The Anonymous Widower

My Current Thoughts On Electric Trains To Windermere

These are my current thoughts on electric trains to Windermere station.

Passengers And Battery-Electric Trains

I don’t think any reputable journalist interviewed passengers on either of the two battery electric services that have successfully run for longer than a couple of days.

Those that used British Rail’s Aberdeen and Ballater service in the 1950s, are probably thin on the ground, although I did meet an elderly lady, who’d regularly used it to go to school and she said the service was reliable.

She also said that the Queen Mother was an enthusiastic passenger.

I rode the Manningtree and Harwich battery electric train during its short trial.

But more significantly, since then I have met two passengers, who used it every day during the trial to commute.

Both would like to see the train return, as it seemed more reliable. I wonder, if like much of East Anglia’s overhead wires, the route suffers from the wind.

It does appear that providing a reliable service with battery electric trains is not a difficult problem.

Two Trains Per Hour To Windermere

In Passing Loop Hope For Windermere, I discuss a passing loop on the Windermere Branch Line to enable two trains per hour (tph) along the line.

The Treasury wouldn’t like this, as it would need twice the number of trains.

But hopefully, it would double the ticket revenue.

Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains

It has been some time now since in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, that it was announced that CAF announced they were building a battery-electric version of the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

Little has been heard of CAF’s progress since, although I did write Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, which was based on an article in the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Northern Looks To The Future.

Lack Of Progress On Battery And Hydrogen Train Projects

Is this typical of battery and hydrogen projects?

Southern’s project on the Uckfield Branch and to close the electrification gap between Ashford and Hastings has only been conspicuous by its absence. This project is important as it releases the Class 170 trains, so that EMR can fulfil franchise commitments.

The project to use hydrogen trains on Teesside has also progressed at a snail’s pace.

It is almost as if someone in the Department of Transport or more likely the Treasury, feels that the best thing to do is to carry on using diesel, as it’s the cheapest alternative.

I don’t think it is any politician, as their public statements seem to be very much in favour of decarbonisation.

Other Electric Trains In The Lake District

I also think, that if battery-electric trains were to be run to Windermere, that they would also run to Barrow-in-Furness. Am I right in thinking that the Furness Line is rather flat, so would be ideal for battery-electric trains?

But I do wonder, if Sellafield and Direct Rail Services are pushing for electrification, as it would surely help their operations, as they could use Class 88 locomotives to bring in the flasks for processing.

Also in Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, I did say this.

I feel it would be possible to electrify the Cumbrian Coast Line using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Surely, a battery-electric train along the Cumbrian Coast by the Lake District would be the ideal train for the area.

I can certainly see a small fleet of battery-electric working services between Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Carnforth, Manchester Airport, Sellafield, Whitehaven, Windermere and Workington.

November 30, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. I’ve just been re-reading https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1009448/decarbonising-transport-a-better-greener-britain.pdf which specifies only that there is an “Ambition for all diesel-only trains to be removed from the network by 2040”- which is not a very ambitious ambition. Contrast this with Scotland, which now has what to my mind is a very plausible strategy for decarbonised trains by 2035. The DfT plan says that “Great British Railways will deliver a programme of further electrification, together with use of battery and hydrogen trains”, which implies that we have to wait for GBR to be up and running, and to come up with a plan for England and Wales – which could well be a year or more.

    AFAIK, the only electrification for the current CP6 to 2024 are MML to Mkt Harborough, Church Fenton-Colton Jcn, and now Bolton-Wigan. With the IPR there’s now a commitment to the rest of MML and TPU by early 2030s.

    There have been numerous trials in other countries of battery/hydrogen trains, none of which have found any serious problems. So there are now large numbers of such trains on order in those countries, which should be entering service over the next few years. GB is falling further and further behind, and there doesn’t seem to be any urgency other than in devolved Scotland.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 30, 2021 | Reply

    • I agree far more steam engines were replaced by British Rail 1955-68 in only 13 years than diesel trains that needs to be converted to hybrid by installing batteries in 19 years 2021-2040.

      Comment by jason leahy | December 3, 2021 | Reply

      • Conversions like the Class 769 trains seem to very slow I wonder, if there’s a shortage of suitably-trained staff!

        Comment by AnonW | December 3, 2021

      • The Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce stated in 2019: “there are, or shortly will be, about 3,000-3,300 diesel passenger vehicles that will need to be replaced, re-engined or converted, to decarbonise the railway.” NR’s report recommended 11,700 track km of electrification, but according to the latest ORR report, for 2020-1, 179 (MML to Corby) were completed. At that rate, I make it 66 years before that electrification is complete – so around 2090. Batteries OTOH can be installed much more quickly.

        NR were supposed to be coming up with their final report giving priorities by end 2020. There’s no sign of it, so I assume this task will fall to GBR. I see that this is now scheduled to be in operation in 2023, so if we have to wait for them to come up with a strategy and list of priorities, 2025 seems like the earliest there’ll be any action.

        I see that the Scots have now decided to postpone double-tracking of E Kilbride in favour of bringing forward electrification of the Borders line. That has of course infuriated the E Kilbride folk, but it does mean they’re giving serious thought to their priorities.

        Comment by Peter Robins | December 4, 2021

  2. What a shame there is not a rolling electrification scheme at present. Given a big enough battery there is no reason why range should not be further than envisaged. After all rolling resistance is low. Check out Machinist Stefan’s channel on YT where he ran for 20 Km with power off! Rapid charging should be the order of the day. In Vienna buses charge up off the overhead tram wires at the start of their day. This takes 15 minutes and gives a range of up to 150 km. So, definitely promising.

    Comment by Chris Noble | November 30, 2021 | Reply

  3. Perhaps the technology is considereed too risky, as a single track is not capable of sending a rescue Loco in case of trouble. In the short term, a Santa Steam train service would raise enought money and increase interest in using the line. Santa Specials in Norfolk are sold out, so the under used Steam engines based at Carnforth could earn their keep. Known technology, little damage to the environment, whats not to like?

    Comment by jagracer | November 30, 2021 | Reply

  4. The 331s are part of CAF’s Civity range. https://www.caf.net/en/productos-servicios/familia/civity/modularidad.php states “Civity trains with all types of traction can be equipped with batteries”. 2 operators in Nordrhein Westfalen ordered 60+ Civity BEMUs earlier this year https://www.urban-transport-magazine.com/en/vrr-and-nwl-order-over-60-battery-multiple-units-from-caf/

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 30, 2021 | Reply

  5. Carnforth to Barrow is rather flat as is Barrow – Sellafield – Whitehaven – Workington – Carlisle.

    Comment by chilterntrev | November 30, 2021 | Reply

    • Thanks!

      Comment by AnonW | November 30, 2021 | Reply

  6. Dept of Transport appears to be all talk currently. Big statements but no hard timelines and suggests they are tight for cash as i suspect they are having to use capital allocation to keep TOCs bailed out as forecast was 75-80% traffic return but plateaued at 60%. Even worse is drop in season ticket income which could still be over 50%.

    That said Windermere is an ideal route for BEMU’s especially if they run it as a through route under the wires.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 30, 2021 | Reply

  7. The line was originally dual until the early seventies. This probably means passing loop(s) could be [re-]constructed with major civil engineering works.

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | December 1, 2021 | Reply

    • I also think with a bit of guile, they might be able to run two trains per hour, with the passing loop formed by double track at Oxenholme.

      Especially, if the trains could run faster.

      Comment by AnonW | December 1, 2021 | Reply

      • https://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/cumbria/17474699.passing-loop-call-lakes-line-backed/

        The Lakes Line User Group, http://www.llrug.co.uk/, and others, have been calling for a train every 30 minutes for a few years.

        From the above article ” Mr Talbot said the loop would ideally be situated between Burneside and Staveley stations, approximately halfway down the 10 mile Oxenholme to Windermere line.

        He explained that as the line was previously double track, land was available for the loop and he added that community groups in the area unanimously backed the plan. “

        Comment by chilterntrev | December 1, 2021


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