The Anonymous Widower

No-Frills Mini Trains Offer Route To Reopening Lines That Beeching Shut

That long title appeared in The Times today above a picture of a stylish single-carriage lightweight train.

This page on the Warwick University web site is entitled Revolution Very Light Rail Project, describes the project on which the Times article is based.

This is said.

The main objective of the project is to reduce the weight and cost of a railcar by half in order to facilitate low cost connectivity of suburban and rural areas. The Radical Train will demonstrate unique self-powered bogies (with integral hybrid propulsion and kinetic energy recovery system) combined with a modular, lightweight body-shell utilising advanced materials. WMG will be transferring expertise in lightweighting technology from the automotive sector into this project. Automotive lightweighting solutions are already employing advanced materials including ultra-high strength steels and fibre-reinforced polymer composites.

Other points from The Times include.

  • 18m. long, but could be 12m. or 9m.
  • 3.8 litre Cummins diesel hybrid engines. Routemaster buses have 4.5 litre Cummins engines
  • Speed of up to 70 mph.
  • Lithium-titanate battery similar to a Routemaster bus.
  • Target price of £500,000

The Times also says that the prototype could be running in 18 months.

So how feasible is what the article says?

The Short Branch Or Connecting Line

The most obvious application is the short branch or connecting line, which is worked by either a single train or perhaps a small number of small trains.

On their web site, Warwick University have an image of the train at St. Erth station, ready to depart on the St. Ives Branch. I wrote about this branch in St. Erth Station And The St. Ives Branch.

St. Erth Station

You have to admire the group in picking a station of character for their web site.

But it would also make a good test site for the train.

  • St. Erth station has two platforms.
  • The line is single track throughout.
  • There is a two trains per hour (tph) service run by a single Class 150 train.
  • The route has a high level of baggage.
  • The Class 150 train takes 14-15 minutes for each journey.
  • A well-designed modern train could save a few minutes.

But above all Cornwall has better weather than many places.

This line probably gets very busy in the Summer and I also suspect that Great Western Railway would like to run four tph on the branch.

They could probably do this with a passing loop around halfway and two trains with a better station calling performance than the Class 150 train. ERTMS, which would probably be fitted to the trains, would ease the problems of signalling on the line.

There are several branch lines in the UK, which are currently run by a single train and perhaps 1-2 tph, that could benefit with a 4 tph service, which these trains could provide.

In A Look At New Station Projects and also in The Times article, there are some branch line projects that may be suitable.

Most of these lines are reopened lines that were closed in the Beeching era.

Are The Trains Big Enough?

At eighteen metres long, I reckon that the capacity of a single unit is slightly less than a twenty-three metre long Class 153 train. An estimate gives somewhere between 50-55 passengers.

But pictures in The Times and on the Warwick University web site show a standard railway coupling, which can be used for the following.

  • Creating longer trains of two or more units working together.
  • Allowing one train to rescue another.
  • Allowing a train to be rescued by a compatible train.

So it would seem that creation of a train with a capacity of around 100 passengers by linking two units together is probably in the specification.

Working With Other Trains

The Times article says that the lightweight design means they can probably only run on captive lines with no other heavy trains.

But it also says that this will change with ultra-safe digital signalling, that enforced separation between trains.

By the time, these trains enter service, ERTMS will have been proven to be safe on UK railways.

I also suspect that the trains will use the most modern automotive industry structures. Pacers they are not!

The Longer Distance Service

A typical longer distance service would be one shown in The Times, which is to run a service between Newcastle station and a new Ashington station in the North East.

  • Most if not all of the track is intact.
  • Stations would need to be rebuilt or built from scratch.
  • To work the desired frequency of two tph would probably need two units.
  • Digital signalling would be needed, as there are freight trains on the same lines.

More details of the route are given on the South East Northumberland Rail User Group web site.

Running Under The Zwickau Model Into A Town Centre

These trains could almost have been designed to run as trams, as the diesel multiple units of the Vogtlansbahn do in Zwickau town centre.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

The picture shows one of the trains at the terminus of Zwickau Zentrum, after arriving at the town centre terminus from the Hauptbahnhof over a tram-style track under tram tram-style rules.

  • Note the tram-style infrastucture with a simple stop and track laid into the roadway.
  • The driver has large windows to keep a good look-out.
  • Horns and other warning devices are fitted.
  • Note the orange warning lights.
  • The train travels at a slow safe speed.
  • The stations or are they stops have no footbridges. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross the track, as they need.

I think that Warwick’s vehicles could travel like this to provide route extensions into a city or town centre of perhaps to an attraction like a theme park.

Have track! Will travel!


I think that Warwick have come up with a fresh design, that shows a lot of innovation and flexibility.

Not only is it affordable to build, but also probably can work with lower-cost infrastructure.

I look forward to seeing the prototype in action.




February 11, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Crossrail 2 is a ‘threat to Soho’s soul’ says Stephen Fry

This is the title of an article on the BBC.

This is the sort of attitude displayed by Victorians who thought that railways would upset their grouse or disturb their dinner psarties.

Stephen Fry should stick to comedy!

Or is he being ironic?

February 11, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A Station For Maltby And Other Villages

Maltby in South Yorkshire is a village of around 17,000 people, with transport links, based on buses and private cars.

This Google Map shows the village, which shares a mini-connurbation with Hellaby and Bramley, as you go West.

Bramley, Hellaby And Maltby

Bramley, Hellaby And Maltby

Note the massive Maltby Main Colliery, which thankfully closed in 2013. Curving round this scar on the face of Yorkshire is a railway, which starts in the North East corner and disappears South-Westerly out of the bottom of the map.

This railway is the South Yorkshire Joint Railway, which is described in this page in Grace’s Guide.

The line ran from Kirk Sandall Junction on the Great Central’s Doncaster-Cleethorpes line to a junction with the Great Central and Midland Joint Railway, just south of Dinnington. The N.E.R. had access over the G.C.R. from Hull, the M.R. had access from the Nottingham-Worksop line, over G.C.R. metals from Shireoaks, the L&Y joined at St. Catherine’s Junction from their Dearne Valley Railway and the G.N.R. had connections to the south of Doncaster. As opened the S.Y.J.R. was 21.25 miles (34km) in length, including its colliery branch lines and connections to the several lines it crossed in its path. It opened to freight on 1 January 1909, and to passengers on 1 December 1910.

Wikipedia says this about services on the line.

Passenger trains on the line ended in 1929; freight work continued on the line, with eight collieries served at peak. Most of the collieries closed by the 1990s; as of 2011, the line remains an important freight line for coal transportation both north and southwards to the Trent and Aire Valley power stations.

So now that coal is virtually in the dustbin of history, except in Trumkopf’s mind, perhaps it is time to do something positive with this railway.

The route between Doncaster and the Sheffield-Lincoln Line would appear to have the following characteristics.

  • It is single-track and looks intact.
  • There is no trace of any station.
  • The line passes through several large villages including Anston and Dinnington.
  • The line passes through the town of Doncaster and even goes close to the racecourse.
  • The Northern end joins the South Humberside Main Line just to the West of Hatfield and Stainforth station.
  • The Southern end joins the Sheffield-Lincoln Line at a partially-closed triangular junction between  Kiveton Park and Shireoaks stations.

But the biggest factor in developing the line is that the South Yorkshire Joint Railway goes straight through the site of the proposed Doncaster Inland Port or Doncaster iPort. This is Wikipedia’s introduction for the iPort.

Doncaster iPort or Doncaster Inland Port is an intermodal rail terminal; a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange,[note 1] under construction west of Rossington and south of Doncaster at junction 3 of the M18 motorway in England. It is to be connected to the rail network via the line of the former South Yorkshire Joint Railway, and from an extension of the former Rossington Colliery branch from the East Coast Main Line.

The development includes a 171 hectares (420 acres) intermodal rail terminal to be built on green belt land, of which over 50 hectares (120 acres) was to be developed into warehousing, making it the largest rail terminal in Yorkshire; the development also included over 150 hectares (370 acres) of countryside, the majority of which was to remain in agricultural use, with other parts used for landscaping, and habitat creation as part of environment mitigation measures.

This Google Map shows the location of the Doncaster iPort.



  • Junction 3 of the M18 in the North-West corner of the map.
  • The South Yorkshire Joint Railway crossing the site from North to South.
  • The under-construction A6182 or Great Yorkshire Way, which is described in this news article on the BBC, with a headline of New £56m Robin Hood Airport to M18 link road opens.
  • The scar of Rossington colliery, to the North of the village of Rossington.
  • The East Coast Main Line  to the East of the village.

The only thing that missing is a way to get large container ships to the iPort. Air freight will be sorted, as I wrote in A Station At Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with a choice of road or rail links between the iPort and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Some questions come to mind.

  • Will the Rossington Colliery Branch, when extended to the iPort have a junction with the East Coast Main Line that enables traffic to arrive at and leave from the iPort in both directions?
  • Will the Rossington Branch have a connection to the Joint Railway to give a route for passenger trains between Doncaster and the Joint Railway?
  • How will freight trains get from the iPort to the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line to go South for Felixstowe?

But it does seem that Maltby and all those villages will be getting a busy railway through their midst.

It would surely be sensible to add in a few passenger services, that connect Maltby and all the other villages to perhaps Doncaster, Sheffield and Worksop.


February 11, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment