The Anonymous Widower

Alstom’s Widnes Factory

I took these pictures as the train to Liverpool passed Alstom’s Widnes factory, soon after crossing the River Mersey.

There has still been few announcements lately on the progress of the Class 321 trains being converted to hydrogen-powered Class 600 trains.

Perhaps, they are too busy updating Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 trains.

October 15, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,


  1. Great to see photos of the site. OK they now refer to Widnes as Alstom Traincare, part of their Aftermarket business, but before Alstom took over Bombardier I used to wonder how Alstom back in 2017 could claim Widnes, given its size, could ever be considered as a new facility for building trains in the UK. Nevertheless Widnes is not so different in scale to CAF’s investment in Newport so I suppose you have to accept a bit of license in the way these places are described.
    It just makes me ponder on what Alstom might have to do in Derby to win the HS2 contracts with the Hitachi and Siemens investing such significant amounts in Newton Aycliffe and Goole .

    Comment by fammorris | October 15, 2021 | Reply

  2. We should note that there are two orders that need to be filled first.

    Avanti West Coast are looking for at least 54 High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains to be delivered from 2026.
    LNER are looking for ten bi-modes to augment their current fleet and have said, they would accept hydrogen or battery power.

    As Avanti West Coast have already ordered 13 Class 805 trains and 10 Class 807 trains, and LNER are a big user of Hitachi trains, I can see Hitachi offering two very similar designs to fulfil the Avanti and LNER orders

    I can see a design something like this.

    1. The number of carriages the customer wants. Hitachi have got that down to the last full stop.

    2. 160 mph operation under electrification, which can be raised to 225 mph.

    3. Battery operation, up to perhaps eighty miles at 100 mph

    4. Batteries will handle regenerative braking, thus simplifying the catenary and saving electricity.

    Hitachi ABB Power Grids would provide discontinuous electrification to destinations like Holyhead for Avanti and Aberdeen and Inverness for LNER.

    I also feel that with digital signalling and some track modifications, that large sections of the East Coast Main Line can be upgraded to a 160 mph High Speed Line.

    Comment by AnonW | October 15, 2021 | Reply

    • Thanks for reminding me about the other orders. Since 1948 and the establishment of BREL (and the odd involvement of the private sector), since BREL was dissolved and sold off previous governments have not espoused the policy of the monopoly. Frankly as much sense as your remarks about Hitachi go, I wouldn’t bet on them getting all of the available business. Avanti West Coast are already a user of Alstom rolling stock and the 54 trainsets that meet the procurement specification could equally be built by them.
      As for the East Coast line running at anything like 160mph in the next 20 years (National Rail’s projections only run to 2043), I’d say you’re being a tad optimistic.

      Comment by fammorris | October 15, 2021 | Reply

  3. I didn’t say that Hitachi would win the order, but that they would offer a very radical advanced train for both requirements., that will be a development of current trains being built for Avanti and East Midlands Railway.

    High Speed Two will be designed for running at 205 mph and will use slab track, which is better for high speed operation.

    The section of the East Coast Main Line to the South of Doncaster has been built very straight and as it is generally a four-track railway, I believe it could be upgraded to a railway capable of handling running at 160 mph. In places slab-track will be used and all the experience of high speed lines in the UK and around the world will be applied.

    It should also be noted, that the Selby Diversion was built for 160 mph in the 1970s. I would be interested to know what is the design speed for the rebuilt section of the Midland Main Line to the North of Kettering. It was 125 mph before the electrification, so is it 140 mph now or even higher.

    Network Rail have a long history of good track design and have constantly ratcheted up line speeds where they can.

    I also think, that politically, trains need to be running to the great cities of the North in under two hours. I believe that Liverpool will be possible with the new Class 807 trains. Manchester was done in two hours and eight minutes by an InterCity 225 and I suspect a Class 807 development could do Manchester in two hours. So that leaves Leeds, York and Hull. Surely, the best way is to speed up the ECML South of Doncaster.

    Comment by AnonW | October 15, 2021 | Reply

    • Wh

      Comment by fammorris | October 16, 2021 | Reply

  4. It seems we shouldn’t overlook plans to adapt the Class 321 to a battery-electric hybrid that was announced by Eversholt in July this year. This will involve Vivarail and the providers of the upgraded traction package, Kiepe.

    Comment by fammorris | August 16, 2022 | Reply

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