The Anonymous Widower

East-West Rail ‘Must Use Electric Trains’ – Layla Moran MP

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

These are the first three paragraphs.

It is of “paramount importance” that a £5bn direct rail line between Oxford and Cambridge uses electric trains, an MP has said.

The East West Rail project aims to connect the university cities by the end of the decade, but its electrification is yet to be confirmed.

MP Layla Moran said: “We’re in a climate emergency. No rail line should be designed for diesel by default.”

All trains need to be electric, but that doesn’t mean the lines need to be fully-electrified.

And if you design a railway for 100 mph diesel trains, you’ve also designed it for 100 mph electric trains.

In Solving The Electrification Conundrum, I explained how Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids, have developed a practical solution to running battery-electric trains on railways without full electrification.

Their system would be ideal for the East-West Rail Link and fulfil Ms. Moran’s wish of electric trains.

There just wouldn’t be large numbers of electrification gantries marching all over the countryside.

July 11, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Don’t forget the East West Rail route is also intended to carry freight, which would call for bi mode battery electric locomotives
    Apparently the UK Automotive Council estimate that the …”energy density of batteries could quadruple by 2035″, which is only one tenth of the energy density of diesel.
    So, for more demanding rail applications such as heavy freight, will batteries will ever have a major role. Come back in 2050 we might have a better idea by then.

    Comment by fammorris | July 11, 2021 | Reply

    • I believe and it appears that Freightliner do too, that we will be seeing 4 MW hydrogen-electric freight locomotives replacing Class 66 locomotives.

      The technology is there and it just needs someone like Stadler to put it all together.

      Hydrogen will be converted not by a fuel cell, but by a small gas turbine engine, as Rolls-Royce have already developed.

      The locomotives will take their own gas-fired power stations with them.

      Comment by AnonW | July 11, 2021 | Reply

    • Storing enough hydrogen on a train with a UK gauge for all day operation is difficult!

      Hydrogen has been so-far-so-good, but what happens when one catches fire and explodes. My experience with hydrogen, says it is unlikely in the UK or the EU, but there are some countries out there where it could be dangerous.

      In the UK, it might be better to use a hydrogen locomotive, a rake of coaches and a driving van trailer, as my calculations show a Class 68 locomotive-sized locomotive could carry enough hydrogen.

      Comment by AnonW | July 11, 2021 | Reply

  2. Its quite frankly unbelievable this isn’t be electrified would have been much cheaper with a bottom up construction like this job so if they can’t make the case doesn’t bode well for many other secondary lines.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | July 11, 2021 | Reply

    • There would be no problem at the Eastern end, but in the Oxford area, the Nimbys have been rather against electrification because bridges get rebuilt.
      Because there is electrification at Cambridge, Bedford and Bletchley, I suspect that Hitachi ABB Power Grids can find a solution to get electric trains running on the route.

      Comment by AnonW | July 11, 2021 | Reply

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