The Anonymous Widower

Could Class 777 Trains Create A Metro Centred On Preston?

Preston station is a major station on the West Coast Main Line, that will be served by High Speed Two.

  • Electric long distance services to and from Birmingham, Carlisle, Liverpool, London Euston, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow serve the station.
  • Electric and diesel local services fan out from the station to Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Colne, Liverpool, Manchester and Ormskirk.
  • Other local services could be developed.

Could the local services be turned into a zero-carbon Metro centred on Preston station, that would possibly use a version of Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains?

The Routes

These routes could be part of the Metro.

Preston And Barrow-in-Furness

Consider.

  • This route is 55.8 miles long.
  • The service calls at Lancaster, Carnforth, Silverdale, Arnside, Grange-over-Sands, Kents Bank, Cark, Ulverston, Dalton and Roose
  • The route is electrified between Preston and Carnforth.
  • 28.1 miles of the route are without electrification.

Northern use Class 195 diesel trains on this route.

Preston And Blackpool North

Consider.

  • This route is 17.5 miles long.
  • The service calls at Kirkham & Wesham, Poulton-le-Fylde and Layton
  • The route is fully-electrified.

Northern use Class 195, 319 and 331 trains on this route.

Preston And Blackpool South

Consider.

  • This route is 19.9 miles long.
  • The service calls at Salwick, Kirkham & Wesham, Moss Side, Lytham, Ansdell & Fairhaven, St Annes-on-the-Sea, Squires Gate and Blackpool Pleasure Beach
  • The route is electrified between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham
  • 12.1 miles of the route are without electrification.

Northern use diesel trains on this route.

Preston And Colne

Consider.

  • This route is 29.1 miles long.
  • The service calls at Lostock Hall, Bamber Bridge, Pleasington, Cherry Tree, Mill Hill, Blackburn, Rishton, Church & Oswaldtwistle, Accrington, Huncoat, Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley Barracks, Burnley Central, Brierfield and Nelson.
  • Colne is 165 metres above sea level.
  • The route is not electrified.

Northern use diesel trains on this route.

This route could also be extended to Skipton in Yorkshire, which is something that was promised by Government a few years ago.

The extension to Skipton could be another 15 miles.

Preston And Fleetwood

Consider.

  • This route is 20.9 miles long.
  • The service could call at Salwick, Kirkham & Wesham and Poulton-le-Fylde
  • The route is electrified between Preston and Poulton-le-Fylde
  • This route would need to be reinstated.

6.6 miles of the route are without electrification.

Preston And Liverpool Lime Street via St. Helens

Consider.

  • This route is 35.2 miles long.
  • The service calls at Huyton, St Helens Central, Wigan North Western, Euxton Balshaw Lane and Leyland
  • The route is fully-electrified.

Northern use Class 319 and 331 trains on this route.

Preston And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • This route is 35.2 miles long.
  • The service calls at Heald Green, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Crescent, Bolton, Lostock, Horwich Parkway, Blackrod, Adlington (1tph), Chorley, Buckshaw Parkway and Leyland
  • The route is fully-electrified.

Northern use Class 195 and 331 trains on this route.

Preston And Ormskirk

Consider.

  • This route is 15.3 miles long.
  • The service calls at Burscough Junction, Rufford and Croston.
  • The route is not electrified.

Merseyrail have their eyes on this route.

Preston And Windermere

Consider.

  • This route is 50.3 miles long.
  • The service calls at Lancaster, Carnforth, Oxenholme Lake District, Kendal, Burneside and Staveley
  • The route is electrified between Preston and Oxenholme Lake District.
  • 10.2 miles of the route are without electrification.

Northern use Class 195 diesel trains on this route.

Class 777 Trains

Consider.

  • According to Stadler’s specification for the Class 777 IPEMU, the battery-equipped Class 777 trains have a range of 55 km or 34.2 miles.
  • But, according to New Merseyrail Train Runs 135km On Battery, these trains have done 135 km or 83.9 miles.
  • As there is no third-rail electrification at Preston, but lots of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, the version of the Class 777 train for 25 KVAC overhead will need to be used.
  • There is no way that any third-rail electrification can be installed.

One comment to my post; The Stadler Data Sheet For A Class 777 IPEMU, suggests that batteries can’t be used with the 25 KVAC variant of the Class 777 due to lack of space.

I will use a starting point for the Class 777 IPEMU, that can access 25 KVAC has a range of 40 miles, which is just under half of the demonstrated maximum range of the current trains.

Class 331 Trains With Batteries

CAF have proposed a battery-electric version of their Class 331 train.

The closely-related Class 195 diesel trains and Class 331 trains already work some of the routes through Preston.

In 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 miles.

The South Wales Valley Lines Solution

In The Greening Of The Valleys, I describe how the South Wales Metro will use a mix of trains.

  • Stadler Citylink tram-trains for local routes.
  • Stadler FLIRTs for routes on the main lines.

So could a Metro centred on Preston be based on the same principle?

I’ll look at each line in order.

Preston And Barrow-in-Furness

Consider.

  • This route is 55.8 miles long.
  • 28.1 miles of the route are without electrification.
  • Northern use Class 195 diesel trains on this route.

A Class 331 with a battery range of sixty miles could work this route, charging the batteries between Preston and Carnforth.

Preston And Blackpool North

Any train that could use 25 KVAC electrification could use this route.

Preston And Blackpool South

Consider.

  • This route is 19.9 miles long.
  • 12.1 miles of the route are without electrification.
  • Northern use diesel trains on this route.

A Class 777 with a battery range of 24.2 miles could work this route, charging the batteries between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham.

Preston And Colne

Consider.

  • This route is 29.1 miles long.
  • Colne is 165 metres above sea level.
  • The route is not electrified.
  • Northern use diesel trains on this route.

A Class 777 with a battery range of 30 miles could work this route, charging the batteries at Preston and Colne.

It might be prudent to electrify the single track line between Gannow Junction and Colne, so that trains have enough power to climb the hill to Colne and reach Colne with a full battery.

The extension to Skipton would require a range of 30 miles or just fifteen miles, if the 25 KVAC at Skipton was used to recharge the trains.

Preston And Fleetwood

Consider.

  • This route is 20.9 miles long.
  • 6.6 miles of the route are without electrification.

A Class 777 with a battery range of 13.2 miles could work this route, charging the batteries between Preston and Poulton-le-Fylde.

Preston And Liverpool Lime Street via St. Helens

Any train that could use 25 KVAC electrification could use this route.

Preston And Manchester Airport

Any train that could use 25 KVAC electrification could use this route.

Preston And Ormskirk

Consider.

  • This route is 15.3 miles long.
  • The route is not electrified.

A Class 777 with a battery range of 30.6 miles could work this route.

Trains would charge on their home network.

Preston And Windermere

Consider.

  • This route is 50.3 miles long.
  • 10.2 miles of the route are without electrification.
  • Northern use Class 195 diesel trains on this route.

A Class 331 with a battery range of 20.4 miles could work this route, charging the batteries between Preston and Oxenholme Lake District.

Electrification Between Preston and Skipton Via Colne

Earlier when discussing the service to Colne and Slopton, I said this.

It might be prudent to electrify the single track line between Gannow Junction and Colne.

But surely, as this would mean, that virtually the whole route between The West Coast Main Line at Preston and the East Coast Main Line would be electrified, it would be sensible to electrify between Preston and Gannow Junction.

If this electrification were to be made continuous, this would mean the following.

  • There would be a fully-electrified line between Blackpool and Leeds, which could be worked by Class 331 trains.
  • There could be a valuable diversion route to help, whilst the main transPennine routes were upgraded.
  • Class 777 trains with batteries would only be needed on the Blackpool South and Fleetwood routes from Preston.

The battery range needed would be just 24.2 miles to handle the longer Blackpool South route.

January 18, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. I live less than 10 minutes away from the turn off to Manchester airport – on a good ay! On a bad day the motorway is blocked solid in both directions. Anything that brough more people into the airport by train would be welcomed by local residents!

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | January 19, 2023 | Reply

  2. Apologies for spelling mistakes – having a generally brain addled day!

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | January 19, 2023 | Reply

  3. TfW is wanting Merseyrail to provide a Liverpool to Wrexham service. 777 are owned by Liverpool City Region. They should move the interchange from Bidston to Heswall. Then Heswall and Upton, both in the LCR, will have direct Liverpool services. Then west Birkenhead and west Wirral are well served. Upton station will be then well used then.

    The Borderlands Line is mainly in Wales with most stations in Wales. LCR money should not be used to provide a metro for TfW.

    Comment by John | February 1, 2023 | Reply

  4. From the reports on the 777s and my experience of Stadler’s trains in East Anglia and Europe, I feel that the 777s may be ideal for large parts of the UK. TfW, Northern and others have bought large numbers of inappropriate diesel trains, that will be difficult to decarbonise.

    Newcastle is using their own version of the 777 on the Metro and I suspect Stadler will provide the replacement trams for Sheffield. As Manchester have a very odd set of trams made by Bombardier, I suspect that Stadler could provide a version of the 777 in Manchester.

    The Swiss company is on a roll.

    Comment by AnonW | February 1, 2023 | Reply

    • The 777 was a collaboration between Merseytravel and Stadler. The batteries were specified by Merseytravel to extend its metro onto unelectrified track, or rebuild short lengths of lifted track, getting the metro extended inside Liverpool quickly. Stadler setup their UK HQ in Liverpool.

      Newcastle paid lots of attention to Merseyrail in the formation of the 777. The reduced length of cars and light weight, is also ideal for them.

      The 777s will be a great addition to many parts of the UK. 777s around Manchester streets? Please.

      Comment by John | February 1, 2023 | Reply


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