The Anonymous Widower

ECML Net Zero Traction Decarbonisation

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10036245

Project title: ECML Net Zero Traction Decarbonisation
Project grant: £59,983

Public description: Electrification is the foundation of all modern railways and fundamental to decarbonisation. Through
delivering faster, smoother, quieter and more reliable train services, rail electrification reduces
industry fuel cost by 45%, rolling stock costs by 33%, and track maintenance costs by 10-20%
(compared to diesel operation). Electric railways are the most efficient, lowest carbon form of
transportation in the UK.

Network Rail operates the largest power distribution network in the UK, and is the largest consumer
of electricity in the UK, consuming 4TWh electricity per year. Power is provided from the electricity
supply industry, a mix of gas, nuclear, coal and renewables, emitting approximately 944,000 tonnes
of carbon dioxide annually. Connecting new renewable generation directly to the railway reinforces
the railway power supply, while reducing coal and gas use in the UK and is a longstanding Network
Rail industry challenge statement. To date, engineering incompatibilities between renewable,
electricity supply systems and the railway single-phase electrical and other railway systems have
prevented local renewable connection in rail.

In a world first, Siemens Mobility, working with British Solar Renewables, DB Cargo UK, Network
Rail, ECML operators, and the University of York, will directly connect large-scale renewable
generation to the East Coast Mainline. The demonstrator phase will deliver up to 1GWh green
electricity direct to trains each year, reducing UK gas imports by 151,000 cubic metres and carbon
emissions by 236 tonnes annually. It will gather vital data creating a new green industry, creating a
precedent and setting standards to enable larger scale roll-out across the UK.

My Thoughts And Conclusion

This page on the Network Rail web site is entitled Power Supply Upgrade.

Since 2014, Network Rail and its partners have been upgrading the overhead electrification and the associated substations and electricity supply on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

  • It is not a small project which includes fifty new substations and 1,600 km. of new cabling between London and Edinburgh.
  • When complete, fleets of electric trains on the route will be receiving high-quality electric power from the upgraded overhead electrification.

However, the East Coast Main Line is unique among British electrified main lines, in that it runs more or less close to a coast, that is populated by a large number of massive wind farms.

I believe the objective of this project, is to more directly connect the massive wind farms to the East Coast Main Line.

Lessons learned could then be applied to other electrified main lines.

We may even see onshore wind farms or small modular nuclear reactors built to power the railways.

November 19, 2022 - Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] 10036245 – ECML Net Zero Traction Decarbonisation […]

    Pingback by First Of A Kind 2022 Winners Announced « The Anonymous Widower | November 20, 2022 | Reply

  2. I can’t see the logic of NR trying to connect intermittent renewables to its own network when it will still need a grid connection that will only add to the costs of running the railway. Also because its single phase it will need additional power conditioning equipment to convert solar DC power.
    What would be far more useful is to get all the diesel powered freight that runs up the ECML converted to electric traction. There was enough electric engines available but because the price of electricity went up for freight operators Freightliner for one parked up its class 86 fleet last year. The other farce is too many electric engines have been sold to Europe as we still straight economics get in the way of doing the right thing for the environment although given the half baked outcome from COP27 not sure we are going to make much differrence.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 20, 2022 | Reply

    • Full electrification of the ECML probably needs the GN-GE joint line through Lincoln to be electrified.

      A more affordable alternative could be a hydrogen-electric 66/68-sized locomotive, which could also handle Felixstowe and Nuneaton. Cummins, Rolls-Royce mtu and possibly Caterpillar already have hydrogen internal combustion engines and I’m sure there are at least one locomotive manufacturer, who could build a hydrogen-electric locomotive.

      Comment by AnonW | November 20, 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: