The Anonymous Widower

Up And Down The Chase Line

I went up the Chase Line to look at the progress of the electrification from Walsall to Rugeley Trent Valley.

The train was an improvised three-car consisting of a two-car Class 170 train attached to a Class 153 train.

So I have to assume that most of the platforms are probably now long enough for four-car trains. It also looked to my untrained eye, that all the signalling had been renewed and the all the stations were up to a high standard, as they usually are around Birmingham.

The line is fully electrified between Birmingham and Walsall and Rugeley Trent Valley station has a fully electrified bay platform, from where the electrification stretches a couple of hundred metres down the Chase Line.

There was no sign of any electrification work and it was almost if they had tidied everything up and gone away, just leaving a few builders putting the finishing touches to the new and raised bridges on the route. There was no piles of steelwork for the overhead lines or yellow special-purpose vehicles anywhere! I didn’t see them on my last visit to Blackpool, which I wrote about in What’s Gone Wrong With The Blackpool To Preston Electrification?

As the target for introducing electric trains on the route between Rugeley Trent Valley and Birmingham New Street is December 2017, they would seem to be cutting it fine, to get the work done in time. Especially as so many of Network Rail’s projects like the Todmorden curve have been delayed.

A short time ago, I wrote Electrification May Be In Trouble Elsewhere, But The Brummies Keep Marching On, which was based on this article in Rail Engineer, which said it was going so well.

What’s happened?

I have come to the conclusion, that this line could almost have been specially prepared so that it could be run by Aventra IPEMUs.

The length of the section without electrification  is only perhaps a dozen miles, so an Aventra IPEMU that  charged up on the existing electrification between Birmingham and Walsall, could easily make Rugeley Trent Valley, where it could charge itself again on the new electrification at the station, if it was thought necessary.

I have found this article in the Wolverhampton Express and Star which is entitled Walsall railway bridge rebuild begins in £30m line electrification.

So how much of that cost is electrification of the dozen miles of double-track between Walsall and Rugeley? In this press release from the Green Party, they give the cost of railway electrification at £3million a mile. If that includes bridge and track modification, then that figure ties up well with the £30million for the whole project from the Express and Star, given that as there is electrified lines at both ends, the major cost of bringing power to the new section is probably not very large.

In The Cost Of Aventra Trains, I said that a standard four-car Aventra train will all the extras and servicing costs around £8million. So conservatively, I would suspect that a four-car Aventra IPEMU would come in at a little bit more.

So long as all platforms and the signalling could accept a four-car train, the extra costs of introducing an Aventra IPEMU, should not be much more than training drivers and other staff.

Would the savings on not completing the electrification, pay for the purchase of the probable two Aventra IPEMUs needed to provide a half-hourly service on the lines? As the trains would be faster over the route, two trains might be able to provide a three trains an hour service, which is what Redditch on the other side of Birmingham gets.

Are the clever engineers in Derby, going to give the good citizens of Walsall, a brand new, but very affordable electric train service to Birmingham and Rugeley?


September 25, 2015 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,


  1. […] « Previous | Next » […]

    Pingback by Briefing Notes On Electrification « The Anonymous Widower | September 27, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] This would mean that this route out of St.Pancras to Leicester could be covered by an Aventra IPEMU, if it were possible to recharge the train at Leicester, using the sort of short electrification, I wrote about at Rugeley Trent Valley station in Up And Down The Chase Line. […]

    Pingback by Thoughts On Midland Main Line Electrification « The Anonymous Widower | September 28, 2015 | Reply

  3. […] am not publishing any of the pictures, as nothing seems to have changed since I wrote Up And Down The Chase Line in September last […]

    Pingback by No Progress On Chase Line Electrification « The Anonymous Widower | April 2, 2016 | Reply

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