The Anonymous Widower

Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures of Bristol Temple Meads station, when I visited.


  1. The station is Listed to the highest level of Grade 1.
  2. London services seem to use Platforms 15 and 16.
  3. There is quite a fair bit of space between the tracks.

.Do Network Rail need all the hassle of full electrification of one of Brunel’s most famous creations?

Bristol Temple Meads Station And Trains With a Battery Capability

Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip. So this means that one of these trains could work the London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads stations service via Bath Spa using the electrification between London Paddington and Chippenham stations.

But where could trains reach, if they were able to leave Bristol Temple Meads station with a fully-charged battery?

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Filton Abbey Wood – 4 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Newport – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Severn Beach – 13.5 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Westbury – 28.5 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles


  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway, Filton Abbey Wood, Severn Beach and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Other local destinations could be added as the Bristol Metro develops.

This Google Map shows the station.


  1. The curving nature of the platforms doesn’t make 25 KVAC overhead electrification easy.
  2. Trains to and from London appear to use the two Eastern platforms 13 and 15.
  3. It might be possible to increase platform lengths to run longer trains to and from places like London.

I believe that there are three possible ways of charging the trains in Bristol Temple Meads station.

25  KVAC Overhead Electrification

This could be short length of standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification in platforms, that would be served by trains with pantographs like the Class 800 trains.

The driver would stop in the correct place in the platform and connect the pantograph, whilst waiting in the station.

Note that the Class 800 trains to and from London typically take 35-20 minutes to turn round, which is time enough for a full charge.

750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

This could be short lengths of standard 750 VDC third-rail electrification in platforms, that would be used by standard third-rail shoes on trains.

The train would connect automatically and charging would take place, whilst waiting in the station.

A Specialist Charging Facility Like Vivarail’s Fast Charge System

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system is described in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

This extract from this Vivarail press release explains how the system works.

he concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

I believe that this system or something like it could be adapted to work with all trains with a battery capability in the UK.

I also believe that this system can be designed so that it is ultra-safe and doesn’t disrupt, the visual impact of the station.


Bristol Temple Meads station could be converted into a station, where a high proportion of trains ran solely on electricity.




July 30, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , ,


  1. […] I write more about Britol Temnple Meads station as a battery train hub in Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020. […]

    Pingback by Bath Spa Station – 28th July 2020 « The Anonymous Widower | July 30, 2020 | Reply

  2. What is the viaduct pictured in the last two photos, and what work are they doing on it? Will it be brought back for railway use?

    Comment by Long Branch Mike | July 30, 2020 | Reply

    • It’s a road bridge! It could be called St. Philips Causeway.

      Comment by AnonW | July 30, 2020 | Reply

  3. Temple Meads needs full electrification for freight.

    Comment by William McIntyre | July 30, 2020 | Reply

    • That is a conservative view!

      I once had extensive talks with a Senior Crane Driver at the Port of Felixstowe during an Ipswich Town Away match. Ports don’t like overhead wires, as containers do get dropped and fall off rail wagons.

      For this reason, we need freight locomotives to be self-powered for a safe freight handling.

      I feel, that a new freight locomotive will develop.

      I did think, it would be hydrogen powered, but I’m not so sure now!

      The developments of Velocys, who are making aviation biofuel and biodiesel from household waste opens up two more possibilities.

      1. Run current freight locomotives on biodiesel.

      2. Power locomotives using 2.5 MW generators from Rolls-Royce running on aviation biofuel.

      Locomotives would be electro-diesel.

      Is there an avoiding line at Temple Meads? If so that could be electrified.

      There are a lot of possibilities.

      I like using biodiesel as an interim solution, whilst we get the new locomotives.

      Comment by AnonW | July 30, 2020 | Reply

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