Cost of bi-modes v's wiring-up

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Grumpy Git

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Does anyone know how much extra cash has been spent on buying bi-mode trains and how this cost compares to actually "putting the wires up"?

I know its not possible to make an absolute comparison as a bi-mode will always be able to travel to somewhere that was never destined to be electrified, (the fact that many major cities in the UK still do not have electrified lines is contemptible).
 
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GLC

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Coincidentally, I was listening to the Rail Natter podcast earlier today. In the latest episode (#60), it was stated that the IEP contract value was increased by £1.3 billion when specifying the enhanced bi-mode capabilities, which was about the price that the GWEP was estimated to overrun by before it was curtailed. Obviously the IEP contract has the price spread over the 27.5 years of service however
 

100andthirty

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This is not and can never be a direct comparison. The bi-mode suffers all sorts of compromises when operating in self powered mode. The biggest compromise is on performance. None of the bi-modes can deliver the acceleration of the OLE powered train. The exception is that battery powered versions might deliver the performance but will have a severely curtailed range.

As you say, GG, bi modes have their place in enabling operation beyond the limits of electrification whether these are permanent or temporary whilst the electrification progresses. The bi mode services from London to Aberdeen and Inverness are examples, but these might not last long as the Scottish government has ambitions to electrify from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness

Also, in a decarbonised world, for high speed, high capacity and freight, there is no realistic alternative to OLE electrification.

Coincidentally, I was listening to the Rail Natter podcast earlier today. In the latest episode (#60), it was stated that the IEP contract value was increased by £1.3 billion when specifying the enhanced bi-mode capabilities, which was about the price that the GWEP was estimated to overrun by before it was curtailed. Obviously the IEP contract has the price spread over the 27.5 years of service however
I think I would take that round number with a very large pinch of salt. That said, varying a train contract after it has been let is what all suppliers hope for as their pencils don't have to be as sharp as they are when competitively tendering!
 
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Grumpy Git

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Also take into account the additional wear and tear (and reduced acceleration) caused by lumping around a damn great big diesel engine and generator set when its under the wires.

We certainly like to do things "differently" in the UK. In all my 30 odd years working in continental Europe, I've only ever come across one unelectrified line.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Also take into account the additional wear and tear (and reduced acceleration) caused by lumping around a damn great big diesel engine and generator set when its under the wires.
We certainly like to do things "differently" in the UK. In all my 30 odd years working in continental Europe, I've only ever come across one unelectrified line.
SNCF has several bi-mode routes and seems to be keen on the Alstom Polyvalent design (diesel engines on the roof).
Paris-Troyes-Belfort is one, but they are also extending the wires to Troyes at the same time so it will be a mixed fleet of EMU and bi-mode.

Germany still has several pockets of diesel working, but it has a rolling wiring programme so the diesel areas will get smaller.
They are going for hydrogen trains in the north (also an Alstom Desiro design).
Denmark has a major wiring programme on the go, and has ordered straight EMUs rather than bi-modes.
Italy has gone for bi-modes in the far south-east and north-west.

Spain has its all-singing. all-dancing class 730 which is a bi-mode version of the class 130 dual gauge, dual voltage high-speed tilting train (Talgo/Bombardier design).
It runs on standard gauge high-speed 25kV AC lines at 250 km/h , and also on classic Iberian gauge routes, not all of which are 3kV DC electrified.
But its sphere of operation is diminishing as more high-speed lines open and more of the classic network is wired.
 
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Robbies

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Also take into account the additional wear and tear (and reduced acceleration) caused by lumping around a damn great big diesel engine and generator set when its under the wires.

We certainly like to do things "differently" in the UK. In all my 30 odd years working in continental Europe, I've only ever come across one unelectrified line.
There are other countries where bi - mode trains are used, such as Italy within the Aosta Valley region.
 

Snow1964

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Coincidentally, I was listening to the Rail Natter podcast earlier today. In the latest episode (#60), it was stated that the IEP contract value was increased by £1.3 billion when specifying the enhanced bi-mode capabilities, which was about the price that the GWEP was estimated to overrun by before it was curtailed. Obviously the IEP contract has the price spread over the 27.5 years of service however

I am sure there was a figure in Roger Fords column in Modern Railways a few months back, but I haven’t got it to hand. It related to upgrading Diesel engines from their restricted power settings which would increase maintenance and risk. Originally the diesels were to be used on lower speed add-on destinations beyond the wires, so were assumed to run only a much smaller proportion of time.
 

raetiamann

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Following various overhead problems over recent times, how does the cost of 3rd rail electrification compare in terms of cost?
 

Mikey C

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The 755s seem sensible use of Bimodes, a train which can use electric on the busy mainlines, but switch to diesel on quiet branch lines which would be a long way down the list of electrification priorities.
 

RyanOPlasty

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Following various overhead problems over recent times, how does the cost of 3rd rail electrification compare in terms of cost?

Third Rail is cheaper, but not considered suitable for new lines. It is not as safe and incapable of high speeds / high power demand.
 

24Grange

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The Bi-modes were brought it surely, as the cost of the gold plated wires was excessive (nearly twice that , I think of the Europe average?) on the GWR? and the government blanched at the cost. whether a bi-mode over its life time is more expensive than having a pure electric train I don't know. Besides there will always be some areas that you can't wire (I'm looking at you Dawlish). A bi-mode will also get you home if the power goes off for what ever reason.
 

stuu

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The Bi-modes were brought it surely, as the cost of the gold plated wires was excessive (nearly twice that , I think of the Europe average?) on the GWR? and the government blanched at the cost. whether a bi-mode over its life time is more expensive than having a pure electric train I don't know. Besides there will always be some areas that you can't wire (I'm looking at you Dawlish). A bi-mode will also get you home if the power goes off for what ever reason.
A Google image search for "Saltcoats waves" will show that there is no reason why Dawlish can't be electrified
 

AM9

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Why can’t you wire Dawlish? Have a look for videos of Saltcoats.
Even if it were allowed and compatible, 3rd rail would probably be far more unreliable than OLE at Dawlish

Third Rail is cheaper, but not considered suitable for new lines. It is not as safe and incapable of high speeds / high power demand.
Third rail, were it considered safe for new projects in the 21st century, would not necessarily be cheaper than OLE, especially in open countryside away from power connections. It's only bridge and tunnel etc., clearances that sometimes makes investment in OLE more expensive.
 
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24Grange

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OK- apologies to Dawlish - I read an article at some point ( probably when GWR electrification was in full swing) saying it was impossible to do Dawlish because of the salt water.
 

stuu

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It's a long running myth which refuses to die, despite the existence of places like Saltcoats, and has been written in the railway press in the past too
 

AM9

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OK- apologies to Dawlish - I read an article at some point ( probably when GWR electrification was in full swing) saying it was impossible to do Dawlish because of the salt water.
The problem that salt water at Dawlish gives (today) is that XC Voyagers have their electyro-rheostatic braking load resistors on the roof, and a dousing of them with salt water would cause chaos. As you can see from Saltcoats, Siemens class 380 EMUs seem to cope reasonably well with a briny soaking with the occasional flashover on their pantograph insulators.
 

Master29

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Does anyone know how much extra cash has been spent on buying bi-mode trains and how this cost compares to actually "putting the wires up"?

I know its not possible to make an absolute comparison as a bi-mode will always be able to travel to somewhere that was never destined to be electrified, (the fact that many major cities in the UK still do not have electrified lines is contemptible).
Are you asking this as per the current situation with IET's or just in general as the former may been seen to add weight to that assumption at present.
 

HSTEd

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The relative costs of the solutions depend entirely on the interest rate and capital defrayment term assumptions you make.

However, given the repeated cost overruns on line upgrades by Network Rail, it is not surprising that DfT has utterly lost faith in their ability to deliver anything.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Yes BiModes have a place but in a 9 car unit your carting around 18Tonnes of extra weight that costs energy every time you accelerate it and that should be factored in the cost of wiring vs trains capital costs + extra over operating costs
 

Julia

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Another practical advantage of the bimodes is that you can keep a lot more running in times of disruption*, either via non-electrified lines, or via lines that were electrified on the cheap. I don't travel often but have already had the joys of Newcastle-Edinburgh via Carlisle, and Doncaster-Peterborough via Lincoln multiple times. It's obviously a very useful feature for passenger experience, but I have no idea on the amount it saves in terms of refunds, replacement coaches, and goodwill.

*unless of course it's the bimodes themselves that are causing it :(
 

zwk500

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Another practical advantage of the bimodes is that you can keep a lot more running in times of disruption*, either via non-electrified lines, or via lines that were electrified on the cheap. I don't travel often but have already had the joys of Newcastle-Edinburgh via Carlisle, and Doncaster-Peterborough via Lincoln multiple times. It's obviously a very useful feature for passenger experience, but I have no idea on the amount it saves in terms of refunds, replacement coaches, and goodwill.

*unless of course it's the bimodes themselves that are causing it :(
The key benefit in this situation is also that you can get trains running over the de-wired section a lot quicker as it "only" needs the wire to be made safe and coasting boards put out. Gives control breathing room to get passengers moving first and then come up with a plan to secure access to the railway for full repairs.

One thing that hasn't been touched on much, if at all, is that the highest cost of the electrification is rebuilding the bridges for clearance, which gives a benefit beyond traction power. So by saving money on not putting wires up, it may also be restricting potential freight flows from using a route. Of course, conversely, if a line needs to be cleared regardless then building for OLE spec is sensible passive provision, even if the wires aren't erected straight away.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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The key benefit in this situation is also that you can get trains running over the de-wired section a lot quicker as it "only" needs the wire to be made safe and coasting boards put out. Gives control breathing room to get passengers moving first and then come up with a plan to secure access to the railway for full repairs.

One thing that hasn't been touched on much, if at all, is that the highest cost of the electrification is rebuilding the bridges for clearance, which gives a benefit beyond traction power. So by saving money on not putting wires up, it may also be restricting potential freight flows from using a route. Of course, conversely, if a line needs to be cleared regardless then building for OLE spec is sensible passive provision, even if the wires aren't erected straight away.
Umm thats why the rest of the world has opted for BiModes and not straight electrics..... Last mile emergency power is a sensible addition to manage wire down situation but if we are designing an overall system with that level of unreliability that we need BiModes as standard traction we are doing something wrong with the construction of the wiring in the first place.
 

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Yes BiModes have a place but in a 9 car unit your carting around 18Tonnes of extra weight that costs energy every time you accelerate it and that should be factored in the cost of wiring vs trains capital costs + extra over operating costs

Sure, but any option has a lot of ancillary costs - e.g. bi-modes can deliver benefits from day one, whereas pure-electric trains have to wait until the whole line is done before they can operate (or the cost and complication of drags).

Personally, I think bi-mode is a necessary solution - maybe an organised railway would have a fleet of bi-modes to run partly-wired lines that are then cascaded onto other routes once the current one is wired fully (e.g. you put 810s on London - Sheffield but once the electricity reaches South Yorkshire, you put the trains on Glasgow - Aberdeen or Manchester - Bournemouth or Hull - Manchester to benefit from the partial electrification so that these lines can be electrified incrementally - and then once the wires reach Aberdeen/ Hull etc you move the trains onto the next line... rinse and repeat...) - similarly once the wires reach Swansea/ Bristol you move some of the 800s away from the GWML and order more "pure" 801s instead.

But it'd be interesting to know how many miles of single track electrification you could deliver for the difference between total life costs of an "800" and total life costs of an "801"

As for the "eighteen tonnes of extra weights" - I suppose we could remove more weight by running shorter trains (maybe cramming passengers into 3+2 seats to accommodate them in fewer carriages) if you are worried about how much weight we carry around
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Sure, but any option has a lot of ancillary costs - e.g. bi-modes can deliver benefits from day one, whereas pure-electric trains have to wait until the whole line is done before they can operate (or the cost and complication of drags).

Personally, I think bi-mode is a necessary solution - maybe an organised railway would have a fleet of bi-modes to run partly-wired lines that are then cascaded onto other routes once the current one is wired fully (e.g. you put 810s on London - Sheffield but once the electricity reaches South Yorkshire, you put the trains on Glasgow - Aberdeen or Manchester - Bournemouth or Hull - Manchester to benefit from the partial electrification so that these lines can be electrified incrementally - and then once the wires reach Aberdeen/ Hull etc you move the trains onto the next line... rinse and repeat...) - similarly once the wires reach Swansea/ Bristol you move some of the 800s away from the GWML and order more "pure" 801s instead.

But it'd be interesting to know how many miles of single track electrification you could deliver for the difference between total life costs of an "800" and total life costs of an "801"

As for the "eighteen tonnes of extra weights" - I suppose we could remove more weight by running shorter trains (maybe cramming passengers into 3+2 seats to accommodate them in fewer carriages) if you are worried about how much weight we carry around
I like the idea of a fleet of BiModes that move around the network as lines are being electrified. Just needs a joined up railway!

The point about the extra weight is it consumes additional energy every time its accelerated over a straight electric versions which cost money but also potentially leads to unnecessary emissions in generation to provide that energy.
 
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