The Anonymous Widower

Will We See IPEMUs In Hastings?

I have just been pointed to this article in the Hastings Observer, which is entitled Hybrid trains alternative to electrifying 1066 country railway. This is said.

Battery-powered high-speed trains were proclaimed as the way to decrease rail journey times in 1066 country at a transport summit today (Friday, March 18).

Hybrid Javelin trains would eliminate the need to electrify the Marshlink but still reduce the time it takes to get to London, according to transport representatives at Sussex Coast College.

Network Rail’s senior strategic planner in the south east Paul Best explained how they are proposing an ‘incremental approach’ to electrifying the railway between Ashford and Bexhill.

He said they can increase speed limits in certain places but also look into using hybrid trains with a battery so they can be used on the normal track and electric line from St Pancras to Ashford, which would reduce journey times

So let’s look at this statement in detail. Note that I use Independently-Powered Electric Multiple Unit or IPEMU instead of battery trains.

I think it will be unlikely, that if this comes to pass, that the trains will be Class 395 trains, colloquially known as Javelins.

  • I don’t think Hitachi could deliver their made-in-Japan product for some time due to busy production schedules.
  • Hitachi have not disclosed any plans for a battery variant of a Class 395 train.
  • Paul Best of Network Rail isn’t reported as mentioning Javelins.

Hitachi may be able to deliver such a train in the future and I may be wrong about their capabilities.

I think if we see Paul Best’s hybrid trains working between St. Pancras and 1066 country, then there is only one proven train; an IPEMU or battery-powered version of the Class 387 train.

  • Soon, there could be several of the trains sitting in sidings or being built at Bombardier’s factory in Derby.
  • All or most of the Class 387 trains are owned by Porterbrook. Leasing companies are not charities and like their assets to sweat.
  • Bombardier and Network Rail demonstrated the IPEMU technology in public service over twelve months ago.
  • Class 387/2 trains destined for Gatwick Express have been extensively tested on the West Coast Main Line. Has their 200 kph capability been explored?
  • Southern, who have lots of experience of running Class 387 trains, are responsible for the services between Hastings and Ashford International.
  • Adding the required signalling and certifying the Class 387 trains for HS1, shouldn’t be a difficult problem.
  • Jumping the electrification gap of the Marshlink Line, is well within the capability of a Class 387 train with an IPEMU capability.

The only problem I can see, is that they are only a 110 mph train as opposed to the 140 mph of the Class 395 train, when that train runs on HS1. So would this cause route planning problems? But then the line can accommodate slower freight trains.

But I did say the following in Will Southern Create A South Coast Express Using IPEMUs?, about an electrified service on the Marshlink Line.

Using IPEMU trains would simplify the job and mean no electrification would be needed.

It would appear that Network Rail are thinking along similar lines.

The High Speed Battery Train

Are Bombardier creating a genuine high speed train with a 200 kph capability and the ability to run for at least fifty miles on battery power.

  • Bombardier certainly have the experience to build a 200 kph train for the UK, in that both Class 221 trains and Class 222 trains were built by Bombardier.
  • If they had to settle for the 175 kph of the current Class 387 train, that wouldn’t be too serious a problem. Especially, if they could squeeze the extra 25 kph in a few years, with an upgrade.
  • Class 387 trains have been running on Thameslink since December 2014.
  • A lot of technology like LED lights, regenerative braking, efficient air-conditioning and automatic train control systems are available to make trains use less electricity.
  • The battery technology has been reported as going through extensive testing in Mannheim.

Without doubt Bombardier can produce a 175 kph (110 mph) train based on the Class 387 train and they could be able to stretch that to a 200 kph (125 mph) one!

That would be some train!

The IPEMU Market

If they can produce a high speed train with an onboard energy storage, it is not a speculative product without a market.

In addition to the Marshlink Line, all of these lines have a proportion of running at around 160 kph or over and then an extension, that is not electrified.

  • Liverpool Street to Lowestoft – This route is in the new Greater Anglia franchise.
  • Liverpool Street to Yarmouth via Cambridge, Ely and Norwich.
  • Liverpool Street to Peterborough via Cambridge.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Kings Cross to Grimsby, Hull and Lincoln.
  • Kings Cross to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
  • Liverpool to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds.
  • Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester, Sheffield and Doncaster.
  • Blackpool to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line.
  • St. Pancras to Corby and Leicester
  • Euston to Barrow, Blackpool, Chester, Huddersfield and Shrewsbury
  • Paddington to Bedwyn, Henley, Marlowe, Newbury, Oxford and Windsor

In addition, there are some routes , which could be served, with some short stretches of electrification or a means of charging the train at the terminus.

  • Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury.
  • York to Scarborough
  • Edinburgh to Tweedbank
  • Settle to Carlisle
  • Carlisle to Newcastle.

And then there’s all the branch lines!


Could we be witnessing a rail revolution powered by batteries?

I certainly think we are and have thought so for some time.

Who’ve have thought that Network Rail would spill the beans in Hastings about a rather charming line across the Romney Marsh?








March 19, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , ,


  1. […] writing Will We See IPEMUS in Hastings?, I thought it would be a good idea to see, if there were any other reasons, why running longer […]

    Pingback by Along The Marshlink Line « The Anonymous Widower | March 22, 2016 | Reply

  2. Is the 110mph limitation a blocker for running over HS1? if not, what could the st Leonards to st Pancras time be? (including, say, some stops at Hastings, Ashford, and Ore.)

    Comment by matbest | March 29, 2016 | Reply

  3. I suspect that if it was a serious problem at 110 mph, the Network Rail guy wouldn’t have suggested battery trains on HS1. But in Modern Railways this month, Ian Walmsley talks of 125 mph Aventras and I don’t think Hitachi would like to lose an order without a fight. But would they create a battery Class 395 train for only a few orders?

    Ithink there are a lot of variables that can be put into the mix!

    Comment by AnonW | March 29, 2016 | Reply

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