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Drax-tacular! Biomass hopper samples arrive

Revolution Trains has received EP1 samples of the Drax Power IIA-D biomass hoppers, which are available to order exclusively from Rails of Sheffield.

The models represent the 225 IIA-D ‘Tafoos’ hoppers now in service with Drax power and used to transport biomass from sea ports on Merseyside, Tyneside and Humberside to Drax Power station in Yorkshire. Drax is the UK’s largest power station, generating more than 6% of the UK’s power needs, and is expecting to convert to 100% biomass in 2021.

60076 with Drax hoppers at Gauxholme. Photo Neil Harvey.

The EP1 samples are to check the fit of parts and that the basic dimensions are correct. The prototypes are 17640mm over headstocks, which is 119mm in 1:148 scale.

Bogie brakewheel is missing on this side. It will be present on production models.

The models are being offered in twin packs in three different iterations of Drax livery – original, Northern Powerhouse and the new ‘Renewable Pioneers’ versions. They are being retailed exclusively by Rails of Sheffield.

Drax original livery – version A
Drax original livery – version B
Drax Northern Powerhouse livery – version A
Drax Northern Powerhouse livery – version B
Drax Renewable Pioneers ‘Ben Cruachan’ livery. There are three other variants with different images.

(Wagon artwork courtesy Drax Power)

Revolution JNA Ealnos and IIA-D Tafoos wagons – why not have some of each?
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Bio-massive news from Revolution!

Revolution Trains is offering the huge Drax Power IIA biomass hoppers as its next N gauge wagon. These wagons were introduced from 2013 and are used across northern England to ferry biomass from east and west coats sea ports to Drax Power station in North Yorkshire.

60076 on 6E09 Liverpool Docks – Drax at Brighouse in October 2019. Photo courtesy Neil Harvey

CAD has now been completed and the models are in tooling. They feature NEM couplers and lots of separately fitted details including door opening actuators, brake equipment, discharge doors and wire pipes and rails.

Drax, near Selby in North Yorkshire, is the world’s largest biomass-fuelled power station and generates 15% of the UK’s renewable electricity. To do this requires 25,000 tonnes of biomass each day.

Drax Power Station, North Yorkshire. Image courtesy Drax Power

The biomass from Europe and North America arrives by sea at the ports of Liverpool, Tyne, Immingham and Hull and is transported to Drax by rail. To sustain its needs, Drax operates around 17 trains every day.

IIA-D wagons preparing to unload at Drax. Photo courtesy Drax Power.

The wagons are loaded through full length roof doors, and at Drax they automatically dump the biomass via underframe chutes onto conveyor belts leading two four huge storage domes, where the biomass is kept dry and in a nitrogen-rich atmosphere to avoid the risk of fire.

Drax biomass storage domes. Photo courtesy Drax Power

Originally, redundant coal wagons were used, but because biomass is lighter than coal the wagons were completely full before their maximum tonnage was reached, reducing efficiency. To address this, Drax ordered an entirely new design of wagon, specifically for biomass, with hoppers in the centre and outside each bogie, and with a body profile at the limits of the UK loading gauge.

Photo courtesy Dave Kirwin

225 of these wagons – coded IIA-D under TOPS and with the UIC designation Tafoos – were built for by WH Davis between 2013 and 2015, and each carries enough biomass to generate a full year’s supply of electricity for 32 homes.

66706 with Drax hoppers on Gauxholme viaduct. Imagine recreating this in N! Photo courtesy Neil Harvey

The wagons were first outshopped in vinyls carrying a stylish Drax livery of grey, black, blue and green; odd-numbered wagons receiving an A version, even-numbered wagons receiving a B version with the pattern designed to “run on” across adjacent wagons. In 2018, a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ branded version of the livery was introduced, and last year some wagons were also revinyled into a blue scheme with large photos and the message ‘Renewable Pioneers.’

One version of the Renewable Pioneers livery.

These models will be available exclusively from Rails of Sheffield, and are being sold in twin packs – one with each version of the livery – for £79.95. Versions will be available in original, Northern Powerhouse and Renewable Pioneer liveries.

We are expecting EP1 samples early in the New Year and the for the finished models to be shipped in the summer of 2021, however these timeframes are indicative and subject to possible Covid disruption.