The Anonymous Widower

Department Of Transport Claims London and Sheffield Times Could Be Cut By Thirty Minutes

In this article on the BBC, which is entitled Government Announce £401m Boost For Rail Services, this is said.

The funding announcement coincided with the completion of the first phase of the £1.5bn Midland Main Line Upgrade, which has supported the launch of East Midlands Railway’s (EMR) first electric services on the route between Corby in Northamptonshire and London St Pancras.

The project will see journey times between Sheffield and London cut by up to 30 minutes, the DfT said.

So how feasible is the claim of a thirty minute cut in London and Sheffield timings?

On Monday, the 07:30 train from London to Sheffield, covered the 164.7 miles in two hours and twelve minutes at an average speed of 74.9 mph.

If that train had done the trip in one hour and forty-two minutes, that would have been an average speed of 96.9 mph.

By the time, the new Class 810 trains arrive in a couple of years, they will be able to use the new electrification to Market Harborough, when on Monday the 82.8 miles without a stop, was covered in an hour, at an average speed of 82.8 mph.

These new trains are 125 mph electric trains under the wires and they will have two separate fast lines on which to run.

Example time savings at various average speeds to Market Harborough are as follows.

  • 100 mph – 10 minutes saving.
  • 110 mph – 14.8 minutes saving.
  • 125 mph – 20.3 minutes saving
  • 130 mph – 21.8 minutes saving
  • 140 mph – 24.6 minutes saving


  1. The faster the average, the greater the time saving.
  2. Faster than 125 mph would only be possible with full in-cab digital signalling, which is currently being installed on the East Coast Main Line.
  3. I have been to Leicester in an InterCity 125, which was running at 125 mph most of the way.

But it does look like the new Class 810 trains will be able to save around twenty minutes to Sheffield, by making full use of the electrification between London and Market Harborough.

They would need to save just ten minutes between Market Harborough and Sheffield.

The Monday Train covered the 81.9 miles between Market Harborough and Sheffield in one hour and twelve minutes, which is an average speed of 68.3 mph.

To obtain the saving of ten minutes, it would need to do the journey in one hour and two minutes, which would be an average speed of 79.3 mph.

Given that the new Class 810 trains are designed to cruise at 125 mph on diesel, I don’t think this is an impossible objective.

What Will Be The Ultimate Time Between London and Sheffield On The Midland Main Line?

I believe that the following two sections of the Midland Main Line can be easily electrified.

  • Between Leicester and Derby without the problem of the bridge at the South end of Leicester station, which would be so disruptive.
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield which will be electrified for High Speed Two. I doubt Derby and Clay Cross Junction will be electrified as it’s a World Heritage Site.

On my Monday train, the following are times North of Leicester.

  • Leicester and Derby is 29.3 miles, which is covered in 32 minutes at an average speed of 55 mph, which includes five stops. Raise this to 110 mph and the journey time is just 16 minutes or a saving of 16 minutes.
  • Derby and Clay Cross North Junction is 21.8 miles, which is covered in 13 minutes at an average speed of 100 mph. By averaging 120 mph, there would be a saving of 2.1 minutes.
  • Cross North Junction and Sheffield is 15.5 miles, which is covered in 16 minutes at an average speed of 58.2 mph.


  1. Savings would come between Leicester and Derby because of 125 mph linespeed and faster stops because of electrification.
  2. I believe that Hitachi battery-electric trains could sustain 125 mph on battery alone between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, if they entered the section without electrification at full speed with full batteries. Now that is what I call a battery-electric train!
  3. There must be a minute or two to be saved on an electrified section into Sheffield with the stop at Chesterfield.

Add up all the savings and I feel that an hour and a half is possible between London and Sheffield.

And what time is High Speed Two claiming? One hour and twenty-seven minutes!

Could A Battery-Electric Train Cruise At 125 mph?

This may seem a silly idea, but then trains don’t care where they get their electricity from.

On the 21.8 miles between Derby and Clay Cross North, a sizeable proportion of energy will be used to accelerate the train up to the linespeed for the electrified section.

When the train enters the section without electrification, it will have two sources of energy.

  • The electricity in the full batteries.
  • The kinetic energy in the train at the required speed.

As the train runs through the section air and rolling resistance will tend to slow the train and electricity from the battery will be used to maintain speed.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?. I estimated that for a Class 801 train to maintain 125 mph needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

A simple sum of 21.8 * 5 * 3.42 gives an energy need of 372.8 kWh to run between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction.

I’m sure than Hitachi can fit a 400 kWh battery in a five-car Class 810 train.

Would a slightly larger battery and in-cab signalling allow battery-electric trains to run at 140 mph? If the track allowed it, I don’t see why not!


I believe the Department of Transport’s statement of saving thirty minutes between London and Sheffield is feasible.

But so is a time of an hour-and-a half, which will give High Speed Two a run for its money!


May 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Could West Africa Become A Green Energy Powerhouse?

I ask this question, because I have just read this article on Hydrogen Fuel News, which is entitled Green Hydrogen Potential Causes Germany to court West African countries.

The article has this sub-title.

Nations in that part of Africa have the capacity to meet 1500 times Germany’s 2030 H2 demand.

That would appear to be a massive amount of hydrogen.

This extract from the article, talks about energy production.

Initial results for the 15 West African Economic Area (ECOAS) countries revealed that a massive three quarters of West African land is appropriate for wind turbines. Moreover, the electricity production from wind energy in the region costs about half the amount it would in Germany.

Additionally, solar power systems can also be economically operated on about one third of the West African region.

Add in a few large electrolysers and you have the hydrogen.

The hydrogen can be transported to Germany by tanker, either as hydrogen or ammonia.

The German strategy is to be underpinned by education, as this extract explains.

In support of developing West African green hydrogen production, a new master’s graduate program on clean H2 technology will begin in September. The purpose of the program will be to train local green hydrogen scientific specialists. The first three waves of the program are expected to train about 180 students attending four universities in Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal, and Niger.

Perhaps the Commonwealth should do something similar in West African countries like Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

After all many parts of Australia have very similar climate and population densities and probably energy generation potential to large parts of West Africa.

The Geographical Advantage

It should also be noted that geographically West Africa is close to Europe by ship.

There are no pinch points like the Suez Canal

As the European hydrogen gas network grows, the journey will get shorter.

Does anybody know how long it would take a tanker to go between say Accra in Ghana to Rotterdam?


I would see four main benefits coming to West Africa.

  • Electricity for all.
  • Employment to support the new industries.
  • Hydrogen to power transport.
  • The value of all those exports.

Hopefully, the standard of living of all those in West Africa would improve.


May 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marsh Barton Station – A Ride-To-Work Station

According to this article on pbctoday, work has started at the new Marsh Barton station in Exeter.

This first paragraph from the article makes it clear.

Graham has commenced works on the construction of the new £16m Marsh Barton railway station in Exeter.

This Google Map shows the location.


  1. The Riviera Line between Paignton and Exeter towards the Western side of the map.
  2. Clapperbrook Lane running to the South-West corner of the map over the railway.
  3. The large blue-clad building with the chimney, is the Viridor energy-from-waste plant.
  4. Marsh Barton itself is a large trading estate to the North-East of the railway.

The station will be built where Clapperbrook Lane crosses the railway,

This document of the Devon County Council (DCC) web site gives more details about the station.

This image from the DCC document shows how the completed station will look.

These are my thoughts.

Crossing The Tracks

A cycle and foot bridge will be built parallel to the current Clapperbrook Lane East Bridge over the railway.

The DCC document says this about the bridge.

The key changes from the previous proposal relates to the ramps and access
between the two platforms. The previous design included ramps running parallel to
the railway, with long ramps and imposing structures due to Network Rail
requirements for their asset. The redesign now includes the ramps and a new bridge
constructed parallel to Clapperbrook Lane. This will instead be a Devon County
Council-owned asset and allows Devon County Council standards to be applied for
their pedestrian bridges. This is more in line with preferences expressed by disability
groups who supported shorter length but slightly steeper gradient with resting

It looks to me that the final design will be much more aesthetically-pleasing than some of the structure Network Rail have erected lately.

These pictures show Network Rail’s traditional approach at Horden station.

I feel the Devonian approach could be better, when I see it.

From the Google Map 3D image of the station, it looks like the bridge could be already under construction, so I don’t think, I’ll have long to wait.

The Platforms

The DCC document says that there will be two 124 metre long platforms, which will take six-car local trains.

It strikes me that although 124 metres can accommodate a formation of three Class 150 trains, it might be  too short in the future.

Especially, as trains likely to be available in battery-electric versions, which will surely be used to decarbonise the Riviera Line in the future, all have cars of 23 metres or longer.

Both platforms appear to have just a single waiting shelter.

Cycle Parking

There are twenty parking spaces for cycles on each side of the line.

The DCC document says this about local housing and cycling.

The station will be within reasonable cycling distance of the 2,500 dwelling South
West Exeter strategic allocation and Alphington village and so forms an important
part of mitigating traffic impacts on routes on the western side of the city.

Is there enough provision for the secure storage of cycles?

Disabled Parking

There are just three parking spaces for disabled passengers.

Car Parking

There are no generally-available car parking spaces.

The DCC document says this about car parking.

The scheme will also support aims for low-car development aspirations as part of the
emerging Liveable Exeter housing plans, which includes proposals for strategic
levels of housing in the Marsh Barton area, all within easy walking distance of the

But will the station persuade local residents to forgo driving into Exeter and use the train?

Who Will Use The Station?

The DCC document talks of Marsh Barton station being a destination station for those who work in the area.

It also says this about leisure use.

In addition, the existing Clapperbrook Lane adjacent to the station provides an important link into the Riverside Valley multi-use trail network for leisure trips as well as commuter journeys to RD&E and County Hall, within a short walk/cycle distance of the station. Being located adjacent to a high quality, attractive cycle network offers huge potential to improve integration between rail and cycling.

Currently the lane is very popular with over 400 cyclists per day recorded crossing the rail bridge; however, it is narrow with poor visibility and although lightly trafficked is not suitable for all young families, people with disabilities or people less confident on bicycles.

I have a feeling that the station will need some extra facilities to attract more passengers. Ideas like a drop-off and pick-up facility, a warm place to wait and perhaps a local shuttle bus come to mind.

But as I said in the title it is very much a Ride-To-Work station.


The station has an interesting feature in the bridge over the railway, which gives full step-free access.

But I do feel that some of the details of the station will need some extra thought.

From other pages on the web, it appears the station is being constructed under a Design and Build contract with experienced station builder; Graham Construction. So hopefully, the details will be properly sorted.

The proof of the quality of the design will be in the usage figures.

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments