The Anonymous Widower

Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022

The title of this post is the saqme as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.

This statement means that whoever manufactures the trains has just over three years from today to design, build and test the trains.

This paragraph from the article talks about how Bombardier and Hitachi would design the trains.

It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.

What do we know about these two trains?

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

As is typical with Bombardier interviews, they give their objectives, rather than how they aim to achieve them.

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

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

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

Very little more can be gleaned from the later Modern Railways article.


  • Aventras are designed to a modular concept.
  • Bombardier have finally got the software for the train working to a high standard.
  • The trains are designed for ease of manufacture, at a high rate.
  • Development of the bi-mode train must have started before June 2018.
  • Christian Wolmar disclosed the objective of a 125 mph Aventra in February 2017.
  • I have seem references to Aventras, being tested at 110 mph.

On the balance of probabilities, I think it is very possible that Bombardier can deliver a full fleet of 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries before the end of 2022.

Hitachi AT-300


  • Class 802 trains are a version of the AT-300 train, which in turn are a member of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  • Class 802 trains are successfully in service on the Great Western Railway.
  • Class 385, 395, 800 and 801 are all members of the A-train family and are closely related to the Class 802 train.
  • The A-Train is a modular family.and different numbers of cars and car length, shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Hull Trains ordered their fleet of five Class 802 trains in November 2016 and they will enter service around December 2019 or early in 2020.
  • First Group ordered five AT-300 trains in March 2019 and they will enter service in Autumn 2021.

If the order has been placed in the last few months, there is every chance that Hitachi could deliver a fleet of new bi-mode trains for service in December 2022.

Stadler Flirt

These aren’t mentioned in the Rail Magazine article, but they were mentioned as a possibility for the order in an article by Roger Ford, which was entitled East Midlands IC125 Dilemma, in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract from Roger’s article.

In theory, Stadler should be in pole position. Itis also supplying Abellio’s Greater Anglia franchise, where Flirt bi-modes are running on test.

As they haven’t had any serious problems yet, and they are Swiss, everyone thinks they are amazingly efficient and wonderful. Whjich may turn out to be the case.

In the end, Roger rates their chances as slim.

But Stadler certainly has the technical capability to produce a 125 mph bi-mode train.

Electric Trains To Corby

When the electrified St. Pancras and Corby service opens in December 2020, a round trip will take three hours.

This means that as few as three trains would be needed to provide the service.

The specification would be.

  • Electric traction
  • Twelve cars and 240 metres long.
  • 125 mph capability.
  • Three trains and a spare would probably be needed by December 2020, with a further three trains by December 2021.

Abellio would also probably like the trains to be very similar for drivers and staff.

Currently, it appears that the electric services to Corby, will be run initially by cascaded Class 360 trains.

  • But with a bit of juggling of production, Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler might be able to manufacture, the four trains needed to start the service in December 2020.
  • Abellio also have Class 360 and Class 379 trains working on Greater Anglia, that are likely to be replaced before December 2020.

So they have a sensible back-stop.

How Many Trains Will Abellio Need?

The current service is two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

Even if there is a bit of a speed increase, it looks like at least eight trains will be needed for both services.

As to train length, I doubt five cars will be enough on all trains.

  • Some services are currently run by six and eight-car HSTs.
  • Have Abellio promised more seats?
  • Abellio will be extending some Sheffield services to Rotherham, Barnsley and Leeds.
  • It has already been stated that the Corby trains will be 240 metres long
  • So will we see a uniform fleet of longer trains?

There are some short platforms, so I suspect Abellio will buy a mixture of full-length 240 metre-long trains and half-length 120 metre-long trains, as several train companies have done.

I feel we could see something like eight full length trains and perhaps twelve half-length trains.

I have calculated that seven full-length trains are needed for Corby.

Adding this up gives the following.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

This gives a total of 27 trains of a total of 210 cars, of which 140 are bi-mode and 70 are electric.

All of this is based on running the current service with new trains.

abellio Greater Anglia have not not just done this in East Anglia, but have purchsed extra trains to add new services and increase frequencies.

So I would feel, that these trains are a minimum order, if Abellio are not doing any expansion.

Daily Telegraph Report – 19th July 2019

A report in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th July 2019, which is entitled Blow For Bombardier’s Derby Plant As £600m Train Contract Goes To Hitachi, says the order has gone to Hitachi.

  • Value is quoted at £600million.
  • A formal announcement is expected next week.

Has next week already passed without an announcement from Abellio?

I do find it strange, that there has been no reference to the Telegraph report in local sources around Derby.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service.

FirstGroup have ordered AT-300 trains.

  • All-electric.
  • Five trains of five-cars.
  • A total order value of £100 million.
  • Order placed in March 2019
  • Service starting in Autumn 2021

This works out at four million pounds per car.

Earlier, I calculated that Abellio needed to buy 140 bi-mode cars and seventy electric ones.

Assuming that Abellio run the Corby services with refurbished Class 360 trains, then 140 carriages will cost £560 million.

But this would mean the following.

  • Abellio would be running two separate fleets on the Midland Main Line.
  • The Corby services would run below the operating speed of the route.
  • Expansion would mean the purchase of more trains.

This is very different to their philosophy in Abellio Greater Anglia.

  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains are very similar to drivers and other staff.
  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia have significantly increased the size of their train fleet.

I believe that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler can all met this schedule.

  • Deliver four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Deliver another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • Deliver the fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

At four million pounds for a car for a Hitachi train, this works out at £840 million.

So could it be, that Hitachi have thrown in a good discount to make sure of the order.

It will be very interesting, when Abellio announce their order.

Interim Trains

Baroness Vere also discussed the other trains on the Midland Main Line.

This was the final two paragraph from the article.

As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.

When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.

So what is going to happen?

It appears that the four Class 180 trains and the twenty-seven Class 222 trains of various lengths will have to manage.

But I do think, that Baroness Vere’s statement.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022.

Is very welcome, as the HSTs will retire on the 31st December 2019 and there will be less than three years of a reduced fleet.

These points should also be noted.

  • In December 2020, when the electrification goes live and new electric trains start running between London and Corby, there will be a few more Class 222 trains available.
  • The Corby electric trains, will also add capacity between London and Kettering.
  • I don’t think it unlikely, that some other trains are rustled up to fill the gaps using perhaps Mark 4 coaches and Class 43 locomotives.

I hope for Abellio’s and their passengers sake, that what Baroness Vere said, comes true!

Could Abellio Go For A Safety-First Solution?


  • Abellio Greater Anglia’s new Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all running, if not years, but a few months late.
  • There has been nothing serious and Greater Anglia only has one fleet that is not PRM-compliant; the London and Norwich expresses.
  • Providing all goes reasonably well with the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, Greater Anglia’s fleet will be fully PRM-compliant, by the end of the year.

But if they had opted for off-the-shelf Hitachi Class 801 trains for London and Norwich, there might have been less worry. On the other hand, Hitachi way of making trains, by shipping the bodies from Japan probably doesn’t lead itself to high productio rates.

But for Midland Main Line services, Abellio East Midlands Railway aren’t looking at a large fleet of trains.

I estimate they could need.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

Now that Hitachi’s big orders are coming to an end, Abellio can probably be sure, they will get the main line trains on time and with the minimum of fuss.

Going the safety-first route of buying a fleet of Hitachi trains could deliver the trains that are needed urgently.

  • Four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • A fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

It might be a bit tight for the Corby electrics, but other trains that could work the route in the interim are available.

Abellio could do a lot worse than give Hitahi the order, if they could deliver early!


If any of the three train manufacturers can supply new trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service to the tight timetable, Abellio would surely be very pleased, as they would only have one train type to introduce on the route.

But I do think, that there is a possibility, that a good discount has won it for Hitachi!




July 26, 2019 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. not sure I see where bi-modes would run. Apart from the bit into St Pancras, little of E Midlands network is electrified.

    Comment by Peter Robins | July 26, 2019 | Reply

    • They would run all the way from Kettering to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield. on diesel.

      In a few years, Clay Cross to Sheffield will be electrified, as the route will be shared with HS2. It should be remembered that North of Derby, the line runs through a World Heritage Site. I doubt UNESCO and the Heritage Taliban will welcome electrification in that area!

      Comment by AnonW | July 26, 2019 | Reply

  2. having electrified railways in scenic/heritage areas doesn’t seem to bother the Swiss! They’d be much better off resuming the electrification of the entire MML, then they could run battery hybrids on the various branch lines. Bi-modes are just a short-term thing, they don’t solve the long-term problem. I’m still missing a coherent long-term decarbonisation plan.

    Comment by Peter Robins | July 26, 2019 | Reply

    • I believe that battery electric trains, with charging stations at major stations will replace bi-modes. Already Stadler are going to supply diesel-electric-battery Flirts to South Wales, where I suspect diesel and battery modules are interchangeable and plug-compatible. This could be Stadler’s World Domination Plan! If so, we’ll see it at work in East Anglia, with the Class 755 trains swapping diesel engines for batteries, selective electrification and charging at certain stations like Lowestoft and Felixstowe.

      Electrification is so problematic in the UK, as it is full of nasty surprises like sewers and old mine workings. It is also very disruptive to services, when it is being installed.

      So using diesel-electric bi-modes that can be converted later to battery-electric trains may be less costly in the long term.

      Comment by AnonW | July 26, 2019 | Reply

      • hmm, well, I’m not sure that electrification is all that problematic in the UK compared to, say, Switzerland, with all those mountains getting in the way. The country’s main lines (and there’s no doubt that MML is one of those) should be highish speed, and I can’t see batteries coping with that, though I’d agree there may well be scope for equiping electric trains with batteries to handle discontinuous electricification. Also handling short branches like Windermere. But I know of no other country that thinks that cancelling electrification projects is a good way to decarbonise the railway.

        Comment by Peter Robins | July 26, 2019

    • I was wrong. There is a coherent plan, published last week

      A must read, if you’ve not seen it.

      Comment by Peter Robins | August 1, 2019 | Reply

  3. There was an article in last Friday’s The Telegraph unambiguously saying the contract was to be given to Hitachi & would be worth £600m. The article is behind a paywall so I don’t know the full details.

    Comment by ivoroshea | July 26, 2019 | Reply

    • I found the article on the web, saying there will be a formal announcement next week.
      I’ll be interested to see if it includes the electric trains for Corby. Perhaps, Hitachi have got their production to a level to be able to do it. The 802s seem to be doing well as commuter exprsses between Paddington and Oxford.

      I’ve updated the post to reflect the Telegraph article.

      I suspect if Hitachi have the order they have offered a significant discount!

      Comment by AnonW | July 27, 2019 | Reply

  4. I think that hitachi and Bombardier have promised.
    Bi-mode for EMR, XC, WC is Hitachi
    Southeastern’s CLASS 465 Replacement EMU: Bombardier

    to split the orders for each factory employee,

    Comment by Yy Hiro | July 27, 2019 | Reply

    • You could have a very good point there!


      1. Remember that Bombardier and Hitachi are working together in High Speed Two.

      2. Hitachi have an off-the-shelf product in the Class 802 train, that could run St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond tomorrow.

      3. Bombardier have an off-the-shelf product i the Class 720 train, that could run St. Pancras and Corby, as soon as the wires go live!

      4. The Class 720 train is being tested at 110 mph according to reports.

      5. Bombardier could probably produce four trains for Corby, which might even be capable of 125 mph running, by December 2020.

      6. Hitachi might have more problem meeting the deadline for the electric trains, as bodies come from Japan. But they have more times for the bi-mode.

      7. Bombrdier are building a lot of Aventras for Abellio franchises, so could probably juggle the orders for Abellio.

      Could it be that Abellio have taken a safety first decision and decided to split the order? They did this with Greater Anglia, by buying from Stadler and Bombardier.

      Comment by AnonW | July 27, 2019 | Reply

      • Operators order Japanese Shinkansen from multiple manufacturers.
        The advantage of this is that while risks such as quality and the number of days of introduction can be diversified,
        It’s easy to adjust the price.
        To avoid that and to reflect their wishes, each operator has a subcontractor, a medium-sized rolling stock manufacturer.

        Comment by Yy Hiro | July 27, 2019

  5. What was not announced this week
    I think it’s mostly because of this article.

    But Abellio already holds the East Anglia (Greater Anglia) franchise and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) features it could have an impact on journey prices between Norwich and Ely and Thetford and Ely.

    The authority says this is because it will now be the only firm running passenger trains in those areas, whereas previously had been competition between Abellio and Stagecoach, which ran East Midlands Trains.

    Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at the CMA, which launched an investigation in June, said: “Thousands of people relation on this route, so it’s crucial that passengers don’t suit as a result of reduced competition.

    Comment by Yy Hiro | July 27, 2019 | Reply

  6. (Norwich and Ely and Thetford and Ely.)As a means to solve this,

    1.Transfer all Liverpool-Noridge services to TPE.
    2.The Nottingham-Noridge service is transferred to the LNER when the Great Northern route is transferred to the LNER.
    3.Transfer Nottingham-Noridge services to cross-country and reroute with Stansted services.

    Is it a shallow idea?

    Comment by Yy Hiro | July 27, 2019 | Reply

    • East Anglian routes need a good sorting.

      Abellio have said they will change Norwich-Cambridge to Norwich-Cambridge-Stansted and Peterborough-Ipswich to Peterborough-Ipswich-Colchester. The latter will go hourly, which means that Ipswich-Bury St. Edmunds will be half-hourly.

      What is needed is half-hourly Cambridge-Norwich and Cambridge-Ipswich services. This will come when East-West Rail arrives. But Cambridge needs it sooner!

      Comment by AnonW | July 27, 2019 | Reply

  7. seems to confirm Hitachi as supplier for MML

    Comment by Peter Robins | July 30, 2019 | Reply

  8. […] I shall constantly refer to an earlier post called Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022. […]

    Pingback by Rock Rail Wins Again! « The Anonymous Widower | July 31, 2019 | Reply

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