The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On CAF’s Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains

I first wrote about CAF’s battery-electric trains in Northern’s Battery Plans, where I describe how CAF and Northern are planning to convert a number of three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • The fourth car would contain batteries.
  • Batteries would also be added to the PTS (pantograph) car.

I suspect that the battery range could be arranged so that all Northern’s routes suitable for battery-electric operation could be handled.

These are my thoughts.

How Much Would The Conversion Cost?

I will first make rough estimate of what the extra car would cost.

Northern placed a £500 million order for the following trains.

  • 31 x three-car Class 331 trains
  • 12 x four-car Class 331 trains
  • 25 x two-car Class 195 trains
  • 33 x three-car Class 195 trains

This is a total of 290 trains.

So on a rough estimate, each car will cost around £1.72 million.

As batteries would also be added to the pantograph car, the cost of updating a three-car train to a four-car battery-electric train would probably be around two million.

Why Are CAF Proposing A Four-Car Train With Two Battery Cars?

When I first read about CAF’s and Northern’s plans, I wondered, why CAF were also putting batteries in the pantograph car, as surely, with their extensive experience with battery-powered trains, CAF could fit enough batteries into one battery-car for a reasonable range, as Bombardier did seven years ago.

Having done all the calculations around Wigan and Bolton in Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced, I suspect that CAF and Northern want a trans-Pennine range, so they can compete with TransPennine Express.

Two cars with batteries is probably needed for that.

Could The Three-Car Trains Be Converted To Three-Car Battery-Electric Trains?

But there is a collateral benefit of putting batteries in the pantograph car.

I suspect that in a four-car Class 331 trains have a trans-Pennine range, which between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations is 50.2 miles and between Carlisle and Newcastle stations is 61.5 miles. So let’s say that the four-car Class 331 train with two battery packs has a range of 70 miles.

So what would be the range of a three-car train with one battery pack.

One battery pack would only take a four-car train 35 miles, so a single battery pack would contain 140 car-miles of electricity.

If a single-battery were to be fitted to the pantograph car of a three-car train, 140 car-miles would give a range of 46.7 miles.

My conclusion about the Bolton and Wigan electrification  in Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced, was as follows.

This electrification of just 6.5 miles of double-track between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station seems to be one of the smaller electrification projects.

But on closer examination, when linked to a fleet of battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles, the electrification enables battery-electric trains to run these services.

  • Southport And Alderley Edge
  • Southport And Stalybridge
  • Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

With a charging station in Blackburn station, then the Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn service can be added.

All these four services could be run by three-car battery-electric Class 331 trains. And if the services are to be run by six-car trains, a pair can be coupled up.

What Would Be The Range Of A Four-Car Battery-Electric Train With Only One Battery?

If I’m right that a four-car battery-electric Class with two batteries has a range of seventy miles across the Pennines, then a train with one battery should be able to manage 35 miles.


It sounds like the Spanish might have come up with a cunning plan, that might be able to convert both three- and four-car Class 331 trains to battery-electric operation.

By adding a battery to the pantograph car, this enables a four-car battery-electric train with a trans-Pennine range.

Summing up the various options gives the following ranges.

  • Three-car battery-electric train with one battery pack – 46.7 miles
  • Four-car battery-electric train with one battery pack – 35 miles
  • Four-car battery-electric train with two battery packs – 70 miles

I’m impressed.


September 3, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Plenty of routes where battery power would help. The most obvious is Oxenholme to Windemere, but also Blackpool South, Southport, Barrow etc. Some of these are short and / or flat, so just one battery car would do, particularly if recharging were available at the terminus. Others e.g. Barrow IMO, would required two or hybrid operation.

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | September 3, 2021 | Reply

    • I can see a big order for battery trains before COP26

      Comment by AnonW | September 3, 2021 | Reply

  2. Northern shouldn’t be trying to compete with TPE. As you suggest they should be maximising the amount of there routes they can remove diesels from. The network may need a level of reconfiguration to take advantage of these technologies and GBR should have that as a key policy it how designs the network for a diesel free future.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | September 3, 2021 | Reply

    • There are some trans-Pennine routes like Carlisle and Newcastle, Leeds and Chester and York and Blackpool where Northern already competes with TransPennine Express now and has the direct route. The distinction between the two set of routes is rather arbitary. I feel that by the application of short sections of electrification, that battery-electric trains can cover much of the combined Northern/TransPennine area. As my Bolton-Wigan example showed, that allows twenty-four stations to received electric services, at a cost of around three million a station. Network Rail must be looking for other similar places. I suspect that the Leeds and Huddersfield upgrade and electrification opens up a lot more stations to electric services.

      Comment by AnonW | September 3, 2021 | Reply

  3. […] Thoughts On CAF’s Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains, I concluded CAF’s approach could give the following […]

    Pingback by Electrification Between Clay Cross North Junction And Sheffield Station « The Anonymous Widower | September 5, 2021 | Reply

  4. […] Thoughts On CAF’s Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains, I estimated the range of these trains and reckoned that they would be between 35 and 70 […]

    Pingback by Could Class 777 Trains Create A Metro Centred On Preston? « The Anonymous Widower | January 18, 2023 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: