The Anonymous Widower

Electrification ‘Very Unlikely’ To Come Back Into EWR Scheme

The title of this post is the same as this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is a quote from Andy Free, who is head of engineering of the alliance that is building the East West Rail Link.

The steer from the DfT is that wherever the Alliance is building a new structure it needs to be clear and suitable for electrification, “and we must do nothing that hinders future electrification, but it is not on the short- or medium-term horizon.

Given the developments in bi-mode trains in recent years, I suspect this is a sensible policy.

Electrification is probably cheaper to fit to a train in a nice warm factory in Derby or Newton Aycliffe, than at a remote location in the pouring rain and the howling wind.

In the case of the East West Rail Link, where sections of the route are well defined, as they are existing rail alignments, building the route would involve.

  • Raising any over-bridges to be clear of future electrification.
  • Building any bridges or flyovers, where the new railway crosses over roads and other railways.
  • Preparing the track bed.
  • Laying the track.
  • Building or rebuilding the stations.

Note I have ignored signalling, as ideally that will be in-cab by radio.

Building the line without electrification must give advantages.

  • Network Rail seem to find it impossible to do electrification projects to time and budget.
  • Stations without electrification are safer places and easier to design and build.
  • There is less visual intrusion for Nimbys to complain about.
  • The cost of connecting the electrification to the National Grid is zero.
  • There is less copper cable to steal.

In Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?, I outlined what I believe the ultimate bi-mode train will be like.

A bi-mode Aventra would be a sophisticated train with the following characteristics.

  • Electric drive
  • Regenerative braking.
  • 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail capability.
  • Automatic pantograph deployment.
  • Onboard energy storage.
  • Automatic power source selection.
  • Diesel or hydrogen power-pack

The first four are probably already in service in the Class 345 train.

A train going from between Reading and Bedford on the East West Rail Link, would charge its energy storage at the terminals and then use this power along the route. If the train detected that the stored energy was running low, the diesel or hydrogen power-pack would cut in and charge the energy storage.


It is my view, that if you are building a new rail line that is not high speed or high frequency, that there is no need to electrify the line, as intelligent bi-mode trains will be able to work the route economically and without the noise, pollution and vibration problems of their diesel engines working all the time.

August 26, 2017 - Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , ,

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