the British Rail intercity service that its Aussie cousin was modelled on back in April 1982, and all those years later it still exudes that rustic charm, which may or may not be to your taste.

In 2016, the XPT yours truly got on at Melbourne saw the Paxman locomotive with four low-pressure turbochargers and two high-pressure turbochargers giving it 1,492 kW / 2,000 horsepower lug six clunky carriages (seven during peak times) between Melbourne and Sydney, with one being a sleeper car for those who can’t handle the arduous journey sitting up. Two trains go in each direction dialy. 

There’s a pantry car too, serving hot meals, cold beer and plenty of sausage rolls. This blogger loved a throwback to the old days. Some, including Aussie mates, say it’s for the train buffs only or a dumb touristy move. 

If that’s the case, the Oilholic is guilty as charged. That’s all from Australia folks as an amazing week comes to a close, New Zealand calling next! 

One leaves you with a view of the Sydney Opera House (Click on all images to enlarge); seeing it means one more item off the bucket list. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2016. Photo 1: XPT Melbourne to Sydney service. Photo 2: XPT Melbourne to Sydney morning service destinations and departure board. Photo 3: Australian countryside. Photo 4: Arriving at Wagga Wagga. Photo 5: Train station in New South Wales. Photo 6: Sheep in Australian countryside. Photo 7: Sydney Opera House  © Gaurav Sharma, 2016, Australia.