The Anonymous Widower

Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station

Leicester station is an important station on the Midland Main Line

  • Leicester is an urban area of half a million people.
  • All of East Midlands Railway Intercity services call as they pass through the station.
  • Leicester station is only sixteen miles North of the end of the Southern electrification at Market Harborough station.
  • Birmingham New Street is 40 miles away.
  • Clay Cross North Junction is 50 miles away.
  • Derby is 29 miles away.
  • East Midlands Parkway is 19 miles away.
  • Long Eaton is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 27 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 52 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 66 miles away.

A sensible decision would probably be to extend the electrification from Market Harborough to a few miles North of Leicester, so that battery-electric trains could reach all the places in the above list.

Unfortunately, the following about the bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station, must be noted.

  • The bridge doesn’t have sufficient clearance for electrification and would need to be rebuilt.
  • It carries the main A6 road to London over the railway.
  • The station building also spans the railway lines.
  • To complicate matters, there is an important sewer either in or under the bridge.

This Google Map shows the bridge and the Southern end of the station.

It looks to me, that Leicester station and the road, would have to be closed to traffic for some time, if the bridge were to be rebuilt, to allow the erection of electrification through the area.

A solution could be discontinuous electrification.

  • The electrification from the South, would finish on the South side of bridge.
  • The electrification from the North, would finish in Leicester station.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of a few hundred metres on battery power.

Pantographs could be raised and lowered, where the wires exist.

  • On the North side of the bridge, this could be in Leicester station, whilst passengers are getting off and on the train.
  • On the South side of the bridge, this could be as far South as Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles away.

The other big problem area of electrification on the Midland Main Line is North of Derby, where the railway runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. There might be serious opbjections to electrification in this area.

  • But if electrification were to be installed between Leicester and Derby stations, the following would be possible.
  • The Midland Main Line would be electrified at East Midlands Hub station.
  • Power could be taken from High Speed Two’s supply at East Midland Hub station.
  • Battery-electric trains could do a return trip to Nottingham from an electrified East Midlands Parkway, as it’s only sixteen miles in total.
  • Battery-electric trains could reach the High Speed Two spur into Sheffield at Clay Cross from Derby, as it’s only twenty-one miles.

I am assuming, that Hitachi’s Class 810 trains will have range of over fifty miles on battery power, which fits with Hitachi’s statements.


Discontinuous electrification and batteries on trains can solve the problem of electrification through Leicester station.

Also. electric trains could run between London and Sheffield, if the following were done.

  • The Class 810 trains were to be given a range of twenty-five miles
  • Electrification were to be erected between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrification were to be erected between Sheffield and Clay Cross Junction, as required by High Speed Two.

The electrification could be brought forward, to bring Sheffield early benefits of High Speed Two.

June 25, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , ,


  1. If the world worried about itself 150 years ago the Derwent Valley Mills would never have been built and the human race wouldn’t have bettered itself with what it achieved. About time we just got with sensible stuff and stopped worrying ourselves with such issues.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | June 25, 2020 | Reply

  2. I take your point, but there are plenty, who won’t have electrification anywhere near a World Heritage Site.

    My feeling is it needs a good engineering solution with an acceptable cost benefit ratio.

    Comment by AnonW | June 25, 2020 | Reply

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  6. In their submission to the NIC Leicester/shire emphasise their Masterplan for improving Leicester station (p14ff). This includes not just the station itself, but enhancements to the track and current platforms. I don’t know the details of this, but it will have to include a solution to any electrification issues.

    As for MML N of Derby, this will lose importance when HS2 becomes the ‘main line’. Electric trains from Derby would be able to run N via Toton. Other countries have OHE through WHSs, so I don’t see why GB should be any different. Ultimately, this is a political decision which rests with parliament/ministers.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 27, 2020 | Reply

  7. Hitachi have made lots of noises about AT-300 trains handling discontinuous electrification and having a range of 55-65 miles on batteries. But rebuilding that bridge at Leicester would be so complicated, it would probably shut the A6 and the station for at least two years. They’ve also got the problem of Knighton Junction South of the station, where trains will have to reverse at a new station to go for a Burton!

    When you specify a project for anything, it’s got to be able to be built and not cause too much disruption to people, who won’t benefit from whatever you’re creating.

    Every serious objector I’ve met to HS2, will only have it going to close to where they live and won’t be getting any benefit. One serious opponent, who was in his sixties, told me he’d never been north of Cockfosters in his life! He drove a German car and had a cottage in the Dordogne.

    North of Derby, through the WHS would also be difficult due to the number of tunnels.

    A lot of my views come from a group of drivers, who were in First returning to St. Pancras. They’d had a chat with one of the engineers working on electrification of the MML,

    Some bits are easy, but others are best put in the pending tray.

    Too many electrification projects have gone wrong in this country.

    It is my view, that we never have too much problem with electrification of new track. But old routes are so badly documented, that if there’s a sirprise sewer there, the builders will find it.

    If you look at Blackpool. It all went pear-shaped partly due to Carillion. The new contractor virtually rebuilt the railway with new track before they electrified it. But of course, because it was new, the problems had all been found.

    Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2020 | Reply

  8. just been looking at the Electrification Cost Challenge report On p48, they highlight the Cardiff Intersection Bridge, where they used a special coating with surge arrestors (don’t ask me to explain that) to electrify under a low bridge without any structural changes. I’m no expert on that sort of thing, but it sounds as if it could be applicable to Leicester.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 28, 2020 | Reply

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