The Anonymous Widower

The Definitive Branch Line For An Electric Train With On Board Energy Storage

In Curious Rail Construction At Ipswich Station, I described how the current five-car Platform 1 has been electrified and given an electrified route of a few hundred metres to the Felixstowe Branch Line.

I then outlined how an ow an electric train with on-board energy storage, could work the Ipswich-Felixstowe service.

  • I’ll assume that a fully-charged train starts from the new depot at Manningtree or some other suitable overnight stabling.
  • The train positions early in the morning for the first service from Felixstowe, using  overhead power to Ipswich and on-board power on the branch.
  • Passengers load at Felixstowe and the train proceeds to Ipswich under on-board power to the current Platform 1 at Ipswich.
  • The train would sneak into the platform on the North side of Ipswich Freight Yard, well out of the way of the Great Eastern Main Line and any freight movements.
  • If the platform was busy and the train had to wait at a signal, it could even up pantograph to start the recharging of the on-board energy storage.
  • Once in Platform 1, the train would either start or continue the charging process.
  • The pantograph would be lowered, when the charging was complete or at any time before the train left for Felixstowe.

The process would continue all day.

But things don’t always go to plan, so what happens at Ipswich, if Platform 1 is blocked by a failed train?

As the train will be approaching Ipswich on a dedicated line, it would stop at a signal and wait. As the overhead wire to the station will be continuous, it would immediately up pantograph to start the charging process, to make certain, it wasn’t stuck with a flat battery.

There has been a lot of thought, in how trains with on board storage should be operated.

Similar layouts seem to be being installed at other places.

Maidenhead and the Marlow Branch Line

Maidenhead station is where the Marlow Branch Line connects to the Great Western Main Line.

Platform assignments after Crossrail will probably be.

  1. Down Fast
  2. Up Fast
  3. Down Slow – Crossrail
  4. Up Show – Crossrail
  5. Marlow Branch

Note that Platform 5 has recently been extended to the full Crossrail length of 200 metres, so could this platform be shared between the Marlow Branch trains and the Class 387 trains that will start to shuttle between Maidenhead and Paddington in mid-2017.

These are pictures taken at Maidenhead station.

Note the platform 5 for the Marlow Branch and the first couple of hundred metres of the branch are being electrified.

Trains with on-board energy storage between Maidenhead and Bourne End stations could certainly use the same procedure as the one I outlined for trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe. They would probably come into Platform 5 at Maidenhead, as the Marlow Branch trains currently do.

But they also have the advantage at Maidenhead of a very long two hundred metre Platform 5.

Note that four-car Class 387 trains couldn’t go past Bourne End station, so the remainder of the branch to Marlow would probably be served by a diesel shuttle.

On November 25th, 2016, I took this picture from a passing train.



  • I was looking directly down the Marlow Branch.
  • The two lines join around the position of the last gantry and the nearest one goes into Platform 4, with the farthest one going into Platform 5.
  • You can’t really see it too well in the picture, but the overhead wire appears to be only above the line into Platform 5.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the Western \end of Platforms 4 and 5 and the start of the Marlow Branch.


Hopefully, it will be clearer than mud now!

Note the two-car train in Platform 5.

So why is there no connecting electrification between Platform 4 and the Marlow Branch Line?

It could be that it hasn’t been erected yet, but on the other hand, it could be that it isn’t needed.

  • All trains arriving at Maidenhead from Bourne End would use Platform 5.
  • These trains would only use the wiring to the West of Platform 5, if say the platform was blocked, by say a failed train.
  • Trains between Bourne End and Paddington, after arriving at Platform 5 would up pantograph and  after leaving the platform, they would use an existing crossover to access the Up Slow line for Paddington.
  • Trains between Paddington and Bourne End would probably use the existing crossovers  to stop in Platform 5 after arriving on the Up Slow. Once in Platform 5, they would down pantograph and continue to Bourne End under on-board power.

So a second electrified line not being needed, could be the explanation of only one being created.

Note that when Crossrail starts, Crossrail trains will use Platforms 3 and 4 and will reverse using a reversing siding to the West of the station..

So the Marlow Branch and Crossrail will effectively be two separate systems with their own tracks, trains and arrangements.

Slough And The Slough to Windsor & Eton Line

Slough station is where the Slough to Windsor & Eton Line connects to the Great Western Main Line.

As I passed through Slough station, I noticed that the gantries are such, that just as at Maidenhead, the bay Platform 1 could have a short length of overhead wiring installed, so that the shuttle to Windsor and Eton Central station could be run using an electric train with on-board energy storage.

This small add-on to the electrification, would create a branch line independent of the main line.

  • It would be worked as a single train shuttle.
  • The train would be electric with on-board energy storage.
  • The train would charge at Slough station.
  • It would have dedicated platforms in the two terminal stations; Slough and Windsor and Eton Central.
  • The train could be worked using the principle of only one train on the line at a time or One Train Working.
  • Trains would enter and leave the dedicated branch tracks for servicing and other tasks, as they do now, through a connection to the Fast lines at Slough station.

Unlike the Marlow Branch, it would not need protection for failed trains, as there is only one train.

I would suspect that capacity at the Windsor end of the branch would limit any expansion unless a scheme like the Windsor Link Railway was brought forward and that a four-car electric shuttle train would be sufficient to work the line for many years.

Twyford And The Henley Branch Line

Twyford station is where the Henley Branch Line connects to the Great Western Main Line.

I wrote about using trains with on-board energy storage on the Henley Branch in Twyford Station And The Henley Branch and came to the conclusion, that electric trains of this type could serve this short branch of just four miles in length, with very little change to the infrastructure

Installing a short length of electrification in the bay platform 5 at Twyford station and for a short distance on the branch could be used to charge the trains.

As on the Marlow Branch and the Slough to Windsor and Eton Line, this would create a branch line independent of the main line.

I doubt that this line will ever be fully-electrified.

Certainly, as I passed the line today, there was no sign of any electrification.

West Ealing And Greenford Branch Line

West Ealing station is where the Greenford Branch Line connects to the Great Western Main Line.

But seeing as the last direct train from Greenford to Paddington seems to be on the 23rd of December 2016, the Greenford Branch Line will become an independent branch line with its own bay Platform 5 at West Ealing station, where passengers will have to change to and from Paddington.

In West Ealing Station – 12th October 2016, I showed the progress a couple of months ago and as at Slough gantries are in place, that could be used to electrify the new bay platform.

Once the wires were in place at the platform, all it would need to provide a quality service to Greenford, would be suitable electric train with on-board energy storage.

  • The journey would take around ten minutes.
  • Trains would charge their storage at West Ealing.
  • Two trains per hour would be possible with one train.
  • Four trains per hour would be possible with two trains, as the branch has a lot of double-track to allow passing.

The only infrastructure needed, other than the electrification might be some platform lengthening for the new trains.

As I passed the line today, there was some evidence of wires going up, but they probably can’t be completed until the new station is finished at West Ealing station.

Surely, if the branch was going to be run in perpetuity by diesel trains, there would be no evidence of electrification in the bay platform 5 and at the start of the Greenford Branch.

The Emerging Design

If you look at all these examples, most of which are ongoing projects, they have a series of common features.

  • The branch line is fairly simple, often just a shuttle between two dedicated terminal platforms.
  • The branch line is within the range of an electric train with on-board energy storage, to go out and return.
  • Some branches are worked using the principle of only one train on the line at a time or One Train Working.
  • At least one terminal platform will be electrified, so that the on board energy storage can be charged.
  • The branch line is within the range of an electric train with on-board energy storage.

The only feature not common to all the detailed examples, is where the electrified platform could be shared as at Ipswich and Maidenhead,

In these cases, provision must be made for another train failing in the station.

If Network Rail can get this philosophy right, it has the following advantages.

  • New or refurbished environmentally-friendly electric trains can replace elderly diesel trains on suitable routes.
  • As the electric trains will typically be four-cars or more, there will be large capacity increases.
  • There will be very little infrastructure work, except for platform lengthening and possibly electrifying an extra platform in a station on an already electrified line.
  • Network Rail will gain a bit of credibility.

As an example, Ipswich Felixstowe could go from an hourly single -car Class 153 train to an hourly five-car modern Aventra with Wi-fi and lots of space.










November 27, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

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