The Anonymous Widower

Is Liverpool Going To Get High Speed One-Point-Five?

Some of the best train journeys, I’ve ever had were not on high speed trains on specially-built tracks.

The connection between these stories, was that all had a superb biological control system in the cab, who with help from the signallers was able to keep to a difficult schedule or make up time.

Last year, I made several journeys between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street. A couple of the journeys were unusual in that we arrived at our destination around six or more minutes early.

I suspect, that Avanti West Coast were experimenting to make sure that they get the new two trains per hour (tph) for the route perfect.

In Avanti West Coast Looks To Recover, I said this about Euston and Liverpool Lime Street services.

A paragraph talks about the second hourly service between London and Liverpool.

Avanti still has ambitions to introduce a second hourly service between Euston and Liverpool, but when this will come in will depend on demand recovery.


  • If would be desirable if some or all trains running on the route could achieve a timing of two hours between London and Liverpool.
  • It is felt that the second service should stop at Liverpool South Parkway station, where the platforms are too short for eleven-car Class 390 trains.
  • Avanti have stated they would like more stops in the Trent Valley, especially at Nuneaton, where they would connect to services to the East Midlands.
  • Nuneaton is almost exactly halfway between London and Liverpool.
  • Running two tph with Class 807 trains would need nine trains and Avanti have only ordered ten in total.

I believe that a practical timetable like this could work.

  • Class 390 train – one tph – Non-stop or perhaps a single stop in the Midlands – Under two hours
  • Class 807 train – one tph – Stopping at Nuneaton, Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway – Current time or better

An hourly service between London and Liverpool in under two hours would surely be a passenger magnet.

So what is possible?

I found this service on Real Time Trains, which ran on the 16th February 2023.

  • Scheduled to leave Liverpool Lime Street at 0943, but left at 1012 or 29 minutes late.
  • Train did a ninety second unadvertised stop at Liverpool South Parkway. Now running 26 minutes late.
  • There was a two minute stop at Runcorn and a four-minute stop at Crewe. Now running 25 minutes late
  • There was a one-minute stop at Milton Keynes. Now running 20 minutes late.
  • The train arrived in London Euston at 1220 or 16 minutes late.


  1. Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston took 2 hours and 8 minutes.
  2. As Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston is a distance of 193.6, a 128 minute journey is an average speed of 90.7 mph
  3. Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe took 32 minutes with two stops.
  4. Crewe and London Euston took 1 hour and 32 minutes with one stop.
  5. In West Coast Main Line Electro-Diesels On Test, I found that a Glasgow and London train took 1 hour and 28 minutes between Crewe and London Euston.
  6. All services last week had the unadvertised stop at Liverpool South Parkway

What can be deduced from these figures?

  • If the Crewe stop were to be cut out, two hours and four minutes could certainly be possible between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston with a Class 390 train.
  • I also suspect that if the train were to be run non-stop, that the other four minutes could be saved.

So will Avanti West Coast run the current service using new Class 807 trains, with the extra stop at Liverpool South Parkway and perhaps other stations and the additional hourly train with a non-stop nine-car Class 390 train?

This way of delivering a two tph service would mean.

  • Runcorn, Crewe and Milton Keynes would not lose any of their current fast services to and from Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston.
  • Liverpool South Parkway station is probably a more convenient location for some passengers going to and from the South. It would gain an hourly service to London Euston.
  • There will be an additional 77% of seats between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston.
  • Passengers who don’t like tilting trains could use the Class 807 trains.
  • One tph would be timed for two hours or under and would be a marketing man’s dream.

No train would be slower than the current services.

Improvements To The Non-Stop Class 390 Train Service

I earlier said.

As Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston is a distance of 193.6, a 128 minute journey is an average speed of 90.7 mph.

An average speed of 90.7 mph, doesn’t seem fast for a Class 390 train with an operating speed of 125 mph or 140 mph under full ERTMS digital signalling.

These are some times for a selection of average speeds between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston.

  • 90 mph – 2 hours 9 minutes
  • 100 mph – 1 hour 56 minutes
  • 110 mph – 1 hour 46 minutes
  • 120 mph – 1 hour 37 minutes
  • 125 mph – 1 hour 33 minutes
  • 130 mph – 1 hour 29 minutes
  • 135 mph – 1 hour 26 minutes
  • 140 mph – 1 hour 23 minutes


  1. Average speeds of upwards of 130 mph are unlikely, but I’ve added them to show that the train speed is less important than the speed of the track.
  2. High Speed Two’s planned time between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston is 1 hour and 32 minutes.

But I do think times of around 1 hour and 35 minutes should be possible for non-stop Class 390 trains between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston with an improved track and full ERTMS digital signalling.

Improvements To The Stopping Class 807 Train Service

As the track of the West Coast Main Line is improved with better track and full ERTMS digital signalling, this will also benefit the times of the stopping service run by the new Class 807 trains.

The Class 807 train with its lighter weight will have better acceleration than the current Class 390 trains. This will mean, that they will not be slowed as much, when they stop.

It may be possible to add extra stops at places like Watford Junction, Nuneaton and Stafford and still time the train for a few minutes over two hours.

Avanti West Coast Looks To Recover, is a post, that I wrote based on an interview in Modern Railways with Phil Whittingham, who is MD of Avanti West Coast.

There is a lot of talk in the article about.

  • Using Nuneaton to connect the North West and the East Midlands.
  • The acceleration of the Class 807 trains.
  • Improving the Customer Service.

I think that Liverpool will find it is connected to more of the country on services with just a single change.


Liverpool is getting greater connectivity to the Midlands and the South-East of England, with times, that could be improved to be comparable with High Speed Two.

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


  1. What’s a class 705 train? Did you mean 807?

    Current timetable time for Liv-Eus seems to be 2hr 20mins, which I make a bit over 83mph, though that includes 3 stops. Cre-Eus, 157.64 miles, seems to be 1hr 40, which I make ca 95mph, and, as I said before, that’s the same whether Pendolino or Voyager.

    From Chester, which is 178.78 miles, direct Voyagers currently do this in 2hr 03mins, but that includes a 3-min stop in Crewe, with one further stop, so the actual journey is a bit under 2 hrs, say 89mph. So, to my surprise, the Ctr service seems to be a bit faster than Liv.

    According to OpenRailwayMap, the max speed for most of this track is 110mph, with sections well below this, such as round Stafford and the whole line into/from Liv (and for that matter Ctr) itself. So without major track works, I can’t see journey times improving much.

    It’s easy enough to increase speeds when you have to, but the key to timetables is reliability not setting records.

    Comment by Peter Robins | February 18, 2023 | Reply

    • also, I think it’s very unlikely there’ll be any improvements to this track any time soon, as HS2 removes the need. Through trains to/from Liv (and hopefully eventually Ctr) will use that.

      Comment by Peter Robins | February 18, 2023 | Reply

    • Thanks for that. I copied the section from an earlier post.

      I have thought for a few years that Network Rail have some new clever software, that designs tracks and gets the geometry spot on. This may explain, why tiling trains have gone out of fashion.

      It was brought home to me in that memorable run to Norwich and back behind a Class 90 locomotive, whilst sitting in a Mark 3 coach. My pocket dynamometer car was at 100 mph most of the way between Norwich and Chelmsford.

      These sort of improvements enabled Norwich-in-Ninety.

      Comment by AnonW | February 18, 2023 | Reply

      • ah well, you only need tilt if you’re winding your way through hilly terrain. And, as Noel Coward famously wrote: “Very flat, Norfolk.”

        AFAIK, the only non-HS track where there’s a commitment to 140mph running (which both Pendolinos and 80n are capable of) is ‘sections’ of ECML, specified in the Integrated Rail Plan. Of course, most of ECML is pretty flat and straight too, and mostly already capable of 125mph, unlike WCML.

        Comment by Peter Robins | February 19, 2023

  2. According to Wikipedia, the Selby Diversion is good for 160 mph.

    I think we underestimate the work done by British Rail in the 1970s to analyse the dynamics of steel wheel on steel rail. I remember that they were getting large number of 4-wheel freight wagon derailments and they solved the problem.

    British Rail Research had a PACE-231R analogue computer for solving differential equations, as I used at ICI.

    They were fabulous nachines and could solve a hundred simultaneous differential equations. I’ve tried to get a look to see what Rail Research were up to, but the National Railway Museum told me it was commercial confidential.

    I suspect, that Network Rail can run trains at well over 160 mph on the computer.

    Comment by AnonW | February 19, 2023 | Reply

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