The Anonymous Widower

When Do Mark 2 Coaches Accept The Inevitable?

The title of this post has been chosen for the same reason I used When Do Mark 3 Coaches Accept The Inevitable?

As with the other article, I’m starting with a preamble.

What Is A Mark 2 Coach?

A Mark 2 Coach is the predecessor to the Mark 3 Coach.

The Wikipedia entry for the British Rail Mark 3 Coach , starts with this paragraph.

The Mark 2 family of railway carriages were British Rail’s second design of carriages. They were built by British Rail workshops (from 1969 British Rail Engineering Limited) (BREL) between 1964 and 1975. They were of steel construction

They became the mainstay of the Inter-City fleet and some are still in use today on the Caledonian Sleeper and for charters.

From Inter-City To Mozambique Via New Zealand

This post was brought about by this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled Former British Rail Trains Find New Lease Of Life In Mozambique.

What the title doesn’t say, is that the coaches were originally sold second-hand to New Zealand in the 1990s, where they were re-gauged to three foot six inches. They are now surplus to requirements and are being moved on to Mozambique, where the gauge is the same.

The Wikipedia entry for the New Zealand British Rail Mark 2 Carriage says this about the gauge conversion.

Because of construction constraints, most railway lines in New Zealand have a limited loading gauge. Great Britain uses 1,435 mm (4 ft 8in) standard gauge, but its loading gauge is only slightly larger than New Zealand’s Cape gauge. This means that British Rail rolling stock like the Mark 2 carriage can run on most New Zealand lines after gauge conversion. To fit the New Zealand loading gauge, the Mark 2s were lowered on their new bogies by 25 centimetres.

This is the introduction to the Wikipedia entry for Cape gauge.

Railways with a track gauge of 3 ft 6 in / 1,067 mm were first constructed as horse-drawn wagonways. From the mid-nineteenth century, the 3 ft 6 in gauge became widespread in the British Empire, was known as the Cape Gauge, and was adopted as a standard in Japan and Taiwan.

There are approximately 112,000 kilometres (70,000 mi) of 1,067 mm gauge track in the world, which are classified as narrow gauge railways.

There are quite a lot of raiways with this gauge.

Could modern UK rolling stock be converted to the 1,067 mm narrow gauge?

I suspect the answer is n the affirmative and new British rolling stock like a Bormbardier Aventra or CAF Civity could be adapted to fit the narrow gauge in Australia, New Zealand and large parts of Africa.

September 1, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Midland Metro’s £149m Extension To Open In 2021

The title of this post is the same as an article on Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A 2km extension of Transport for West Midlands’ Midland Metro has been given the go ahead in the UK.

The £149 million extension will link Grand Central, in Birmingham’s city centre, with the southern suburb of Edgbaston with five new stops served by up to 10 trams an hour at peak times.

This article in the Birmingham Mail, gives more details.

The locations of five new stops to be built in the next phase of the Midland Metro extension have been confirmed.

The line is being taken an additional 1.2 miles from outside New Street station to Hagley Road.

As previously mooted, there will be stops outside Town Hall Birmingham and at Centenary Square, in Broad Street, where passengers can access the ICC, Library of Birmingham and new HSBC UK head office.

The other stops will be opposite Brindleyplace at the corner of Granville Street, outside the Cineworld cinema in Broad Street and in front of office block 54 Hagley Road, close to the Morrisons supermarket.

I think that the design of the route has been kept fairly simple and also involves some pedestrianisation.

From New Street To Broad Street

This Google Map shows the first section of the route from the current terminus of the Midland Metro at Grand Central outside New Street station to the start of Broad Street.

The blue dot outside New Street station shows the Grand Central tram stop.

The route goes up the hill, to the stop at Birmingham Town Hall before twisting to go down Broad Street to stop in Centenary Square.

Along Broad Street

This Google Map shows Broad Street from the Symphony Hall to the Cineworld Cinema.

Three stops are on this section.

  • Brindleyplace
  • Granville Street
  • Cineworld Cinema

This visualisation shows the route at the cinema.


  • The view is looking towards Five Ways.
  • Overhead electrification is used on this section.

Will the route be pedestrian only?

Through Five Ways Roundabout And On To 54 Hagley Road

This Google Map shows the last section of the route.

The roundabout looks to have plenty of space to thread the tram lines through.

54 Hagley Road is the office tower in the South West corner of the map, on the South side of Hagley Road. Again there seems plenty of space.

Sections Without Wires

The route bwtween Grand Central and Hagley Road will use a mixture of overhead wiring and onboard energy storage to power the trams.

It has been stated that in the historic centre, the trams will not use wires, as in this visualisation.

It appears that there will be wired sections either side of this section without wires in the centre.

This will ensure, that the onboard energy storage is well-charged before entering the section.

Cost And Timescale

Comments on the Birmingham Mail article, think the line is expensive and it will take a long time to build.

Looking at the route the two tricky sections are around Paradise Street and Five Ways, as there will need to be a lot of reconstruction of the road network.

But the sections running on onboard energy storage should be a lot easier to build.

At £149 million for 3.38 kilometres, the extension will cost £44 million a kilometre.

Manchester Metrolink’s Trafford Park Line will cost £350 million for 5.5 kilometres or £64 million a kilometre.

Is the lower cost/km. of the Birmingham Extension due to the sections without wires?

I suspect, it’s probably more complicated than that!


It looks a good scheme.

My only reservation is what will drivers think about a pedestrianised Broad Street, if that is part of the design.




September 1, 2017 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment