The Anonymous Widower

Could High Speed Two Serve Holyhead?

Why?

It could be a way to create a zero- or low-carbon route between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

Battery-Electric Trains Could Be The Solution

In Will High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains Have Battery Operation?, I suggested that it might be feasible for High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains to have batteries.

I said this at the start of that post.

I believe it is very likely, that High Speed Two’s new classic-compatible trains will have battery capabilities.

    • Batteries would handle energy generated by regenerative braking.
    • Batteries would give a train recovery capability in case of overhead catenary failure.
    • Batteries would be used for depot movements.
    • Batteries would probably improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

Effectively, the batteries would power the train and would be topped-up by the electrification and the regenerative braking.

Since I wrote that post in February 2020, Hitachi have launched two battery-electric trains, one of which is the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As diesel (or should I say Stuart) engines are so nineteenth-century. any high speed independently-powered train would probably use batteries, have no diesel engines and be a battery-electric train.

So could Hitachi or any other bidder for the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains produce a train, that would be capable of handling the long-distance routes from London, that would be difficult or expensive to electrify, by the use of batteries?

  • Batteries will improve dramatically in the next few years.
  • Batteries will also become more affordable.
  • Engineers will also learn how to package them in better and more innovative ways.

I think it is very likely, that a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train could be produced with a reliable range of over eighty miles on batteries.

Holyhead And Crewe By Battery-Electric Classic-Compatible High Speed Train

These are the distances between stops on the route between Holyhead and Crewe

  • Holyhead and Bangor – 25 miles.
  • Bangor and Llandudno Junction – 16 miles
  • Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay – 4 miles
  • Colwyn Bay and Rhyl – 10 miles
  • Rhyl and Prestatyn – 4 miles
  • Prestatyn and Flint – 14 miles
  • Flint and Chester – 13 miles
  • Chester and Crewe – 21 miles

Note.

  1. It is a route of only 105 miles.
  2. There is no 25 KVAC electrification, except at Crewe.
  3. It is nearly all double-track.
  4. The operating speed is 90 mph
  5. The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

Suppose the following were to be done.

  • Erect traditional electrification between Chester and Crewe.
  • Hitachi ABB Power Grids build a section of their discontinuous electrification around Llandudno Junction.
  • Install a battery charging system at Holyhead.

An alternative might be to put another section of discontinuous electrification through Bangor, if installing the charging station at Holyhead proved to be difficult.

I believe it would be possible to run a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train equipped with batteries between London Euston and Holyhead.

What Time Would Be Possible?

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are predicting 56 minutes between London Euston and Crewe.
  • Avanti West Coast are showing journey times of one hour and 57 minutes between Crewe and Holyhead.
  • Avanti West Coast are using 125 mph Class 221 trains, but are restricted to a lot less than this speed.
  • The HSC Dublin Swift can sail between Dublin and Holyhead in several minutes under two hours.

I believe that a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train equipped with batteries could go between London Euston and Holyhead in under three hours.

If this were to be linked to the latest hydrogen-powered fast ferry between Holyhead and Dublin, would  London Euston and Dublin be fast enough to attract passengers from the airlines?

  • The journey time could be under five hours.
  • It would be zero-carbon.
  • By cutting stops to the West of Chester and track improvements train times could be reduced.
  • It would be the sort of adventure, that some families like!

I think that Avanti West Coast and the ferry company could have a rail and ferry service, that would appeal to many travellers.

Would There Be A Path To Euston For Another High Speed Service?

In How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?, I listed the trains that would use the Western leg of High Speed Two.

  • Train 1 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Lancaster – Classic Compatible
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible
  • Train 5 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible
  • Train 6 – London Euston and Macclesfield – Classic Compatible
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 8 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 9 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 12 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh or Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 13 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size
  • Train 14 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size

Note.

  1. A lot of the paths into London Euston would appear to be allocated.
  2. Train 4 is a pair of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that will split and join at Crewe, with one train going to Liverpool and the other going to Lancaster.
  3. Train 5 is only a single 200 metre long Classic-Compatible train.

I suspect it would be possible to make Train 5 a pair of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that will split and join at Crewe, with one train going to Liverpool and the other going to Chester and Holyhead.

It does appear that the proposed timetable for High Speed Two has been designed so extra trains can be added if the demand is there.

What Times Would Be Possible Between Holyhead And Crewe?

Consider.

  • I have looked at the route from my virtual helicopter and suspect that much of the route can be upgraded to 100 mph running.
  • The current average speed between Holyhead and Crewe is 54 mph.
  • London Liverpool Street and Norwich is 114.5 miles and is regularly achieved in ninety minutes on a 100 mph line, which is an average speed of 76 mph.
  • The number of stops could be reduced.

I can build a table of times for faster average speeds.

  • 60 mph – One hour and 45 minutes – Two hours and 41 minutes
  • 70 mph – One hour and 30 minutes – Two hours and 26 minutes
  • 80 mph – One hour and 19 minutes – Two hours and 15 minutes
  • 90 mph – One hour and 10 minutes – Two hours and 6 minutes
  • 100 mph – One hour and 3 minutes – One hour and 59 minutes

Note.

  1. The first time is Holyhead and Crewe.
  2. The second time is London and Holyhead.

I am fairly certain, that a substantial time improvement is possible.

Why Not Electrify All The Way Between Holyhead And Crewe?

I am seventy-four and can remember several incidents of serious storms and flooding along the North Wales Coast Line.

There was a warning earlier this year according to this article on the BBC.

Perhaps it would be better to spend the money on improving the resilience and operating speed of the track?

Conclusion

London Euston and Holyhead could be a serious proposition.

With some development and a new fast ferry, it could also open up a practical zero-carbon route between Great Britain and Ireland.

Times of four and a half hours between London Euston and Dublin could be possible.

 

August 21, 2021 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. I was only thinking yesterday what would it take for a NPR line (that was going from Leeds to Liverpool via Manchester) to be extended, under the Mersey to Birkenhead, then under the Dee Estuary to join the existing lines in-and-around Prestatyn for onward travel to Holyhead…

    Comment by PJS | August 21, 2021 | Reply

    • Some of the plans suggest NPR going via Warrington and along the Mersey into Liverpool.

      These could link up with the current lines through Chester.

      The connection at Lime Street for the Wirral onto Merseyrail is excellent and only about a walk of a hundred yards.

      Comment by AnonW | August 21, 2021 | Reply

  2. […] I showed in Could High Speed Two Serve Holyhead?, these four trains can be used to serve extra destinations by appropriate splitting and […]

    Pingback by How Many High Speed Two Trains Will Be Able To Terminate In Euston Station? « The Anonymous Widower | August 21, 2021 | Reply

  3. Well I didn’t know about Mr Ackroyd-Stuart and his engine, however in reading further I saw that he had sold out his business interests I think in 1919 to an American tractor company that in time became Caterpillar.
    So far as running a Bi-mode Classic- Compatible train from Euston to Holyhead, while I have some reservations for trains fitted with diesel engines running through the 10-mile Chiltern Tunnel but I suppose there will be mitigations to make this possible, after all HST spent over 30 years running through the 4.5 mile Severn Tunnel.
    One point I would make is that it’s not just a case of re-gearing the existing 140mph Hitachi 805s to run at line speeds of 200mph, you’ll also have to double the installed power to overcome the increased resistance to motion.

    Comment by fammorris | August 21, 2021 | Reply

    • The trains to Holyhead would be battery electric only!

      Comment by AnonW | August 21, 2021 | Reply


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