Is the leccy supply to the railway 'just enough'?

Ken H

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I have been following https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/bemus-and-on-route-charging.222106/

The discussion has got round to whether there is enough slack in the supply to the 3rd rail network to support charging BEMU's for Uckfield.

Which leads to the question. Is there spare capacity in the electric supply to the railway or do the controllers bite their nails a lot?
And when when new kit is installed, do they size it for just enough, or plenty of spare for future use?

This also prompted by the supply problems in Northumberland with TPE bimodal running on diesel and Newcastle - Morpeth being DMU
 
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najaB

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And when when new kit is installed, do they size it for just enough, or plenty of spare for future use?
As always, they buy as much spare capacity as they can, keeping in mind that the budget is often not quite enough for what they're being asked to do.
 

swt_passenger

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Just enough for the current or recent timetable. They are usually playing catch-up, whether it is on the Southern DC network, or the major mainlines - there are capacity problems all over the northern ECML at the moment forcing bimode strains to run on Diesel.
 

Ken H

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Just enough for the current or recent timetable. They are usually playing catch-up, whether it is on the Southern DC network, or the major mainlines - there are capacity problems all over the northern ECML at the moment forcing bimode strains to run on Diesel.
I assume the ECML kit was sized for hourly cl91's and nothing else. So as you say, they are playing catchup big time.
 

class26

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I assume the ECML kit was sized for hourly cl91's and nothing else. So as you say, they are playing catchup big time.
But they have known for years that the 800`s would (hopefully) run on electric on the mainline, it`s hardly been sprung on them
 

swt_passenger

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But they have known for years that the 800`s would (hopefully) run on electric on the mainline, it`s hardly been sprung on them
It’s all about the lead times for the grid connections, high voltage equipment, planning applications etc. 4 or 5 years is mentioned elsewhere as being fairly typical.
 

najaB

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But they have known for years that the 800`s would (hopefully) run on electric on the mainline, it`s hardly been sprung on them
And they've been working on improving the supply for years as well. But it takes time - you can't just plonk down a multi-megawatt substation and expect it to be connected straightaway.
 

SynthD

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It’s a bit of a moving target, with the reactions to demand as said above. While it may be easy to say there’ll be a new substation built at X and running by Y, we can’t say how much surplus power that will provide. It might be earmarked for an electric bus depot or simply local growth. What’s the fact based way to start to answer the good question in the title?
 

The Planner

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Power supply causes nervous looks in a lot of places. Not just those mentioned.
 

swt_passenger

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It’s a bit of a moving target, with the reactions to demand as said above. While it may be easy to say there’ll be a new substation built at X and running by Y, we can’t say how much surplus power that will provide. It might be earmarked for an electric bus depot or simply local growth. What’s the fact based way to start to answer the good question in the title?
Your example of a bus depot and local growth would be a problem for the local distribution network, and not on the scale of change NR causes.

Part of the problem specifically with railway overhead 25 kV electrification is that it didn‘t usually form a balanced 3 phase load, and was usually a single phase connection to the higher voltage part of the national grid. Recent developments sometimes use static frequency changers to make the load balanced at the supply side, and these can be connected to lower voltage parts of the overall distribution network.

But there’s a thread about ECML power upgrades that covers a lot of the same questions:
 

WAO

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But they have known for years that the 800`s would (hopefully) run on electric on the mainline, it`s hardly been sprung on them
Not perhaps in 1989 when the ECML wiring was designed.

The power supply was engineered - that is designed to cover a specific use pattern from TT modelling with something in hand. There were also unavoidable pinch points, like Marshall Meadows. What has caused the need for upgrades, is the large increase in installed power of new traction, use of inverters rather than series resistance control and more traffic. The link between traction requirement and availability seems to have been lost at privatisation, with orders going abroad to makers unused to British (limited) traction supplies. Standards have also risen and technology developed beyond like-for-like renewals.

The Class 91 had an emulator program to allow it to pretend to be lesser loco's and so be more widely useful.

Time marches on from BR days and its technical solutions are (invisibly) date-stamped.

WAO
 

Bald Rick

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Which leads to the question. Is there spare capacity in the electric supply to the railway or do the controllers bite their nails a lot?
And when when new kit is installed, do they size it for just enough, or plenty of spare for future use?

Is there spare capacity - yes in some place, no in others.

Do the controllers bite their nails a lot - no, but the traction power engineers do.

When new kit is sized, it is sized for reasonably expected future power demands. However these change. Also traction power is a simple but complicated subject - you can provide kit in one place that is future compatible with additional kit furthe4 along the line that is installed much later.
 

noddingdonkey

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Wasn't there an issue the first time they tried to send a 91 to Skipton and every 308 on the triangle sat down?

I believe they electrified it on the cheap, but the 333s were able to cope so Skipton workings were able to be 91 hauled eventually.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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I believe they electrified it on the cheap, but the 333s were able to cope so Skipton workings were able to be 91 hauled eventually.
Lets be clear everything BR did was built down to a cost to get the project passed the treasury that doesn't make it cheap as endless people on this forum refer to BR electrification schemes delivered in the 1980's. The reality was it was electrified to meet the requirements of the day anything more and the treasury would bounce it.

On all the SR schemes the diesel stock needed replacing and the budget wasn't there but because BR traction engineers had improved reliability of the stock more could be sweated from the fleet to cover the electrification schemes and the treasury liked that. In all schemes we were led by the operations department about what level of service they wanted to operate, what type of stock and formations the services would utilise. These factors were then used to optimise the system design which could also cater for N-1 outage of a DC substation and one part of the HV distribution network supplying the substations without impairing the timetabled service. Hastings Line requirements were 12 car to Tunbridge Wells and an 8 car hourly service, half hourly in peak, from there to Hastings. This led us to selecting 11kv for the trackside HV distribution scheme because it was substantially more cost effective than 33kV would have been lowering the cost of the HV distribution system by 40%. We also used XPLE 11kV HV cables, this was first use in the UK, which were very innovative for the time and seen as risky by many established engineers, both within BR and the Area Electricity Boards, but its still in operational use 35 years on.

What BR never foresaw, or couldn't convince the treasury, was the "sparks" effect that electrification schemes would engender that rendered many schemes with inadequate traction power supplies to respond to growing demand. In hindsight Hastings line should have been 33kV as its the 11kV distribution that restricts this line as it would have been a dam site more cost effective than what NR will now be able to deliver the scheme for but that wasn't the name of the game in 1984.

Fortunately the changes to the industry have allowed NR to plan new electrification with the future in mind and secure 25kV supply points with 80MVA capacity that was only dreamed of when we were designing ECML. However, lets not forget that what we did in the 1980's was keep the show on the road that ensured the network stayed intact so its here today and if its needs upgrading that's a measure of success of the industry not one of failure.
 

uww11x

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A good example of not enough juice is around Preston. A few 331,397s and some 90s in the area at the same time quite often causes issues.
 

DanNCL

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Spare power capacity is useful, as was seen in late 2019/early 2020 when 91s worked to Stirling, somewhere they were never previously intended to run to, as a stop gap for the late arrival of the full 80x fleet. Without spare power capacity that wouldn’t have been able to happen.

This also prompted by the supply problems in Northumberland with TPE bimodal running on diesel and Newcastle - Morpeth being DMU
The use of DMUs for Newcastle - Morpeth is actually unrelated to the power supply issues further north. It’s for two main reasons, to allow the services to run through to/from the unelectrified Tyne Valley line, and so that Northern doesn’t have to keep a micro fleet of EMUs at Heaton.

I assume the ECML kit was sized for hourly cl91's and nothing else. So as you say, they are playing catchup big time.
I believe north of Newcastle it was for one 91 and one freight per hour the original spec. Electric freight has very rarely used the ECML, so in more recent years the path was taken up by a second hourly 91, now of course both paths use 800/801s.

Wasn't there an issue the first time they tried to send a 91 to Skipton and every 308 on the triangle sat down?

I believe they electrified it on the cheap, but the 333s were able to cope so Skipton workings were able to be 91 hauled eventually.
Yes. The power supply was sufficient to handle the 308s or a 91, but not both at the same time. It took until 2011 for 91s to begin working to Skipton, long after the 308s went, so I would guess some work had to be done first before the 91s were used. I find it hard to believe that nearly 10 years would pass by using HSTs on an electrified route without even thinking of trying to use a 91 on it.
 

quattromatt

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Wasn't there an issue the first time they tried to send a 91 to Skipton and every 308 on the triangle sat down?

I believe they electrified it on the cheap, but the 333s were able to cope so Skipton workings were able to be 91 hauled eventually.
I believe a new substation had to be installed between keighley and skipton before 91s could run on the aire valley line.
 

Elecman

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A good example of not enough juice is around Preston. A few 331,397s and some 90s in the area at the same time quite often causes issues.
That is true at the extremity at Blackpool North due to single end feeding but the WCML itself will be fine when the AT system is competed
 

Taunton

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When the ECML electrification was done in 1991, it was roughly 350 miles from Peterborough to Edinburgh, plus Leeds. All that was provided for it was the 31 Class 91s. Given that half a dozen would typically be at the London end, that was about one electric loco every 15 miles or so. There was no need to overprovide power supplies for that. There must have been long intervals for some substations, even in the daytime, when there was nothing being drawn at all. All the reinforcement of service after 1991 had to be done with HSTs wholly under the wires.
 

uww11x

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That is true at the extremity at Blackpool North due to single end feeding but the WCML itself will be fine when the AT system is competed
It affects Preston, had a few driver report low power in the area when there is loads of electrics running
 

D6130

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Wasn't there an issue the first time they tried to send a 91 to Skipton and every 308 on the triangle sat down?

I believe they electrified it on the cheap, but the 333s were able to cope so Skipton workings were able to be 91 hauled eventually.
I believe a new substation had to be installed between keighley and skipton before 91s could run on the aire valley line.
The issue at Skipton was that - because the electrification was done, like many other schemes, on a financial shoestring and it was deemed highly unlikely to ever extend beyond Skipton - the final twelve miles of the route were fed by a single feeder station at Bingley, where there would normally be another at Skipton, had it been on a through electrified route. This had a twofold effect on the route: firstly that the voltage dropped to about 17 Kv by Skipton and secondly, because of the lack of a feeder station and associated neutral section at Skipton South, it was - and still is - impossible to keep Skipton station and sidings live when there is a planned or unplanned electrical isolation of the section from Bingley. This causes all sorts of issues with the overnight unit shunting, washing and cleaning at Skipton and involves a lot of careful planning by the night shunt drivers, signallers and electrical controllers. Although I have been retired for nine years, I'm not aware of a new feeder station having been built between Keighley and Skipton. I believe it was more a matter of upgrading the existing feeder at Bingley with additional equipment to boost the supply for running the 91s....and now the Azumas.
 

Bald Rick

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When the ECML electrification was done in 1991, it was roughly 350 miles from Peterborough to Edinburgh, plus Leeds. All that was provided for it was the 31 Class 91s

When it was authorised in 1984, it was for 30 or so Class 89s and about 30 Class 87/2s (subsequently reclassified as Class 90s) for freight / Parcels / Paper trains etc. Plus the 317/2s for the south end.
 

Taunton

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When it was authorised in 1984, it was for 30 or so Class 89s and about 30 Class 87/2s (subsequently reclassified as Class 90s) for freight / Parcels / Paper trains etc. Plus the 317/2s for the south end.
If I'm not mistaken no freight/parcels/paper services were ever electrically hauled on the ECML?
 
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Although I have been retired for nine years, I'm not aware of a new feeder station having been built between Keighley and Skipton. I believe it was more a matter of upgrading the existing feeder at Bingley with additional equipment to boost the supply for running the 91s....and now the Azumas.
Quite frankly the only way anything will happen regarding power supply beyond Bingley would be in the unlikely scenario that the line to Colne reopened and electrified all of the way to Preston with an additional hypothetical 2tph running from along the Airedale line (I’m allowed to dream).
 

GRALISTAIR

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That is true at the extremity at Blackpool North due to single end feeding but the WCML itself will be fine when the AT system is competed
When I last checked it was missing from just south of Euxton Jct - past Preston station, past my UK home in Broughton and to Catterall. I think north of Caterall it is complete.

It affects Preston, had a few driver report low power in the area when there is loads of electrics running
 

DanNCL

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If I'm not mistaken no freight/parcels/paper services were ever electrically hauled on the ECML?
Just the daily (sometimes with extras around the Christmas/New Year period) Low Fell - Willesden parcels trip, which still remains to this day albeit now using a 325 rather than a 90. The remainder of the envisaged electric freight never materialised, with the capacity in the power supply for it instead being used by extra 91 hauled passenger services.
 

quattromatt

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The issue at Skipton was that - because the electrification was done, like many other schemes, on a financial shoestring and it was deemed highly unlikely to ever extend beyond Skipton - the final twelve miles of the route were fed by a single feeder station at Bingley, where there would normally be another at Skipton, had it been on a through electrified route. This had a twofold effect on the route: firstly that the voltage dropped to about 17 Kv by Skipton and secondly, because of the lack of a feeder station and associated neutral section at Skipton South, it was - and still is - impossible to keep Skipton station and sidings live when there is a planned or unplanned electrical isolation of the section from Bingley. This causes all sorts of issues with the overnight unit shunting, washing and cleaning at Skipton and involves a lot of careful planning by the night shunt drivers, signallers and electrical controllers. Although I have been retired for nine years, I'm not aware of a new feeder station having been built between Keighley and Skipton. I believe it was more a matter of upgrading the existing feeder at Bingley with additional equipment to boost the supply for running the 91s....and now the Azumas.
I knew they’d had to do something to stop the 91’s popping circuit breakers up there.
 

Elecman

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When I last checked it was missing from just south of Euxton Jct - past Preston station, past my UK home in Broughton and to Catterall. I think north of Caterall it is complete.
correct, all the AT substations are complete just the cabling never completed
 

Speed43125

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But they have known for years that the 800`s would (hopefully) run on electric on the mainline, it`s hardly been sprung on them
The 800s do all run on Electric. Its TPE 802s which have to run on Diesel with changeover in Newcastle.
 

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