The Anonymous Widower

Could The Crewe And Derby Line Become A Much More Important Route?

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Derby-Stoke-Crewe.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Our plans have the potential to increase passenger demand on the corridor by 72%, with faster, more frequent services.

They then give the outline of their plans, which can be summed up as follows.

  • Currently, the service is one train per hour (tph) and it takes 79 minutes.
  • The service frequency will go to two tph.
  • Twenty minutes could be saved on the second service by adjusting calling patterns.
  • Improved links at Crewe for High Speed Two. This must have been written before Stafford and Stoke got the High Speed Two service to Macclesfield.
  • East Midlands Railway are planning to extend the current Crewe and Derby service to Nottingham.

It seems a safe, and not overly ambitious plan.

These are my thoughts.

The Route

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and it appears to be double track all the way, except for a three mile section to the East of Crewe, that British Rail reduced to single track

However, in recent years the A5020 was built under the railway and the new bridge appears to have space for the second track to be restored, as this Google Map shows.


  1. The single track appears to be electrified, from the shadows of the gantries at either end of the bridge.
  2. West Midlands Trains appear to run an electric service between Crewe and Stafford on this route.
  3. I suspect it’s also used as a diversion route for Avanti West Coast’s Manchester service via Stoke-on-Trent or for train positioning.

Will this route allow High Speed Two trains to run between Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Piccadilly?

From picture and comments in a rail forum, I suspect that the route could be redoubled fairly easily.

  • The electrification runs for about 15.5 miles, between Crewe station and Stoke Junction, which is about half-a-mile on the other side of Stoke-on-Trent station.
  • Trains seem to be connected to the electrification for over twenty minutes, so it could be useful for charging a battery train, running between Stoke-n-Trent and Crewe stations.

This Google Map shows Stoke Junction.


  1. Stoke-on-Trent station is to the North.
  2. The electrified railway going due South is the West Coast Main Line to Stone and Stafford stations.
  3. The line without electrification going off in a more South-Easterly direction is the line to Uttoxeter and Derby.

Following the route between Derby and Crewe, these are my observations.

  • There is a level crossing at Blythe Bridge station.
  • Most of the bridges over the route are modern, so I suspect will accept electrification.
  • The route would appear to have a speed limit of 70 mph, but I would suspect that this could be increased somewhat as it doesn’t look too challenging.
  • The route is 51 miles long, so a service that takes the current 79 minutes with nine stops, would average 38.7 mph.
  • The proposed time of 59 minutes, would average 51.8 mph

I suspect there could be more to come, as the timetable is probably written for a Class 153 train.

A Crewe And Nottingham Service

The Midlands Connect plan says the service will be the following.

  • Two tph
  • A slow train in 79 minutes.
  • A fast train in 59 minutes.
  • East Midlands Railway want to extend services to Nottingham.

It could be a fairly simple easy-to-use timetable.

Fast Trains


  • Derby and Nottingham are 16 miles apart and fastest trains take between 19-22 minutes between the two cities.
  • When it opens, all trains would stop at East Midlands Hub station between Nottingham and Derby.
  • East Midlands Railway have a fleet that will include forty Class 170 trains.
  • I suspect that these 100 mph trains will be able to run between Crewe and Nottingham including the turnround in under 90 minutes.

This would mean that a fast hourly service would need three trains.

Slow Trains


  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see the slower services continuing as now and not extending to Nottingham.
  • 79 minutes is probably a convenient time, which would give a ninety minute time for each leg between Derby and Crewe, when turnround is included.
  • Trains would be more of the Class 170 trains.

This would mean that a slow hourly service would need three trains.

Could Battery Electric Trains Be Used?


  • I think it is likely that the route between Derby and East Midlands Parkway via East Midlands Hub station, will be electrified, in conjunction with Midland Main Line electrification.
  • Between Derby and Long Eaton stations via East Midlands Hub station is just under ten miles and takes ten minutes.
  • Nottingham and Crewe is 66 miles of which 25 miles in total could be electrified.
  • Derby and Crewe is 51 miles of which 15 miles are electrified.
  • The longest section without electrification is between Derby station and Stoke Junction, which is 35.5 miles.

Batteries would be charged in the following places.

  • Between Long Eaton and Derby stations.
  • During turnround at a fully-electrified Derby station.
  • Between Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe stations.
  • During turnround at a fully-electrified Crewe station.

That’s a lot better than with an electric car.

In Sparking A Revolution, I quoted this Hitachi-specification for a battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I can’t see any problem with one of these trains or other battery-electric trains with a similar performance, running between Crewe and Nottingham or Derby via Stoke.

Could Hydrogen-Powered Trains Be Used?

I would suspect so, as the Alsthom Coradia iLint runs a similar route in Germany.

Connections To High Speed Two

Midlands Connect noted the route’s link to High Speed Two at Crewe.

But it also has other links to High Speed Two at Stoke-on-Trent and East Midlands Hub stations.

I suspect some stations like Uttoxeter or Alsager will have a choice of fast routes to London or Scotland.

Could Services Be Extended From Crewe?

In Connecting The Powerhouses, I talked about an article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which proposed reopening the Midland Railway route between Derby and Manchester.

Some passengers and commentators fell a direct fast link is needed.

When High Speed Two is completed, the main route into Manchester Piccadilly will be a high speed spur from Crewe via Manchester Airport. Current plans include the following services.

  • One tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange.
  • Two tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common
  • Two tph from Birmingham Curzon Street


  1. All services will call at Manchester Airport.
  2. It is likely that Northern Powerhouse Rail will add six tph to Manchester Piccadilly from Liverpool via Warrington.
  3. Some services will extend through Manchester Piccadilly to Bradford, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.
  4. High Speed lines will probably have a capacity of up to eighteen tph.

The Birmingham Curzon Street, Liverpool and London Euston services would be eleven tph, so there would be more than enough capacity for an hourly train from Nottingham.

What would the service be like?

  • It would be between Nottingham and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • It could call at East Midlands Hub, Derby, Uttoxeter, Stoke-on-Trent, Kidsgrove, Crewe and Manchester Airport stations.
  • It would probably be hourly.

Timings could be as follows.

  • Nottingham and Manchester Airport – 87 minutes
  • Nottingham and Manchester Piccadilly – 91 minutes
  • Derby and Manchester Airport – 67 minutes
  • Derby and Manchester Piccadilly – 71 minutes
  • Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Airport – 32 minutes
  • Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Piccadilly – 36 minutes

The trains used on this and other local services that might need to use High Speed Two infrastructure would be performing a similar role as that of the Class 395 trains on High Speed One.

Possibilities must include.

  • A classic-compatible High Speed Two train.
  • A five-car AT-300 train, like East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains.
  • An updated Class 395 train.

All trains would need a battery capability with a range of 40 miles.

It should also be noted that in Options For High Speed To Hastings, I worked through the options needed to run high speed commuter services to Hastings.

This was the last sentence in that post.

It’s all about selling trains and a company that had a 140 mph or 225 kph high-speed electric train, that could do perhaps 25 miles or 40 kilometres on batteries, would have a valuable addition to their product range.

A train with a range of 50 miles on battery power, would be suitable for the following routes.

  • London St. Pancras and Hastings via Ashford International.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham via Manchester Airport, Crewe, Derby and East Midlands Hub.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Barrow-in-Furness via Manchester Airport, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Lancaster.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Chester via Manchester Airport and Crewe.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Shrewsbury via Manchester Airport and Crewe.

Charging might be needed at some of the terminal stations.


June 26, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I use this line quite a lot. Trains used to run through to Nott, but they stopped doing this, I think mainly because trains have to reverse at Derby – in some cases, if there was an immediate connection at D, it was faster to change there rather than wait for the driver to change ends etc. IMO it would be better for trains to continue on either to Matlock or to Chesterfield/Sheffield. I suspect the problem here is that this area falls between the differents regions and franchises: E Midlands run the trains, but it’s not really E Midlands, nor is it NW, nor is it really W Midlands.

    The service is currently poor, and it shouldn’t be difficult to improve the trains and the timings. It would also be easy to extend to Man Airport on the existing line. Once HS2 is operational, there should be extra capacity available on that line. The best way to connect Derby with Man would be to reopen the Bakewell line, but that wouldn’t help with getting to Man Airport, as there’s no connection from Stockport, and it’s hard to see how you could create one either.

    Btw, there’s nothing particularly new in HS2 classic-compatible stopping in Stoke. This dates from the decision to go ahead with Crewe Hub and bring phase 2a forward to coincide with phase 1 – from March 2018. Once you do that, the original link with WCML at Fradley between Lichfield and Rugeley serves no real purpose, unless classic-compatibles use it to connect with Stafford and on to Man via Stoke.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 29, 2020 | Reply

    • The Fradley link allows a Stafford, Stoke service to terminate at Macclesfield. But I also think, there might be extension South from Stafford to Wolverhampton or somewhere to the West of Birmingham. Some of the HS2 ideas, bring in some places that need development. They could want to get to Shrewsbury, which looks like it was a station designed for battery trains. But then battery trains and steam trains have a similar problem. One needs to be regularly topped up with electricity regularly and the other needs water all the time!

      I’ve got a few friends in the Derby area and they want to get to the Airport more than Manchester. If you ran Derby to Crewe with a classic compatible like a 395, it could take the route into Manchester via the airport from Crewe. I reckon that Airport-Piccadilly link is going to be busy. I also suspect they’ll put Manchester Piccadilly HS2 in a tunnel under the current station or Piccadilly Gardens. Trains from Liverpool to Leeds would go mWarrington, Manchester vAirport, Manchester Piccadilly then surface on the other side of Manchester.

      Comment by AnonW | June 29, 2020 | Reply

  2. There is no chord to go S to Wolves. You could conceivably turn L at Rugeley, but there’s no chord there either. You can’t run a c-c on Derby-Stoke as it isn’t electrified. In any case, it would make no sense, as Derby’s connection is via Toton (not currently planned, but would be possible given electrification). 395s aren’t classic-compatible – HS2’s trains have a far higher spec.

    I think it’s a given that with NPR, Man Picc has to be a through line, meaning it will have to be in a tunnel. I think this is one of the main things that will come out of the current phase 2/NPR review. Once that is settled, you could run c-c from Stafford/Stoke thru Man to Leeds etc.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 29, 2020 | Reply

  3. with the new timetable, EMR have now extended Crewe-Derby not only through to Nottingham, but on to Newark, treating this more as a ‘regional’ route rather than a local service. They’ve rerouted trains between Grimsby and Newark N Gate on to Nottingham (and Newark Castle), and introduced a stopping service Lincoln-Newark NG. I was caught out by this yesterday, as I wanted to go from one of the stns between Lincoln and Newark through to Not, but had to hike from N Gate to Castle, and just missed the train to Not. The turnround at Derby was surprisingly fast, just a couple of minutes.

    They seem to now be using 156/8s on this line, and various posters highlight introduction of ‘new trains’. However, from the photo, these seem to be 170s, which are hardly ‘new’.

    Comment by Peter Robins | May 19, 2021 | Reply

    • They have a lot of 170s to come.

      Comment by AnonW | May 19, 2021 | Reply

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