How are TOCs charged for electricity?

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py_megapixel

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Just a random thought I had recently...

Every TOC running electric trains on a given section of line shares the same OHLE, and therefore the same power supply, and all of this has to be maintained by Network Rail.
So how is each individual TOC billed for its usage?

Is an estimate for the amount of electricity that will be used per mile simply included in the track access charges (presumably this would have to be different per class), or do the trains have onboard electricity meters that have to be read every quarter, like domestic electricity billing? Or is there some other system?
 
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SynthD

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I think it’s part of the track use charges. A train probably draws electricity and wears down the rails in predictable ways per weight and axle count of the whole train.
 

swt_passenger

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They’re gradually changing to on train metering. But that doesn’t necessarily mean every train in a fleet has to have a meter, because they can assume that they can use a sample and model the expected usage against the normal timetable.
 

Deltic1

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I'm sure I read somewhere that some locos have meters fitted, although I've never come across one personally on the stuff I work on.
 

hexagon789

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Just a random thought I had recently...

Every TOC running electric trains on a given section of line shares the same OHLE, and therefore the same power supply, and all of this has to be maintained by Network Rail.
So how is each individual TOC billed for its usage?

Is an estimate for the amount of electricity that will be used per mile simply included in the track access charges (presumably this would have to be different per class), or do the trains have onboard electricity meters that have to be read every quarter, like domestic electricity billing? Or is there some other system?
It's based on train mileage so is a rough calculation rather than actually determining the energy used
 

swt_passenger

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Here’s a 2015 thread which discusses on train metering. It certainly isn’t that new:
 

hexagon789

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I'm sure I read somewhere that some locos have meters fitted, although I've never come across one personally on the stuff I work on.
Virgin and London Midland were fitting meters to certain trains as a trial about 10 years ago with a few to being charged less for their electricity costs because it would reflect that actual energy used rather than a rough figure calculated from train mileages. I'm not sure if anything came of the trials.
 

swt_passenger

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Virgin and London Midland were fitting meters to certain trains as a trial about 10 years ago with a few to being charged less for their electricity costs because it would reflect that actual energy used rather than a rough figure calculated from train mileages. I'm not sure if anything came of the trials.
It’s moved on significantly since then. There’s quite a long list of TOCs on the Network Rail site, each ORR letter describes which units in the fleets are metered.

 

pdeaves

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For some of the finer intricacies, go to the ORR public register (https://orrprdpubreg1.z33.web.core.windows.net/index.html) and type electricity in the search box. The first results page has changes to the agreed rules e.g. https://orrprdpubreg1.blob.core.win...ules appendix amendment notice (07-07-17).pdf has the power factor used for class 88. This track access contract https://orrprdpubreg1.blob.core.win...16-01 TAA London & Birmingham Railway Ltd.pdf has loads of stuff about traction electricity rules (search the term and skip through to the second half of the results for the more interesting stuff).
 

urbophile

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How disappointing! I was assuming there was a slot meter somewhere and drivers had to carry plenty of loose change.
 

Chris NS

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Apparently Virgin Trains East Coast got caught quietly clocking the meter back when they thought no-one would notice. The Electricity Board was all set to press charges, but they agreed in the end to strip Stagecoach of the franchise quietly.

Edit: Since not everyone noticed, this is a joke. The clue was in "quietly clocking the meter back when no-one would notice".
 
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Elecman

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Nothing to do with the Electricity Board, Network Rail buy the Traction power and pay through fiscal meters for it , they then recover the costs from the TOCs / FOCs. Less An allowance for Transmission losses and other Non Traction use of Traction Power.
 

bluenoxid

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With the advances in technology, there would be very little to stop half-hourly metering on trains. Your only issue would be transmission losses (but I don’t do fizzy engineering, so I’m sure someone can elaborate on the challenges/issues better)
 

Bald Rick

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With the advances in technology, there would be very little to stop half-hourly metering on trains. Your only issue would be transmission losses (but I don’t do fizzy engineering, so I’m sure someone can elaborate on the challenges/issues better)

As said above - many (if not all) trains have metering now.
 

Domh245

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With the advances in technology, there would be very little to stop half-hourly metering on trains. Your only issue would be transmission losses (but I don’t do fizzy engineering, so I’m sure someone can elaborate on the challenges/issues better)

What would be the benefit of half-hourly metering onboard the trains though?
 

D365

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What would be the benefit of half-hourly metering onboard the trains though?
Exactly. If you’re fitting ”smart meters”, it will be continuous metering, just like any domestic or industrial meter.
 

Dr Hoo

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Bear in mind that there is a difference between 'the amount of electricity that a train has consumed' (which is quite a challenge in itself with coupled multiple units and multiple pantographs or shoes) and 'the cost to Network Rail of providing that electricity'. Any idea that there is one single meter connected to the Grid in a cupboard under the stairs at Milton Keynes is rather wide of the mark. Depending on the time of day and where in GB you are the cost to Network Rail can vary quite significantly.
 

matt_world2004

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The electricity usage of London underground trains is not huge iirc it is something like £3 a mile.
 

Domh245

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Depending on the time of day and where in GB you are the cost to Network Rail can vary quite significantly.

Surely the agreement between NR and EDF for nuclear supply for the railway negates this somewhat - the cost of each unit should always be the same? I suppose the real variable factor is the transmission cost (or TNUoS) which tend to just be charged based on how much energy you used during the 3 highest half-hourly loads during the winter period, at least for most business customers?
 

XAM2175

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What would be the benefit of half-hourly metering onboard the trains though?
Exactly. If you’re fitting ”smart meters”, it will be continuous metering, just like any domestic or industrial meter.
"Half-hourly" meters still run continuously - the name refers to the fact that the meter's reading is recorded every half-hour, rather than daily like domestic smart meters or quarterly like a visually-read meter. It allows the consumer and supply to quantify electricity use in half-hour blocks that can be better matched to the spot-price for electricity prevailing at the time it was used.
 

Domh245

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"Half-hourly" meters still run continuously - the name refers to the fact that the meter's reading is recorded every half-hour, rather than daily like domestic smart meters or quarterly like a visually-read meter. It allows the consumer and supply to quantify electricity use in half-hour blocks that can be better matched to the spot-price for electricity prevailing at the time it was used.

I get that, I just query why it's useful to have that half hourly data at a vehicle level. I'd be rather surprised if Network Rail did any sort of TNUOS charging*, so knowing how much each train and/or TOC was using each half hour just seems unnecessary. AFAIK the unit price they get from EDF is (relatively) fixed, so it's not like they are particularly susceptible to swings in generation price either

*I can just imagine drivers being asked to coast/regen brake as much as possible during predicted triad periods!
 

SouthernR

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In this world of multiple bill calculators (sorry - "suppliers"), you can never have too much data. Wholesale electricity prices are revised every half hour. Unless a system is comprehensively metered in real time, a customer's cost of electricity can only be estimated.
[Smart meters are sold on the claim that they can save you money, but people should already be aware what appliances use the most electricity. The real reasons they're wanted are to enable bill calculators to estimate (share) costs more accurately, to enable variable pricing to be introduced (which is not a bad idea), and to reduce the number of meter readers.]
On the railway, as already stated, transmission losses can only be estimated, and regen braking has to be considered. Vehicle metering could be used to vary the charge or confirm an estimate, e.g. to identify a slow running or lightly loaded train, but you'd need to link the meter readings with the train location.
 

Bayum

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Apparently Virgin Trains East Coast got caught quietly clocking the meter back when they thought no-one would notice. The Electricity Board was all set to press charges, but they agreed in the end to strip Stagecoach of the franchise quietly.
Any sources to back this up?
 
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