The Anonymous Widower

’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut

The title of this post, is the same as that of a news snippet in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

There is a picture of the electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive moving a nuclear flask from Sizewell on the closed Aldeburgh branch line to Crewe.

Note that is about 27-28 miles from the electrification at Ipswich East Suffolk Junction and the siding close to the power station, where flasks are loaded.

This is a classic use of an electric locomotive, that has a Last Mile-capability using an on-board diesel engine.

Many ports in the UK, like these examples are a few miles from the electrified network.

  • Felixstowe – 16 miles
  • Liverpool – 5 miles
  • London Gateway – 4 miles
  • Southampton – 2 miles

How many trains could be hauled to and from these and other ports using a Class 88 locomotive or their similar, but more powerful sibling; the Class 93 locomotive?


I suspect there are a number of routes that could be handled by electro-diesel locomotives.

I would like to see a serious analysis of all duties performed by diesel locomotives, like for example; Classes 66, 67, 68 and 70 locomotives, to see how many could be performed by suitably-sized electro-diesel locomotives.

If  there is a gap in the market, then a rolling stock leasing company, should fill it!

Just like Beacon Rail Leasing and Clayton Equipment appear to have done with a diesel shunter, which I wrote about in UK Diesel-Battery Hybrid Locomotive Lease Fleet Ordered.

As Beacon Rail Leasing seem to be heavily involved in the leasing of electro-diesel locomotives, perhaps, they’re working on it?


May 22, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


  1. Should be mandated that where the routing is partial under the wires you have to use a class 88/93 or any other electro diesel/battery thats available

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | May 22, 2020 | Reply

    • I agree up to a point, but I do feel we need a lot more electro-diesel locomotives and possibly a smaller one and certainly a larger one.

      I got my June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways today and there’s a picture of the last Stadler train for Greater Anglia being towed to Crown Point depot at Norwich, by a Class 66 diesel. Does this have to be used, as there is no direct 25 KVAC route from the Channel Tunnel to Norwich? So do we need a dual-voltage locomotive as well? Remember that two dual-voltage Class 319 trains were able to link up British and French rail networks through the Channel Tunnel!

      Comment by AnonW | May 22, 2020 | Reply

      • Class 92 could have through worked it though

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | May 22, 2020

  2. Yes! But do they have the couplings for it? We also probably need more electric locomotives too, but that’s another matter!

    Comment by AnonW | May 22, 2020 | Reply

  3. The mileages for last mile into the ports are all pretty low, surely would be a good case for long term investment.

    Within the port may be more of an issue as I can understand that cranes and overhead electric cables wouldn’t play well together (localised battery shunters needed)

    Comment by MilesT | May 23, 2020 | Reply

  4. I once watched an Ipswich away match with a crane driver from Felixstowe. He told me accidents do happen.

    I also think, that there is an electrical path between the hook and the crane, so you’d probably electrify the whole structure, if the hook touched the wires.

    As you say battery shunters and probably more sidings would be needed.

    It would probably, reduce the efficiency of a port.

    Comment by AnonW | May 23, 2020 | Reply

    • Ship-to-shore cranes are increasingly being fitted with sensors and smart computer-controlled systems to prevent clashes with neighbouring cranes’ jibs. It is, in effect, like a sort of ‘interlocking’ in that it’s designed to avoid conflicting movements. If it’s possible to design-out the risk of one crane hitting another, an STS crane can surely also be programmed not to go near railway electric wires. OHLE would, after all, be a fixed part of the overall port infrastructure.

      For some years now, the smaller and more mobile RTGs (rubber-tyred gantries – which straddle the containers to pick them up) have been automated in some SE Asian ports. These computer-controlled, driverless vehicles zoom around container stacks with no risk of hitting each other thanks to sensors in the roadway. Nor are they going to hit people – in fully automated terminals there are no people on the ground.

      Small jib cranes, which potentially present more of a risk, tend to be used in smaller ports and terminals, or within defined areas of a port. In these cases, good terminal layout design and use of sensors and in-cab warning systems can manage risks to an acceptable level.

      While clearly you can’t have wires of any sort, electrified or not, over railway sidings where containers are being lifted off wagons, a battery shunter or perhaps even a winch would be adequate for positioning wagons under the gantry crane.

      In a well-designed modern port or terminal operating to the latest safety standards and making full use of automation, there is no reason why the wires can’t extend into the port area for all but the last few hundred metres under the gantry.

      Comment by Stephen Spark | May 23, 2020 | Reply

  5. […] That makes a second Class 88 locomotive story, where the locomotives are serving new routes, after ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut. […]

    Pingback by Class 88 Locomotive Heads On To The East Coast Main Line « The Anonymous Widower | May 23, 2020 | Reply

  6. […] ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut, I describe how a Class 88 locomotive moved a flask from Sizewell to […]

    Pingback by Direct Rail Services Disposes Of Heritage Locomotives « The Anonymous Widower | January 21, 2022 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: