The Anonymous Widower

Grand Union Plans ‘93s’ To Stirling

The title of this post, is the same as an article in the August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Grand Union Trains hopes to use tri-mode Class 93 locomotives ordered by Rail Operations (UK) Ltd on its proposed Stirling to London Euston open access service – if it is approved by the Office of Rail and Road.

The article also says that they will be using nine-car rakes of Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer.

  • Full-length InterCity 225 trains have the same formation.
  • A full-length InterCity 125 can carry 406 Standard Class and 129 First Class passengers.
  • InterCity 225 trains are hauled by a Class 91 locomotive, which is rated at 4.8 MW.
  • A Class 93 locomotive has a rating of 4 MW on electricity.

As the Class 93 locomotive has a maximum speed of 110 mph, as opposed to the 125 mph of the Class 91 locomotive, the reduced power is probably enough.

Th following sections give more information from the article.

Planned Route

This sentence from the article gives the route.

If approved, trains will call at Greenfaulds, Whifflet and Motherwell on their way south from Stirling, then Lockerbie, Carlisle, Preston, Crewe and Nuneaton before arrival in London.

The route appears to be fully-electrified.

Planned Timetable

More details of the planned service are also revealed.

  • Trains will be approximately every three hours.
  • There will be four trains per day in each direction.
  • The first train South will leave Stirling at 05:15
  • The first train North will leave Euston at 07:30.

That will be a total of around 3,500 seats per day or over a million seats per year.

Planned Start Date

A start date around the end of 2022 is suggested, but it does say that delivery of the Class 93 locomotives could make this tight.

But it does appear that gauge clearance for the service is in hand.


I like this service proposal and I think the Class 93 locomotive improves it.

I do think if Grand Union’s service is an operational success, that we will see these locomotives replacing Class 68 locomotives on passenger services, where there is a proportion of electrification.

Could the almost brand-new Class 68 locomotives be converted to run on hydrogen, as surely they are too young for the scrapyard?

Stadler are not stupid and I suspect they could be converted to something with a smaller carbon footprint. My choice would be hydrogen.

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


  1. Despite being about 30 years old I Iike the idea that the Mk4 coaches may be getting further use having been involved in the Intercity 225 trainsets and the driveline of the Class 91 loco.
    I don’t think the Caterpillar engine in the Class 68 will be getting a pure hydrogen conversion for some time, more likely it’ll be one of the bio/advanced bio fuels that can cut GHG emissions by 50-60% in the short term and followed by e-fuels that have some hydrogen.

    Comment by fammorris | August 11, 2021 | Reply

  2. Without tilt trains would have to observe the lower PSR’s so probably an advantage north of Preston being lower geared and have plenty of tractive effort to lift the trains over Shap and Beattock at high speed.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | August 11, 2021 | Reply

    • I have read in Rail Magazine that with fairly heavy freight trains, the Class 88 can actually get over these climbs on diesel.

      Comment by AnonW | August 11, 2021 | Reply

  3. I just read an excerpt from a Modern Railways article by Ian Walmsley in which he speaks of a 3000hp Class 66 clearing the summit of Shap at 15 miles an hour and also said that…. “the Government, ………, should set up a ‘scrappage’ scheme for freight operators to swap ‘66s’ for ‘88s’, thus saving pollution and reducing traffic”
    As for 88s with a 900+hp diesel clearing Shap…..

    Comment by fammorris | August 11, 2021 | Reply

    • Read this article.

      This is said.

      Sample performances over the northern section of the West Coast Main Line (Preston –Carlisle–Mossend) demonstrate that Class 88 can operate the same train weight to the same schedule as Class 68 using 15% less energy. Alternatively, it offers a 45-minute time advantage over a ‘68’ and 80 minutes for Class 66. This gives a competitive edge because a significant proportion of movement costs are absorbed by fuel.

      When hauling the maximum permitted load of 1,536 tonnes on the 1 in 75 banks on this route, Class 88 has a balancing speed of 34mph in electric mode or 5mph in diesel mode. Taken together, all these factors helped Class 88 win the Rail Freight Group ‘Rail Freight Project of the Year’ Award in the Innovation and Technical Development category this year.

      I would assume the 93 will outperform the 88.

      It looks to me on the flat lands of Suffolk, a Class 93 should be able to drag a heavy freight train from Felixstowe to Peterborough!

      Comment by AnonW | August 11, 2021 | Reply

  4. Some great articles in Rail Engineer concerning Class 66, 88 and 93. Well worth a read.
    Class 66 with its dirty two stroke either needs new 4-stroke engines and an advanced low emissions fuel or flogging off to European operators who also have them.
    Good also to work out ABB’s role in packaging Asian originating Lithium Ion cells used in traction batteries for Stadler locomotives and multiple units.
    Will Class 93 haul freight trains from Felixstowe to Peterborough? If it’s an approved freight route why not.

    Comment by fammorris | August 12, 2021 | Reply

    • I will look it up.

      My question about Felixstowe and Peterborough was about whether the locomotive, which probably has a computerised fireman to juggle the various power sources could drag a train on the route using the limited electrification and a bit of diesel.

      If it could, then a fair proportion of Felixstowe freight services could be run by Class 93 locomotives.

      As other ports and freight terminals are up to fifty miles from electrification, if Stadler can crack Felixstowe, there could be a large number of possible sales.

      Comment by AnonW | August 12, 2021 | Reply

      • This article is as close as you’ll get to an answer. Personally I get the impression it’s being a little bit optimistic in that in hybrid mode it looks a bit shy of range. For comparison the Class 66 has more than twice the installed power as a Class 93 in hybrid mode but with the 66 geared to run 30% faster, that means much less tractive effort for a given speed. Even if the battery pack is contributing 120kW on top of the 900kW from the diesel, for practical purposes you’re not going to get more than 30 minutes in hybrid mode. How long is the unelectrified section from Felixstowe towards Bury St. Edmunds, what trailing loads can be expected and what average speed can be maintained over the topography – that’ll be the test.

        Comment by fammorris | August 12, 2021

      • Meant to say the Class 66 is geared to run 30% slower than the Class 93

        Comment by fammorris | August 12, 2021

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