The Anonymous Widower

Along The Marshlink Line

After 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 IPEMUs on the Marshlink Line would be a good idea.

So I took a Class 395 train from St. Pancras International station to Ashford International station along High Speed One.

From Ashford International, I took the Marshlink Link to Hastings station, in one of the services run by Southern using Class 171 trains.

These are my observations from the trip.

Class 171 Trains

These are two-car modern diesel multiple units with a top speed of 160 kph and they can be coupled together to make longer trains.

They are totally adequate for the current service between Ashford International and Brighton via Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne and Lewes.

Class 387 Trains With An IPEMU Capability

I believe that if battery trains or IPEMUs are used to provide an electric service on the Marshlink Line, that only Class 387 trains can be delivered in a reasonable timescale.

  • The Class 387 train is a cousin of the Class 379 train, which was used to create the demonstrator.
  • The Class 387 train is a four-car 175 kph train, that can be run in 4, 8 or 12 car formations.
  • The capability of the train on battery power, would be more than adequate to go between Ashford International and Hastings.
  • There are over twenty Class 387 trains in service, that will start to be replaced this year with new Class 700 trains.
  • Another twenty trains are on order for Porterbrook.
  • Because of the late delivery of the Great Western electrification, quite a few trains have no home to go to.
  • Southern are very familiar with Class 387 trains.

The main thing that would need to be done, would be to add an appropriate battery pack to the number of trains needed for a Brighton to Ashford or St. Pancras service.

As a battery pack was designed over a year ago, I’m sure Bombardier have this under control.

This article in Rail Technology Magazine, talks about how Bombardier are doing extensive tests on battery systems in Mannheim.

Ashford International Station

This Google Map shows the various lines through Ashford International station.

Lines Around Ashford International Station

Lines Around Ashford International Station


  • High Speed One goes through the station calling at the long island platforms 3 and 4, or on the flyover, as appropriate.
  • The Ashford to Ramsgate Line goes off to the North East.
  • The Marshlink Line goes south alongside the white teardrop, which is the Ashford Designer Outlet.

There are three alternatives for Marshlink Line trains.

  • Currently, trains from the Marshlink Line terminate in Platform 1. This could continue.
  • Trains could go to and from London on High Speed 1
  • Trains could go to and from London on classic lines.

I suppose there could be a mixture of all three.

I don’t know if it is possible to run trains between High Speed One and the Marshlink Line, but I can’t believe that it would be impossible to arrange, as Network Rail have mentioned Hastings to St. Pancras services via High Speed One in some of their reports.

Ham Street Station

Ham Street station is a simple affair on a double-track section, with two staggered platforms.

I took these pictures of the station.

This is a Google Map of the station.

Ham Street Station

Ham Street Station

it would appear that quite a few houses have been built recently.

The station doesn’t appear to be of the same quality as the houses.

Appledore Station

This Google Map shows the Appledore station.

Appledore Station

Appledore Station

It is simple affair, with very few houses locally.

  • Appledore itself is two miles away.
  • It has two staggered platforms.
  • There is a level crossing.
  • There is no footbridge.

South of the station the line becomes single-track and the Dungeness Branch goes off to Dungeness and Lydd.


A proportion of the freight traffic on the Marshlink Line serves the Dungeness Nuclear Power Station using the Dungeness Branch.

The Google Map shows the area of Dungeness.



At one time, the line had several stations including one at Dungeness.

Other than the power station, there is just a few houses, Lydd Airport, a nature reserve and a few tourist attractions like the iconic Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

The only other things that could effect the area, is a possible building of Dungeness C Nuclear Power Station and other energy related developments, like a cross-Channel energy link or support for wind turbines.

So to say that the Dungeness Branch will never be developed with a passenger train service, is a bit like saying human beings will never set foot on Mars.

I’ve never been down to Dungeness, although C flew to Beauvais near Paris in the 1960s from the Airport using an airline called Skyways (?).

Rye Station

Rye station is the only substantial station on the unelectrified part of the Marshlink Line.

This Google Map shows the station.


I visited Rye in 2015 and wrote Lunch At Rye, where I found it a charming little town, lacking in information.

The station has a passing loop, a footbridge and a booking office, and it probably would need little work for longer trains.

However, there was evidence of general tidying up and the relaying of track.

Evidence Of Work At Rye

Evidence Of Work At Rye

In fact, this was virtually the only work, that I saw anywhere on the Marshlink Line.

Winchelsea, Doleham And Three Oaks Stations.

Of these three stations, we only stopped at Winchelsea station.

Except for well-maintained single platform, there is not much there.

Doleham and Three Oaks stations are also fairly basic, with Three Oaks only able to handle a single carriage.

From Ore To Hastings

Ore station is the next station after Three Oaks and it is fully electrified from the station all the way to Eastbourne and Brighton.

An Article In Rye News

This article in Rye News is entitled More give than take on Marshlink, was written by Stuart Harland who is chairman of the Marsh Link Action Group.

It gives a summary of the work needed to allow Class 395 trains to Bexhill.

As we know from the Network Rail presentation to MLAG last year, the physical issues to be resolved are:

  • electrification of the Marshlink line
  • signalling at Bexhill;
  • remodelling of the track layout at Ashford;
  • the dualling/ passing loop at Rye
  • the two level crossings at East Guldeford where input is awaited from the Highways Agency to remove the need for two level crossings on the A259

All of this needs funding, as do the additional Javelin units built by Hitachi.


So how does using Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability affect this list.

  • Electrification of the Marshlink Line would not be needed.
  • The signalling at Bexhill, can already handle eight-car Electrostars, like the Class 387 train, so I would assume modifications would be simpler, if at all.
  • The remodelling of the track layout at Ashford would only need to connect Platforms 1 and 2 to High Speed One.
  • The passing loop at Rye seems capable of accepting two four-car Class 171 Turbostar trains, which are closely related to Class 387 Electrostar trains.
  • The level crossing problems would remain, but the speeds could be kept to those used now.
  • New trains would not need to be purchased from Hitachi.

In addition, there would need to be work done to make sure that all stations and signalling on the Marshlink Line could accept the length of train, that Southern want to run between |St. Pancras and Hastings.


Class 387 IPEMUs could easily provide service on the Marshlink Line and  the cost of the work would be very much reduced compared to using Class 395 Javelin trains, with the biggest expense probably being adding the battery packs to the Class 387 trains.





March 22, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I am a member of the Marsh Link Action Group and was sent the link to your blog. Excellent stuff and thank you so much for doing this work. I hope it is more widely read.
    .I have since tried to find out the results of the Bombardier IPEMU test in Essex and more recent news on the possible introduction of IPEMUs. My “Googling” has come to nothing – the latest news seems to be back in February 2015.
    I am firmly of opinion that battery operated trains are the future – at least for rural parts of the network like ours One advantage is that they could help avoid spoiling the landscape with electrical infrastructure.
    Any news on this would be welcome.

    Comment by christopher strangeways | March 24, 2016 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.