If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

Overhead DC electrification - a potential solution to the conundrum of EMUs?

Discussion in 'Diesel & Electric Traction' started by eldomtom2, Aug 21, 2023.

  1. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2018
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Jersey
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    The topic of EMUs operating on preserved railways has long been discussed, but most of the discussion has focused on the possibility of a preserved railway installing third rail DC or overhead AC electrification. I would like to bring up a third possibility - that of installing overhead DC electrification. Unlike other forms of electrification, overhead DC wires are already in operation at multiple heritage tramways, and the ORR has not had problems with modern-day tramways extending their lines despite that meaning the installation of overhead DC wires on public roads. So in theory at least there should be no regulatory issues. A more obvious problem is the question of rolling stock, as I believe no overhead DC EMUs survive. However converting third rail DC stock to run on overhead power is perfectly possible - it has been done in America. Therefore, the primary question to me is this: could preserved third rail EMUs be converted to run on overhead DC power in a sympathetic and ideally reversible manner, and would that be acceptable to preservationists? There are also of course issues of finance, clearances, etc. which would also have to be met for any railway considering this.
     
  2. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    8,203
    Likes Received:
    5,211
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    The immediate response is that such a 'conversion' would destroy the concept of preservation in the original state to be operated in the original manner. It would obviously be convenient for AC overhead to still operate via overhead (DC) wiring but the cost and engineering effort may prove a financial cost too far. This is an ideal 'What if' question but the practicalities and cost may prove too great for a cash-strapped heritage line to undertake.
     
  3. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    25,147
    Likes Received:
    23,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    If any such ideas were proposed, I'd be interested to see how they might be implemented without undermining the basic concept of preservation of the train - preferably modelled using an Mk3 based unit to test the engineering viability due to their integral structure. I'd also be concerned to validate the assumption that the analogy with a tram system would be viable, given the very different power consumption of a tramcar compared with a full blown EMU.

    However, I suspect the engineering issues are a distraction from the real challenges, which are about people and interest.
     
    Romsey, Chris86 and Jamessquared like this.
  4. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    14,124
    Likes Received:
    16,162
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I wouldn’t worry about the issues of finance and clearances, no cash strapped railway would even consider such a mad idea
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2023
    SERA01UK and Martin Adalar like this.
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    25,957
    Likes Received:
    56,746
    Location:
    LBSC 215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Let’s just park for a moment the questions of technical and regulatory viability. From a purely heritage point of view, it is not just the question of the heritage integrity of the converted unit: there is also the heritage integrity of the converted station. Can you imagine the level of visual intrusion were you to say, for example, “in order to operate the Ardingly branch with heritage EMUs, we are going to erect overhead catenary through platforms 1 and 2 at Horsted Keynes (for which there is no historical precedent)?”

    If there is going to be any viability of preserved EMUs off the mainline, the only scheme I can imagine would be battery. But as @35B says, “real challenges […] are about people and interest.”

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2023
    mdewell and 35B like this.
  6. hoffman

    hoffman New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2016
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    53
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Suffolk
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Without knowing the feasibility from an engineering perspective, I would have thought a coach stuffed with batteries might be more likely?
     
    35B likes this.
  7. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    25,147
    Likes Received:
    23,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    On a point of order, such electrification might be considered authentic at Horsted Keynes given LBSCR precedents, provided that it was implemented in the correct early 20th century style. This might also be considered to be straining at a gnat.

    * - other examples of strict inaccuracy but within the spirit of the railway might be suggested to include Ivatt tanks on the IoW, or post Grouping locomotives hauling pre-Grouping 4 wheelers on the Bluebell.
     
  8. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2018
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Jersey
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Who precisely would the "visual intrusion" have to be justified to? Heritage railways already have a variety of non-authentic features (and some would argue that it's worse when they're made to blend in with the authentic features).
    I would perhaps have thought so too, but I've heard that there are issues with getting that power from the coach to the multiple unit.
     
  9. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    25,147
    Likes Received:
    23,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Planning authorities would have a view, especially where a site is listed. I also suggest that the railway's membership might also express a view - where the risk is less a veto and more a loss of support (moral/practical/financial) from existing supporters.
     
  10. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    14,124
    Likes Received:
    16,162
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    People go to heritage railways to experience travel from a different age, I can go to my local station and see all the overhead knitting. Who do you think would pay for it? If you think this crackpot idea is a goer then start a fund to build your own railway and good luck.
     
  11. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    14,078
    Likes Received:
    7,588
    Occupation:
    Layabout
    Location:
    Lurking
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    The trams at Statfold are battery powered. OHLE and open-roof trams?
     
  12. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    25,147
    Likes Received:
    23,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I think you’re a little harsh. Crich style knitting is pretty unobtrusive, while my (only part facetious) suggestion of LBSC style overhead could be argued to reinforce the heritage atmosphere - in a way that BR style overhead would not.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  13. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    14,124
    Likes Received:
    16,162
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Crich is a tramway museum, except in Central London, trams used overhead wires. It’s totally different but it won’t happen so not worth discussing further
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2023
  14. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    1,583
    Likes Received:
    1,994
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Suffolk
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I take it you wouldn't bother going to this museum then........ (and they run trams - and trolleybuses - on seperate operations there)



    They run steam, diesel and electric traction on their line!
     
  15. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    14,124
    Likes Received:
    16,162
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    It’s a tramway!!
     
  16. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    1,583
    Likes Received:
    1,994
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Suffolk
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    If you actually looked at the video, or researched the place in question, it might actually surprise you to learn that it is a 3'6" gauge MAINLINE STANDARD preserved line in New Zealand. They operate steam/diesel and electrics - which include a pair of mainline electric locos, one from the Christchurch-Littleton line and one from the Otira Tunnel electrification on the Christchurch-Greymouth line. The also have preserved suburban EMU's from the Wellington area.

    Perhaps you might like to look at their stock list, in case you think it's a "tramway"....... https://www.canterburyrailwaysociety.org.nz/rolling-stock/

    For the avoidance of doubt THIS is their tramway - which is Standard gauge and operated by steam and electric traction under steet tramway style overhead......

    r93-197.jpg
    r93-194.jpg

    r00-356a.jpg
    I've even driven that ex Brisbane car on their tramway the last time I was there.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2023
    acorb, The Green Howards and 35B like this.
  17. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    14,124
    Likes Received:
    16,162
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    OK they've made it look like a tramway. It just won't happen on a heritage line in this country.
     
  18. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    14,078
    Likes Received:
    7,588
    Occupation:
    Layabout
    Location:
    Lurking
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Hmmm. LNER 6701 and some teaks... I'd pay to see that :)
     
    2392 likes this.
  19. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2018
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Jersey
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Of course this is talking about hypothetical reactions, and in any case I think in both cases neither would solely be making decisions based on what is "heritage" or not.
    I'm rather baffled at the idea that overhead wires are somehow inherently contrary to "experiencing travel from a different age". Overhead electrification is over a century old. Heritage tramways don't suffer from people being able to go to modern tramways and see their overhead wires.
     
  20. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    1,583
    Likes Received:
    1,994
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Suffolk
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Its a shame that the proposed Spen Valley preservation scheme never really progressed beyond the planning/stock accumulation stage before being killed off, as that would have already solved the lack of a Preserved line with overhead electrification and things like 27000 and the 506 (long scrapped) would be running there today.
     

Share This Page