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New trains more polluting than cars!

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Howard
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New trains more polluting than cars!

#442930

Postby Howard » September 17th, 2021, 10:30 am

This article suggests passengers are subject to high levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution when travelling on brand-new trains which switch from electric to diesel power.

Traingate?

Driving a train is like driving a VW diesel? You couldn't make it up. ;)

I haven't checked the science behind the article, but the the Rail Safety and Standards Board presumably know what they are talking about.

They certainly suggest that it is not advisable to sit at the back of the train when it is driven off the electrified network in the West Country.

regards

Howard

Pollution on some new UK trains ‘13 times one of London’s busiest roads’

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/202 ... iest-roads

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#442944

Postby Alaric » September 17th, 2021, 11:02 am

Howard wrote:They certainly suggest that it is not advisable to sit at the back of the train when it is driven off the electrified network in the West Country.


I don't think they are as expert as they might think. The trains that now run to the West Country can run on both electric and diesel. You won't find a locomotive at either the front or rear of the train, as the diesel engines are under the floor. There are areas in the nose and tail that don't accommodate passengers, but these are required under the rules governing trains allowed to travel at 125 mph.

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#442960

Postby Howard » September 17th, 2021, 11:37 am

Alaric wrote:
Howard wrote:They certainly suggest that it is not advisable to sit at the back of the train when it is driven off the electrified network in the West Country.


I don't think they are as expert as they might think. The trains that now run to the West Country can run on both electric and diesel. You won't find a locomotive at either the front or rear of the train, as the diesel engines are under the floor. There are areas in the nose and tail that don't accommodate passengers, but these are required under the rules governing trains allowed to travel at 125 mph.


Reading the article the RSSB are pretty definite about the characteristics of both brand new diesel/electric and slightly older trains running to the West Country.

"Pollution increases significantly when trains are in tunnels or idling in stations, the RSSB said. Passengers on trains pulled by diesel locomotives are more exposed to fumes when sitting in rear rather than front carriages, the researchers found, possibly due to the how the exhaust is drawn into the train’s windows or air conditioning system."

And the Transport minister appears to take the research pretty seriously:

"I have asked the industry to immediately conduct further research and explore all engineering modifications and options to rapidly improve air quality on trains and in stations."

Of course the latter statement from a politician may have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

My (totally non-scientific) experience of travelling in diesel trains is from before lockdown and limited. But I certainly could smell diesel fumes both inside and outside trains, especially standing on a platform near an idling train.

regards

Howard

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#442968

Postby Alaric » September 17th, 2021, 11:48 am

Howard (RSSB) wrote: Passengers on trains pulled by diesel locomotives are more exposed to fumes when sitting in rear rather than front carriages, the researchers found, possibly due to the how the exhaust is drawn into the train’s windows or air conditioning system.


That's nonsense, because there aren't locomotives doing the pulling. The new trains are powered by engines under the carriages. With only limited exceptions, diesel locomotives are only used nowadays on freight trains. Plenty of diesel passenger trains of course, but they are almost all self powered with built in engines.

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#442987

Postby Howard » September 17th, 2021, 12:46 pm

Alaric wrote:
Howard (RSSB) wrote: Passengers on trains pulled by diesel locomotives are more exposed to fumes when sitting in rear rather than front carriages, the researchers found, possibly due to the how the exhaust is drawn into the train’s windows or air conditioning system.


That's nonsense, because there aren't locomotives doing the pulling. The new trains are powered by engines under the carriages. With only limited exceptions, diesel locomotives are only used nowadays on freight trains. Plenty of diesel passenger trains of course, but they are almost all self powered with built in engines.


Have you read the article? The researchers were well aware of the design of the trains' motive systems (especially the new Hitachi bi-modes). Unless you are an expert on new train design, I guess they know a lot more about the technical details of the diesel engines and the air conditioning systems than you do? And are you questioning the research findings?

I know nothing about the design of trains, but if you look at the RSSB website, they appear to have more than a modest understanding of train design and safety.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board is a British independent company limited by guarantee. Interested parties include various rail industry organisations, including Network Rail, train operating companies, and rolling stock companies.

Of course, if you have more expertise than the RSSB, I doff my hat to you. ;)

regards

Howard

https://www.rssb.co.uk/en

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#442992

Postby Alaric » September 17th, 2021, 12:54 pm

Howard wrote:Of course, if you have more expertise than the RSSB, I doff my hat to you. ;)


I know that the advice to sit at the rear of the train to avoid the "locomotive" is rubbish, because there isn't one. Perhaps unlike the author of the misleading advice , I've actually travelled in one.

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443003

Postby Howard » September 17th, 2021, 1:13 pm

Alaric wrote:
Howard wrote:Of course, if you have more expertise than the RSSB, I doff my hat to you. ;)


I know that the advice to sit at the rear of the train to avoid the "locomotive" is rubbish, because there isn't one. Perhaps unlike the author of the misleading advice , I've actually travelled in one.


You haven't read the article and looked at the expertise of the RSSB have you?

I guess I've upset a trainspotter? :(

Apologies.

Howard

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443006

Postby Alaric » September 17th, 2021, 1:20 pm

Howard wrote:You haven't read the article and looked at the expertise of the RSSB have you?


It's obviously factually incorrect about "locomotives", so why trust their expertise and advice?

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443033

Postby Lootman » September 17th, 2021, 2:29 pm

Alaric wrote:With only limited exceptions, diesel locomotives are only used nowadays on freight trains.

I wouldn't say "limited exceptions". The passenger trains from London to Nottingham and from London to Exeter are diesel powered. That I know from recent trips.

In my experience, the further you get from London, the less likely there will be a third rail or overhead power lines.

In fact when Virgin were running the long-distance trains out of Euston, they used diesel power even though the route had overhead wires.

Diesel isn't going anywhere fast.

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443075

Postby Alaric » September 17th, 2021, 4:22 pm

Lootman wrote:The passenger trains from London to Nottingham and from London to Exeter are diesel powered. That I know from recent trips.


Certainly but powered by engines under the floor, not by a separate locomotive at the front of the train. the point being that the advice to sit at the back of the train to avoid pollution was nonsense.

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443087

Postby JohnB » September 17th, 2021, 4:53 pm

Misleading post title, as the air quality aspect is as experienced by passengers compared to an urban street, and has nothing to do with cars doing the same journey

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443144

Postby redsturgeon » September 17th, 2021, 8:22 pm

Alaric wrote:
Lootman wrote:The passenger trains from London to Nottingham and from London to Exeter are diesel powered. That I know from recent trips.


Certainly but powered by engines under the floor, not by a separate locomotive at the front of the train. the point being that the advice to sit at the back of the train to avoid pollution was nonsense.


The actual advice in the article is to sit near the front!

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443146

Postby Lootman » September 17th, 2021, 8:28 pm

Alaric wrote:I don't think they are as expert as they might think. The trains that now run to the West Country can run on both electric and diesel. You won't find a locomotive at either the front or rear of the train, as the diesel engines are under the floor. There are areas in the nose and tail that don't accommodate passengers, but these are required under the rules governing trains allowed to travel at 125 mph.

So the things that look like locomotives at the front and back of many long-distance trains are actually empty boxes? There is nothing in them other than a cab for the driver?

Even though it is obvious from the noise that the engines are underneath the coaches, I did assume that those things that look like locomotives at the front and back actually had something functional in them? Rather than just be a huge, expensive homage to an obscure regulation.

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443188

Postby Alaric » September 17th, 2021, 10:34 pm

Lootman wrote:So the things that look like locomotives at the front and back of many long-distance trains are actually empty boxes? There is nothing in them other than a cab for the driver?


The older trains had locomotives. If they were diesel they were at both ends, one pushed, the other pulled. If they were electric one pushed or pulled but the other was an empty box which could be used for luggage. On many of the main intercity routes out of London, particularly to the West of England these have been replaced by bullet style trains, which run off overhead electricity or diesel. It's these which were claimed to be worse than the Marylebone Road. These have passengers in half the front or rear, but the bullet bit is just the driver, train manager and sometimes the kitchen. The engines doing the powering and other necessary bits are scattered throughout the train.

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443193

Postby tjh290633 » September 17th, 2021, 11:03 pm

The latest trains on the Greater Anglia lines (I think that's the current name for those that converge on Liverpool St) have a small power unit in the middle. Some are bi-mode with diesels. I think there is a corridor between the motors, but I haven't seen one yet. I am behind with my reading, but understand the small units to be articulated with the passenger cars fore and aft.

TJH

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443254

Postby Howard » September 18th, 2021, 10:19 am

The Department for Transport who commissioned this research are sufficiently concerned to immediately (within a day of its release) to publish the report on Gov.uk and explain that they have asked the RSSB to release the full findings. And they have commissioned further surveys by the RSSB..

Whilst the level of NOX might not be dangerous for one journey, for a rail commuter who regularly travels in a bimode train in diesel mode, the exposure to pollution obviously concerns the authorities.

This is an extract from the DFT release, link to full release on Gov.uk shown below

Government commissions action to improve rail air quality

"Research funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and conducted by RSSB, on 6 types of train, has found that air quality levels on some trains, while operating under diesel power, is poorer than desired.

The report published today (16 September 2021) has independently concluded that the quality of air on services remains within legal workplace limits. There is already cross-industry research underway to understand the issue and identify short-term and long-term solutions.
However, in response to the report, DfT has asked the RSSB to publish the full findings and has commissioned a review of all the regulations and standards that currently control air pollution and people’s exposure to it on the rail network. This will include on-board services as well as in stations.

The report shows measurements of pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter throughout the duration of train journeys. It demonstrates that on-train concentrations of nitrogen dioxide can peak at levels ranging from 1 to 13 times higher than identified next to major central London roads. Peaks most frequently occur when trains are in tunnels or idling in stations.

While this is verified as within legal limits, the government is committed to ensuring passengers and staff can be reassured that the railways meet the very highest standards. This could include updating or strengthening existing railway standards on air quality.

DfT has also commissioned further research, managed by RSSB, to help better understand the scale of the air quality issue on board trains and to identify potential causes and solutions. This work will include measuring air quality levels inside a further 8 train classes in service across the country’s rail network."


https://www.gov.uk/government/news/gove ... ir-quality

regards

Howard

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443375

Postby gryffron » September 18th, 2021, 6:31 pm

That stinks of rubbish statistics to me. “Peak pollution on trains is 13x average pollution on the street.” Is peak pollution on the streets also 13x the average. Or is it even more than that? How much pollution is there on the street at 4am?

Also says it’s worse London Euston to Birmingham, which has been fully electrified for 50 years.

I’ve long pointed out that if road vehicles had to adhere to the same collision safety and disability access rules as trains, they wouldn’t be able to move!

Gryff

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Re: New trains more polluting than cars!

#443380

Postby Alaric » September 18th, 2021, 6:55 pm

gryffron wrote:Also says it’s worse London Euston to Birmingham, which has been fully electrified for 50 years.


On the route to North Wales, the electrification doesn't extend beyond Crewe and they run through trains with underfloor diesel engines all the way to and from Euston.

It cannot be a totally new problem as trains with diesel engines under the floor of passenger carriages have been around since the 1930s, if only in major numbers since the 1960s. The North Wales trains have been around fifteen years or so.

Perhaps what is new is that they are now measuring how much of the output from the combustion of diesel finds its way into the air breathed by travelling passengers or those waiting at stations.


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