The Anonymous Widower

A Very Long Freight Train At Camden Road Station

I took these pictures as a very long freight train passed through Camden Road station.


  1. I estimate the train had 45 positions for containers.
  2. Fourteen or fifteen were not filled.
  3. I suspect the train started in Wentloog in South Wales and was going to the Port of Felixstowe.
  4. That route is fully electrified from Wentloog to Ipswich.
  5. The journey took over eight hours.

This could be a route, where an innovative  Class 93 locomotive could be able to handle the freight train all the way across England and half of Wales.

  • Most of the way, the locomotive would be using the electrification.
  • The short distance at Wentloog and the fifteen miles at Felixstowe would be handled by the onboard diesel engine and the substantial battery.

These will be world-class zero-carbon freight trains, just by changing the motive power.

June 21, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Its absolutely daft that Felixstowe hasn’t been electrified as whilst the 93 has reasonable sized diesel engine will it be able to keep time over the single line sections on this route? Also ROGs have no container traffic but perhaps they expect to get contracts for haulage or hire of these locos.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | June 21, 2021 | Reply

    • In one interview, they are talking of fifty Class 93s. I suspect your supposition is right.

      Comment by AnonW | June 21, 2021 | Reply

    • It is my understanding that although the branch line to the port could be electrified, the port itself is more restricted (cranes or lift trucks to move intermodal containers between freight wagons, yard and ship and overhead catenary wires don’t mix well).

      Battery or H2 powered shunters is the way forward.

      Also, for quick turnaround the ships tend to keep their engines running (and can’t really rely on port power for ballast tank pumping as the containers are loaded/unloaded).

      20+ years ago I had experience of being on the port on a few occasions. My uncle was chief engineer of container ship “Sheldon Lykes” (small by modern standards) and on a couple of occasions my family visited him for tea in his quarters while in Felixstowe, and also did a mini North Sea cruise on the ship (which had passenger accommodation). This was on one of his last trips before retirement.

      Sadly ship, and uncle, are long gone.

      Comment by MilesT | June 22, 2021 | Reply

      • I Once spent an Ipswich Town away match sitting next to a crane driver from the Port of Felixstowe. He said it was not unknown for a container to be dropped and therefor safety means no electrified lines anywhere near cranes.

        Felixstowe in common with many other ports, is becoming a hydrogen hub, with the gas used to power work boats, tugs and container handlers. So hydrogen to refuel trains will be available.

        JCB is even one of the partners in Felixstowe Freeport. Is it that they have plans to dominate the world’s hydrogen-powered container handling equipment market?

        Comment by AnonW | June 22, 2021

  2. I believe that this train started at Freightliners in Wentloog Road, Cardiff.

    It is beyond belief that the UK’s rail network is so dysfunctional that a freight train destined for Felixstowe should be routed through Camden Road Station, less than a kilometre from Regent’s Park.

    When the M25 Orbital Motorway was built to divert road traffic, a dead zone was created with poor amenity value caused by the resultant noise and pollution. It created a perfect opportunity for a rail orbital to be built alongside with only a marginal additional amenity penalty.

    It is hardly surprising that we have one of the world’s most expensive railway systems.

    Comment by John Robin St.Clair | June 21, 2021 | Reply

    • I part grew up in Felixstowe and you have to remember that the port didn’t have the unionisation of other ports and it gradually took business from them.

      Now that is forming a Freeport with Harwich, we can expect more trains going to and from the East.

      Although some will use the East-West route and go via Oxford to Wales.

      As the port will be a hydrogen hub, the locomotives using the port will be hydrogen-powered. I don’t think they’ll use fuel cells, but the next generation of gas-turbine generators. Rolls-Royce already have a 2.5 MW prototype, that’s the size of a keg of Adnams.

      Comment by AnonW | June 21, 2021 | Reply

    • The North London Line has always been used for freight trains as it’s one of the few East West railways since Dr Beeching closed other routes while the other alternative which Dr Beeching did not recommend for closing the Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge was also closed .

      It’s worth remembering that had the North London Line closed its route could have become one of the ring roads ( of which only the M25 outer ring was built ) meaning these trailers would now be travelling on separate diesel lorries on a motorway through Regents Park !

      Things may change when the East West Rail Project reinstates the Varsity line later this decade but this Government hasn’t authorised electrification!

      Comment by Melvyn | June 21, 2021 | Reply

      • After the GWR electrification, there is a substantial opposition to putting up wires from the countryside lobby. But I’m fairly confident that that technology will evolve that won’t need wires. There are some big players like GM and Cummins entering the market.

        Always follow the money.

        Comment by AnonW | June 22, 2021

  3. The persistent belief that by changing the fuel powering the prime mover a.k.a. the engine(s) at the head of the train somehow zero carbon freight trains are achieved needs further thought. The embedded power required to build and service the engines and consist platforms (trailers) makes the claim of zero carbon freight trains a non starter. If you refer to “Gridwatch” on evenings of light wind you will see that we are heavily reliant on robust power sources — often to meet +50% of demand — to energise the electrified railway. Non robust sources include wind, PV panels, hydro and processed wood shipped from overseas on oil fuelled bulkers. Drax is a subsidy collector and not the green paragon we are led to believe.

    Comment by Thomas Carr | June 21, 2021 | Reply

    • Drax should never have been allowed but they only exploited what was available and i believe it still hasn’t been reversed that its green to burn wood pellets shipped half way round the world. The reality is only nuclear has decent green credentials, nothing has zero carbon, but even that has been blown up by the over engineering and safety requirements. To think that we started building Berkley Nuclear Station 65 years ago and did it in six years for brand new technology and it worked pretty well off the drawing board.

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | June 22, 2021 | Reply

      • My main business was writing project management software and we did a lot of work with the nuclear industry in the 1980s, including with EdF in France.

        I get the impression, that things have got slower, when it comes to building nuclear power stations.

        Comment by AnonW | June 22, 2021

  4. At Felixstowe, the Freeport is planning to generate hydrogen using a giant electrolyser on Sizewell C.

    JCB are a partner in the Freeport and I suspect they are up to something. Could it be they will develop a complete range of hydrogen powered cargo handling equipment?

    JCB lives in interesting times!

    I also believe that a lot of hydrogen will be generated offshore and stored in depleted gas fields. When it is needed, it will be brought ashore by means of the existing gas pipelines.

    That is surely the greenest of recycling?

    Comment by AnonW | June 21, 2021 | Reply

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