Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’
|London Euston to Leeds New Lane (HS2YN)||300|
|London Kings Cross to Leeds City (ECML)||299|
|London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly (HS2YN)||304|
|London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe (WCML)||304|
|WCML = West Coast Main Line
ECML = East Coast Main Line
HS2YN = HS2 Y network (28 Jan 2013, HS2 Ltd)
It’s been claimed that high speed rail is more efficient than classic rail, because the route between destinations is more direct. Certainly, the Madrid — Sevilla and Paris — Lyon high speed lines are shorter than their classic analogues, but chainages in Great Britain’s HS2 show no advantage over the legacy system.
For maximum energy efficiency, the idealised intercity scenario might be a constant train speed of perhaps 200 km/h on straight and level track, with no tunnels, and no stops (e.g. red lights). Obviously, any real-world line does not and could not meet the ideal, but HS2’s combination of trophy maximum speeds, steep gradients, lengthy tunnels, and low load factors make it a bad proposition in sustainability terms.
Midland Metro, which runs between Birmingham and the Black Country, is a tramway system seemingly designed to encourage the use of private cars. Fares are extremely high, services stop every few hundred yards, connectivity is poor, and cycle-enabled journeys are not supported. None of the Midland Metro stops offer secure cycle storage. No surprise, then, that ridership has stagnated at around 5 million passengers a year ever since it opened in 1999.
In April 2012, transport authority Centro signed a contract to acquire ‘up to 25’ CAF Urbos 3 tramcars to replace the Ansaldo T69s used on the Midland Metro. However, Centro has stated that it does not intend to remove the current prohibition on bicycle carriage.
The first section of Tranvía de Zaragoza, the Aragonese capital’s new tramway, opened in April 2011, and it uses Urbos 3s, which are manufactured locally. The operating company allows riders to take their bikes on the tram.
Las bicis son bienvenidas, se permite entrar con ellas al tranvía cuando el periodo de paso de unidades por paradas es mayor a cinco minutos, siempre y cuando no suponga molestias para el resto de usuarios en caso de alta ocupación.
Like Siemens’ ICE3, the Alstom AGV is a ‘distributed traction’ high speed train (in which traction motors are dispersed beneath the carriages, instead of having power cars at each end of the trainset). The 200-metre long AGV11 variant was used by HS2 Ltd as its ‘Reference train’ in the development of its proposed Y network between London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester. And according to Railnews writer Alan Marshall
the AGV uses no more energy (nor generates any more carbon dioxide) per seat at 300km/h (186 mph) than a Virgin tilting Pendolino (based on an earlier Alstom design) running at only 200km/h (125 mph) on Britain’s West Coast Main Line.
Mr Marshall claimed that the ‘AGV’s ‘green credentials’ were disclosed in an analysis in an April 2009 ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) report by Richard Davies and Leigh Thompson.
ATOC undertook the analysis of carbon dioxide (CO2) impacts of High Speed Rail for Greengauge 21, the not-for-profit organisation established in 2006 to research and develop the concept of a High Speed Rail network.
The report also makes clear that rail’s ability to improve its carbon footprint by carrying more passengers with the same energy consumption is constrained by Britain’s restricted structure gauge and the inability of the infrastructure to permit operation of very long trains — whereas a new line will enable longer trains with duplex accommodation, so the energy demand per seat kilometre can be kept very low.
“A double-deck, double-unit TGV Duplex train, for example, offers 1,090 seats in twenty vehicles compared to the 439 seats that the nine-cars of a Pendolino can offer — a significant capacity advantage that would remain even after most of these have been extended to 11 cars,” said Davies and Thompson, who added: “The trains used are also typically longer, so that the aerodynamic drag of the front end of the train (which is a significant energy cost at high speed) is spread over perhaps 16 to 18 carriages rather than the UK norm of eight to 10 carriages.”
A new AGV operating at 300km/h will consume 0.033 kWh of electricity per seat kilometre, they say. The AGV’s construction and distributed power system along the train means the total mass per seat is just 0.78 tonnes. By comparison, a Virgin Pendolino on the WCML has a mass per seat of 1.055 tonnes — 35 per cent greater than an AGV — so at only 200km/h (125mph) its energy consumption is the same as the AGV going 50 per cent faster.
A Eurostar — a TGV scaled down to fit within the UK structure gauge — has a mass of 0.96 tonnes per seat and an energy consumption of 0.041 kWh per seat/km.
What useful conclusions can be drawn from the ATOC ‘research’? The answer seems to be: none whatsoever. Comparing the energy per seat of a 9-car Pendolino at 200 km/h and a HS2 Reference train (AGV) at 300 km/h is not informative. HS2 is planned as a 400 km/h railway, with trains running, from the very start, at 330 km/h or more. Hyping AGV ‘reduced train mass’ is not going to be particularly helpful at 300 km/h or above, because at those speeds, aerodynamic drag is the major factor in train energy consumption, and energy required rises steeply (approximately as the square of the speed). A less misleading energy per seat calculation would be: 11-car Pendolino at 200 km/h, versus AGV11 at 330 or 350 km/h.
Neither the cruise speed nor the maximum speed of trains on the Y network is planned as 300 km/h, and the energy per seat calculations favoured by ATOC obviously take no account of load factor. The primary statistic for comparison should be energy per passenger-kilometre, not energy per seat-kilometre.
Spreading the aerodynamic drag of the front end of the train “over perhaps 16 to 18 carriages rather than the UK norm of eight to 10 carriages” is never going to be of much use, if most of the carriages are empty. When the 18-car Eurostar service between London, Brussels, and Paris first started, the load factor was very low (reported as around 20%), so the seat-kilometre and passenger-kilometre energy measures would give completely different messages.
HS2 Ltd gave the overall load factor forecast for its new line as 58%, which is higher than the average for British long distance high speed services, but nowhere near high enough to compensate for the additional energy its trains would use. HS2 is planned to have ‘similar fares’ to the legacy network, which obviously poses a credibility problem for the ‘58% load factor’. If the HS2 fare structure is going to be similar to the legacy network, how could its load factor be significantly higher? Answers on a post card to: Andrew McNaughton’s There’s-No-Answer-To-That Waste Paper Basket, HS2 Ltd, Eland House, London, SW1.
The claim that
rail’s ability to improve its carbon footprint by carrying more passengers with the same energy consumption is constrained by Britain’s restricted structure gauge and the inability of the infrastructure to permit operation of very long trains — whereas a new line will enable longer trains with duplex accommodation, so the energy demand per seat kilometre can be kept very low
is drivel. On a per-metre length basis, an AGV has no more accommodation than a British loading gauge train (such as a Pendolino). The AGV is currently not available in a double deck version, so its larger cross-section makes its less aerodynamically efficient than a modern standard train built to British loading gauge.
HS2 would certainly not permit generalised operation of longer passenger trains in Britain. Indeed, the standard (off-peak) train length in the HS2 scheme is 200 metres, which is shorter than existing trains like the Pendolino. Operation of 400-metre long HS2 trains would only ever be possible on the new build track — which would only serve London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester directly.
On 20 March, I toddled along to the council house to hear the Birmingham Friends of the Earth City of the Future debate on a ‘better economy’ for Birmingham, which was chaired by Alun Thorne (editor of the Birmingham Post). The well-attended event had four invited speakers:
- Julia Slay (New Economics Foundation)
- Oliver Bettis (Centre for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy)
- Dr Helen Borland (Aston Business School), and
- David Powell (national FOE economics team).
Each panellist spoke for around five minutes, and there then followed questions from the floor, and from a four-person ‘examining panel’, which included Dr Simon Slater, of Sustainability West Midlands.
Unlike last year’s high speed rail debate, the CotF speaker panel didn’t really have ‘sides’. All the speakers’ presentations might be described as New Economic in nature, though it was unclear as to how much agreement there was on specific ideas. It’d be fair to say that the language used was well outside of the political mainstream — in Birmingham, the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat parties all talk the language of “growth”, and the “growth agenda”, although the national economy appears to be in quasi-stagnation.
Although billed as being about the economy in Birmingham, the discussion wasn’t particularly Birmingham-specific. It was largely about ideas that might find application in any large community, and some of them seemed to be fairly broad-brush concepts that needed refinement. Ms Slay discussed personal time banking, and Mr Bettis put forward the idea of a local currency running parallel to sterling. Mr Powell berated the leaders of Greater Manchester for allowing a referendum on congestion charging. Dr Borland spoke of the resistance in some university business schools to the notion of teaching sustainability.
Divisions between new and ‘received’ economics cropped up in a question from the floor concerning the extent to which the Birmingham Post covers, or doesn’t cover, sustainability issues. Mr Thorne explained that he wanted to cover these topics, but the Post’s content as a whole needed to be commercially viable. And to be fair to him, the coverage question is one that applies to the wider media. To give an example, in the last ten years, BBC WM has probably devoted hundreds of hours to football phone-ins. But in that period, how many programmes have they had about sustainability, or the economy?