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GO Transit Electrification (Metrolinx, Proposed)

ssiguy2

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As I have clearly stated just a few comments, I actually don't think hydrogen would be the best choice as I think battery would be. That however doesn't mean it's not a viable option for electrification of the RER system. With these developments however, it may turn out to be the best option with the huge advances in technology and as I noted with commitments to hydrogen fueling stations, The number of both fuel and vehicle manufacturer options will increase dramatically over the next few years.
 

ssiguy2

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A quick update on new non-catenary electric trains:

Austria will be launching the world's first hydrogen light rail line in 2 years. It's a 32km system that carries 2.9 million passengers a year and will replace it's current diesel trains.

VIVA Rail in the UK has successively completed trials on it's new Class 230 single-level suburban trains. The trains are part of the UK's ambitious project to get rid of all diesel routes. The trains can run completely on battery power for 95 km and most importantly have a new and much faster recharging system that allows the trains to be COMPLETELY recharged in just 7 minutes with no intermediate recharging needed anywhere along the route.

This is very significant for a system like RER where RER trains will not go by more than even every 10 minutes for at least this decade meaning that the trains could run all RER routes WITHOUT any intermediate station-only catenary recharging needed. Admittedly that is cutting it pretty thin on longer routes like Lakeshore but it would still only mean one of 2 or 3 intermediate stations along the routes {probably the ones with the busiest and hence longest dwell times ie Union and Oakville}. This would greatly improve even more the huge infrastructure cost savings over catenary {and to a lesser extent, hydrogen} and require almost no new construction of any kind along the route. Of course the performance, length of travel, and recharging times will only improve and quickly with the dizzying rate of new battery technology being introduced.
,
 

junctionist

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The risk is that the experimental technology will prove impractical like turbine trains did and the Scarborough RT. That would be OK if we were just a smaller city just trying to be progressive. But we need something that is guaranteed to succeed to ensure the region's quality of life doesn't deteriorate significantly.
 

crs1026

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Interesting article in the Globe about the future of hydrogen in the automotive industry. Hope it's not paywalled.

Summary - the optimism about hydrogen is widespread, especially in preference to battery solutions.... but the sources of hydrogen production aren't there yet, and the cheapest, most prevalent production methods in use today have their own deficiencies as a carbon-free process.


- Paul
 

ssiguy2

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The risk is that the experimental technology will prove impractical like turbine trains did and the Scarborough RT. That would be OK if we were just a smaller city just trying to be progressive. But we need something that is guaranteed to succeed to ensure the region's quality of life doesn't deteriorate significantly.
I can understand your trepidations about using a relatively new technology like hydrogen, those concerns are valid. I do not share, however, your concerns about battery and it is not, under any definition, experimental but quite the opposite being very tried and true. Battery trains have been run all over the world for the better part of a century. Battery cars have been around for more than a century and in fact the very first cars were battery and are proven and reliable but like trains, impractical. The technology is sound but never caught on because of the very small range, grotesque weight, and long recharging times.

The transformative change in battery technology in just the last 5 years has negated those issues, making them very practical in places like Toronto. Battery trains are very much standard catenary trains but just require a tiny fraction of the wires resulting in huge infrastructure cost savings in money, time, and construction disruption. Simultaneously, they offer far greater flexibility in usage not being susceptible to weather issues that effect catenary wires.
 
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dowlingm

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The UK Class 230s are former Underground stock. I wonder what the operating empty weight of one compares to say a Nippon Sharyo with a similar powertrain.
 

ssiguy2

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Interesting news from L.A.

Now that the California HSR project has been scaled back to irrelevance, there is a large sum of money available for portions of the line that run thru Greater LA. LA's Metrolink commuter rail system is the 3rd largest in the US after NYC & Chicago but gets ridership of only 50,000 a day. This is due, in part, to infrequent and basically no off-peak service, LA's very sprawling nature with a relatively low employment downtown where commuter rail is radiated from, LA's infamous car culture, and the fact that it has to share the tracks with freight.

The money would be used to twin tracks, build overpasses, and decarbonize the busier Burbank-LA-Anaheim route which was part of the original HSR route. While it said that a technology choice has not been determined, the belief is that it will be battery-only trains as it is now being deployed in Europe. It would be the most cost effective way to decarbonize as due to not having to build the catenary system of which ML {like GO} has none and get support from freight companies still using the route that are concerned about how catenary wires may effect the route which uses double-decker freight cars. It was also noted that the batteries would not be effected by wire/catenary problems in the event of earthquakes much like Toronto's concern of catenary due to wind/ice/snow storms.
 

squircle

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VIVA Rail in the UK has successively completed trials on it's new Class 230 single-level suburban trains. The trains are part of the UK's ambitious project to get rid of all diesel routes. The trains can run completely on battery power for 95 km and most importantly have a new and much faster recharging system that allows the trains to be COMPLETELY recharged in just 7 minutes with no intermediate recharging needed anywhere along the route.
The Vivarail D-stock conversions are super neat for many reasons. They've actually got (at least) three types of prototypes right now: straight diesel, diesel-battery, and straight battery. The cool thing about the power modules is they're entirely self-contained. Problems with one diesel module? No problem; drop it, roll it away, put another one in. I'm not sure whether they're interoperable (e.g. to switch a diesel-battery to a straight battery train), but on the diesel-battery train, the two outside cars have batteries while the middle car has the diesel module.

Here are the specs on the battery pack they're using (I believe there are four per car, but I'm not 100% sure -- might just be two, might be more):

20190928_145812.jpg

I've got some more photos but they're not particularly good (only had my phone camera). I will say that the vehicles are very impressive in-person; it's hard to tell they were former Underground trains. Very shiny.
 

mdrejhon

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Even with the battery category, you have small battery and large battery options -- for varying distances and power requirements. Battery not as practical as thought? Install more catenary. Decide to stop battery trains? Use the catenary with regular EMUs and/or dualmodes and/or electric locomotives. Not enough power? Add more paralleling substations. This is a lot more de-risked progression path than hydrogen.

It'll be a matter of some engineering time before this becomes much more mature -- but this is a far less risky technological path than hydrogen -- there's a more downgrade paths, upgrade paths, and opt-outs, and more commonalty/compatibility with existing technology -- and the infrastructure (electricity vs hydrogen) is more easily tapped and reused.
 

MisterF

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It was also noted that the batteries would not be effected by wire/catenary problems in the event of earthquakes much like Toronto's concern of catenary due to wind/ice/snow storms.
Can we please stop using the weather as an all purpose excuse for not building modern infrastructure? If they can do catenary powered trains across Siberia of all places, we can do it here. Basically other every northern country with a rail network to speak of has widespread electrification. Even Canada has some in the Montreal area. There's no concern about snow and ice; it's a non-issue.
 

44 North

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Can we please stop using the weather as an all purpose excuse for not building modern infrastructure? If they can do catenary powered trains across Siberia of all places, we can do it here. Basically other every northern country with a rail network to speak of has widespread electrification. Even Canada has some in the Montreal area. There's no concern about snow and ice; it's a non-issue.
I would agree if it related to snow, ice (general ice), cold, etc. See too much of that in discussion re: open-air subways to the point it becomes annoying. But freezing rain on catenary is actually something I haven't heard answered in any discussion about electrification. It is a fairly unique phenomenon, and can cripple things. Was neat watching streetcars twitching on/off as they slowly cracked ice off their wires during the last ice storm. Now wonder how an electric GO train would fare.
 

mdrejhon

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I would agree if it related to snow, ice (general ice), cold, etc. See too much of that in discussion re: open-air subways to the point it becomes annoying. But freezing rain on catenary is actually something I haven't heard answered in any discussion about electrification. It is a fairly unique phenomenon, and can cripple things. Was neat watching streetcars twitching on/off as they slowly cracked ice off their wires during the last ice storm. Now wonder how an electric GO train would fare.
GO electrification will use 25,000 volt catenary, while TTC uses 300 volt catenary.

Almost 100x more voltage. There will be no flicker -- the electricity would arc like a razor blade through ice, turning the ice straight into steam/plasma. You'll see an arc-spark at pantograph contact on the first train of the day (and no flickering lights inside). Then no sparks for the subsequent 15-minute trains right after that, as the catenary will have quickly hottened up already, unable to attract anymore ice rain until after the last train of the night.

At these much higher voltages, ice in switches tends to be a far bigger problem than ice on catenary. You can also use catenary scrapers, albiet more common in Russia -- called "vibropantographs" / "vibropantografs" (вибропантограф ) ahead of the pantograph to clear ice off the wire, so even the first train can remain full speed and stop the sparking/arcing. But our winters along our major rail routes aren't quite as bitter and icestorm-prone as Siberia.

Even if the lights managed to flicker, -- then when adding a battery, it'll double as a UPS and prevent flicker.
 
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smallspy

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GO electrification will use 25,000 volt catenary, while TTC uses 300 volt catenary.
TTC is 600V dc, and eventually will add 750V dc to their system when the Crosstown and Finch West lines open.

Almost 100x more voltage. There will be no flicker -- the electricity would arc like a razor blade through ice, turning the ice straight into steam/plasma. You'll see an arc-spark at pantograph contact on the first train of the day (and no flickering lights inside). Then no sparks for the subsequent 15-minute trains right after that, as the catenary will have quickly hottened up already, unable to attract anymore ice rain until after the last train of the night.

At these much higher voltages, ice in switches tends to be a far bigger problem than ice on catenary.
Just about all of this is factually incorrect. Ice on the wires is a common issue with all catenary systems regardless of their voltage, and it happens almost everywhere around the world. Running a pantograph along the wire doesn't just magically turn the ice into steam/plasma, and the arcing of the line power causes all sorts of mayhem for the onboard electronics on the equipment. The manner in which the ice gets removed from the wires is generally from brittle fracture due to the pantograph passing under it and flexing the wire, not from any vapourization.

Thankfully, there are several ways of mitigating this, one the best of which you touched on below.

You can also use catenary scrapers, albiet more common in Russia -- called "vibropantographs" / "vibropantografs" (вибропантограф ) ahead of the pantograph to clear ice off the wire, so even the first train can remain full speed and stop the sparking/arcing. But our winters along our major rail routes aren't quite as bitter and icestorm-prone as Siberia.
There are other options too. Several places have experimented with applying an anti-freeze agent directly on the catenary wire. And I'm sure that there are other methods that are still being explored today as well.

As for our winters not being as cold as Russia, extreme cold has almost nothing to do with it. Most icing happens around 0C, when rain partially freezes into sleet and freezing rain.

Dan
 

ssiguy2

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RER catenary will be VASTLY less susceptible to weather conditions than streetcars currently are. Much of the delays/breakdowns of the streetcar system during adverse weather are due to cars getting into accidents during storms shutting down the route. The streetcars have to contend with thousands of cars and hundreds of intersections quite unlike nearly grade separated RER.

Conversely, catenary is very susceptible to weather conditions unlike battery {or hydrogen} but not just due to the wires themselves. Catenary systems work perfectly but only when everything else is. That does not just include internal RER infrastructure but also external. A storm may not effect the catenary wires but can very much effect the power going to those wires. Major storms of all types often cause power outages. These are very rarely huge regional events {ie all of the GTA power systems failing} but are common in smaller areas. As an example, the catenaries make be in fine shape in Miss but if there is a power outage in MIss, the entire Lakeshore West line comes to a screeching halt.

Catenary systems are at the mercy of Mother Nature's cooperation.........…of the 3 viable option, catenary is the least reliable when people are relying on it the most. Those catenary trains and hence entire routes are useless unlike if they employed battery or hydrogen where they would continue to work just fine.
 

smallspy

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RER catenary will be VASTLY less susceptible to weather conditions than streetcars currently are.
To the contrary, the RER catenary will be FAR more susceptible to weather conditions than the streetcars are. This has been borne out in almost every operating environment around the world.

Which do you think will have the clearer lines - the one where a train is passing every 15 minutes, or the with a train passing every 5?

The best way to keep the lines free of ice is to simply continue to run trains underneath them, and at frequencies that don't allow the ice to form into any substantial thickness.

Much of the delays/breakdowns of the streetcar system during adverse weather are due to cars getting into accidents during storms shutting down the route. The streetcars have to contend with thousands of cars and hundreds of intersections quite unlike nearly grade separated RER.
You're also making the assumption that the RER will be completely grade separated. Not only is it looking increasingly likely to not be the case, there's also the fact that accidents are just one small part of what can bring the system to a grinding halt.

Conversely, catenary is very susceptible to weather conditions unlike battery {or hydrogen} but not just due to the wires themselves. Catenary systems work perfectly but only when everything else is. That does not just include internal RER infrastructure but also external. A storm may not effect the catenary wires but can very much effect the power going to those wires. Major storms of all types often cause power outages. These are very rarely huge regional events {ie all of the GTA power systems failing} but are common in smaller areas. As an example, the catenaries make be in fine shape in Miss but if there is a power outage in MIss, the entire Lakeshore West line comes to a screeching halt.

Catenary systems are at the mercy of Mother Nature's cooperation.........…of the 3 viable option, catenary is the least reliable when people are relying on it the most. Those catenary trains and hence entire routes are useless unlike if they employed battery or hydrogen where they would continue to work just fine.
How do you charge a battery-powered system, then? If you think that the crew can simply walk over and plug a cable into the side of the equipment, you would be sorely mistaken.

And frankly, I think that you are putting way too much weight into this for the 5 days a year that icing is actually a concern. Catenary is far superior to batteries for the other 99.5% of the year.

Dan
 

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