The Anonymous Widower

Battery Train And Fast Charger To Be Tested In London

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has signed an agreement to test Vivarail’s Class 230 battery multiple-unit and fast charging technology under real-world conditions on the 4 km non-electrified branch between West Ealing and Greenford in West London.

As an engineer, who started designing control systems for rolling mills in the mid-1960s and went on to get a Degree in Control and Electrical Engineering from Liverpool University, before working for ICI applying computers to a variety of problems, I can’t look at a railway line like the Greenford Branch without wanting to automate it.

I had one amateurish attempt in An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line. I was trying to get four trains per hour (tph) on the branch and I don’t think that is possible, with the Class 230 trains.

Now we know the train we are dealing with, I could plan an automated system, that would drive the train.

  • Each journey on the branch takes around 11-12 minutes.
  • Two tph would take between 44 and 48 minutes shuttling between the two stations in an hour.
  • The article states that recharging takes ten minutes.
  • If the train charged the batteries once per hour, that would leave between two and six minutes for the other three stops.
  • Any freight train using the branch seems to take about six minutes, so they could sneak through, when the shuttle is having a fast charge.
  • I would also use a similar system to that originally used on the Victoria Line. After the driver has closed the doors and ascertained that there were no problems, they would press a button to move the train to the next station and then automatically open the doors.

From this rough calculation to run a two tph service, I suspect that the train needs to be able to go between West Ealing and Greenford stations in ten minutes. Assuming one ten minute Fast Charge per hour, this would give three minutes and twenty seconds to turn the train, at the three terminal station stops.

I certainly feel, that an automatic shuttle would be possible.

February 16, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. This could also be tried on the Slough – Windsor branch line. However, the turnaround at Slough is quite short to maintain the 20 minute cycle. I understand that the refurbished tri-mode 319’s (769’s I think) are due start on this line in due course. The acceleration on these is allegedly greater than the 165/6’s currently in use on the branch. This could mean longer turnaround times despite the speed restrictions at the Slough end. Given this line was upgraded to majority continuous welded a few years ago, I’m sure it would be possible to review the speed limit for the majority of the route.
    Moving to a 4 car service from the current 2/3 car would be beneficial for the few journeys that do get well loaded during the peaks.
    If the 230’s had good acceleration, it would be more economical to use these on this route. Otherwise I suspect the timetable would have to revert to a 30 min frequency which is generally more than adequate off peak.

    Comment by Andrew Bruton | February 16, 2022 | Reply

  2. I don’t see why there needs to be a formal timetable on some of these routes. I also think, that the driver doesn’t need to change ends , if they have the right automation and video screens. Crossrail are using auto-reverse at Paddington to speed things up, so are setting a precedent. It could be very much like the DLR, with the operator on board and only one train on the line.

    Comment by AnonW | February 17, 2022 | 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: