The Anonymous Widower

Porterbrook: Modified Trains Have A Role To Play

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine

Poterbrook are talking about reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The problem is that building a new electric train produces around 146 tonnes of CO2, whilst maintenance produces around 2-3 tonnes of CO2 annually.

  • CO2 produced in a 20 year lifetime in construction and maintenance is 196 tonnes or 9.8 tonnes per year.
  • CO2 produced in a 40 year lifetime in construction and maintenance is 246 tonnes or 6.15 tonnes per year.

So if you can prolong the useful life of a train by modifying the train at say twenty years, you could save carbon dioxide emissions.

Surely, this calculation must work for cars, earth-moving equipment and food-mixers.

The longer something lasts, the less will be the CO2 emissions per year.



April 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Varamis Plans Electric Freight To Carry Light Goods

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Issue 902 of Rail Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Freight trains using electric multiple units could be operating on the East Coast Main Line by the end of the year, in plans unveiled by Varamis Rail.

This is their promotional video.

From the video and the Rail Magazine article, the following can be ascertained.

The Route

From the video, the basic route is circular and the concept is explained in the article, by Phil Read; the Managing Director of Varamis Rail.

Our vision is to create a circular network around the UK via both the East Coast Main Line and West Coast Main Line, with a stop/go method of service delivery serving major towns and cities en route.

And we could move goods in both directions.

Longer term, there could be extensions to Bristol and South Wales and into East Anglia.


  1. From the video is looks like the main loop will start and finish in London.
  2. Trains on the main loop will call at Doncaster, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle, Manchester and Birmingham.
  3. Varamis have said they will stick to electrified lines.

I like the concept of the route.

  • It covers a lot of the country.
  • It can be easily extended.
  • Extra stops could be easily added. Darlington, Leeds, Peterborough, Preston and Reading come to mind.

With dual-voltage trains, it could even be extended South of London.

The Trains And The Organisation

Varamis are certainly looking to keep the operation efficient and low-cost. This is said about the trains.

The plan is to remove all the internal furnishings in the umits we lease utilise them without altering any of the loading or dynamic characteristics that the trains had when formerly used as passenger trains. I’m in discussions with rolling stock leasing companies and the DfT at present to lease the trains.

The DfT owns all 40 Class 365 trains.

In addition, the following is said.

  • Maintenance would be outsourced, with one of two likely companies.
  • Operations Director will be appointed soon.
  • Company headquarters would be in Doncaster.
  • Varamis will employ all their own staff, including drivers, fitters and logistics operators.

A small point is that Phil Read has worked for the Rail Operations Group.

Class 365 Trains

Class 365 trains have the following characteristics.

  • Four cars
  • Up to three trains can be coupled together.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Two pairs of wide double doors on the side of each car.
  • They are not a train with a reputation for unreliability.

This is a picture of a Class 365 train.


  1. They could probably be converted to dual-voltage, by adding third-rail gear.
  2. The trains could probably be made available at short-notice.

The company talks about an end-on cross-transfer system at their hubs, where goods can be moved through the train.

I will be interested to see what this means, but I suspect it will give a quick and easy transfer of pallets of goods between trains and the trucks doing the local delivery.

Green Logistics

Varamis are marketing their services as Green Logistics.


As someone, who needed this sort of system in the early days of Metier to distribute new copies of the Artemis software, I think the service will fulfil a large need.

I said earlier that I like the concept of the route.

But thinking about it more, I suspect it can be very easily extended.

  • Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton could be served by dual-voltage trains.
  • Could for instance a hub in Edinburgh, distribute pallets and parcels to and from the North of Scotland?
  • Could bi-mode trains serve the towns and cities on the Midland Main Line?
  • A connection to Heathrow would be very valuable.

A large proportion of the country could be connected.

If it existed now, would it help in the fight against COVID-19?


April 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Manchester Metrolink Opens Trafford Park Line

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The 5·5 km Manchester Metrolink light rail extension to the Trafford Centre shopping complex was opened for revenue service on March 22, around seven months ahead of the original target date.

I had hoped to go up to Manchester on the day it opened to take a few pictures, but COVID-19 kyboshed that!

April 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Short-Notice Spaghetti Trains Organised To get Pasta Across The Alps

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

DB Schenker has organised the transport of several hundred tonnes of pasta by rail from Italy to Germany, enabling 650 Aldi supermarkets to replenish supplies which had been depleted by customers stocking up during the coronavirus pandemic.

I can’t help feeling that this story pays homage to Richard Dimbleby‘s classic April Fool story about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland.

April 6, 2020 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Greater Anglia has opened four sidings able to stable 12-car trains just outside Norwich station, with its first train using the facility on March 3.

Other information can be found in this and other articles.

  • It was Greater Anglia’s biggest infrastructure investment to date.
  • The sidings are on the South side of the Trowse Swing Bridge, that crosses the River Wensum.
  • The project took nine months to complete.
  • The sidings look to be fully electrified.

I would assume that each siding can take one of the following.

  • A twelve-car Class 745 train, which are 236.6 metres long.
  • A ten-car Class 720 train, which are 240 metres long.
  • Two five-car Class 720 trains, which are 122 metres long.
  • More than one Class 755 trains, which are 65 metres long (3-car) and 81 metres long (4-car)

They will certainly be able to pack in the trains.


April 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Walking To Liverpool Street Station

I took these pictures yesterday, as I walked from my home to Liverpool Street station.

I had intended to buy the latest edition of Modern Railways at W H Smith’s in the station, but it was shut.

April 4, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

A New Stansted Express Train At Liverpool Street Station

I took these pictures yesterday of a new Stansted Express train at Liverpool Street station.

Note that it is numbered 106 on the front. The leading one indicates a Class 745/1 train or one for use on Stansted Express.

The Class 745 train data sheet is now on the Stadler web site, which gives a lot of interesting data.

For instance, it gives the train’s mean acceleration between 0 and 40 mph as 0.9 m/s².

This compares with the following.

The maximum acceleration for a Hitachi AT-300 train given on this page of their web site as 0.75 m/s².

The acceleration of a Class 345 train is given as up to 1 m/s².

Eversholt give the acceleration of a Class 321 Renatus as 0.6 ms².

It looks to me that Class 745 trains have a quick getaway, but not as quick as the Crossrail trains.

But they do appear to be faster off the mark than the Hitachi trains.


April 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

ETCS Tested Successfully On Heathrow Express Class 387s

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

Once the Class 387 trains can use ETCS on Heathrow Express between Paddington and Heathrow, this must surely allow them to work more intensively with Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which are also fitted with the same ETCS signalling.


April 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

An Interview With Sir Paul Nurse

The Times Saturday Interview is with Sir Paul Nurse and is entitled ‘Boris knows he’s out of his depth. Suddenly experts are useful again’.

It is a must-read and you may be able to read it on-line by registering with The Times, as that gives you a number of free articles.

It is people like Sir Paul, who will finally defeat COVID-19!


April 4, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Big London Hospital Was Close To Running Out Of Oxygen

The title of this post is the same as this article on  The Times.

With COVID-19 and all those ventilators and CPAP devices, this sounds like a tragedy about to unfold.

I also remembered a story told to me by a friend, who used to be the Chief Pharmacist at a London hospital.

Oxygen was one of their problems, as the tanks were in a small yard with gates opening on to a busy street, about two hundred metres, away from the hospital.

The problem was that illegal parkers would block the gates, so that delivery couldn’t be made.

Knowing my physics and the reliability of deliveries in parts of London, I thought on-site electrolysis might be a better idea. So I consulted my bible.

There on page 760, it is all described how water can be split into two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen by electrolysis.

ITM Power are the experts on electrolysis, so I sent them an e-mail and asked if they could make an electrolyser, that produced oxygen instead of hydrogen.

The reply came swiftly and confirmed, that they could make an electrolyser that supplied oxygen. They also said, that the oxygen was of a high purity.

Just Connect Electricity And Tap Water

All these electrolysers would need is supplies of electricity and tap water to create hydrogen and/or oxygen.

No trucks would be needed to deliver tonnes of liquid gases, which can be rather dangerous to move around city streets.

ITM Power’s hydrogen electrolysers are starting to appear in filling stations, so they can refuel hydrogen-powered vehicles.

One could be installed in a hospital to provide a continuous stream of pure oxygen, which could be piped into the current oxygen delivery system.

What To Do With The Hydrogen

The hydrogen electrolysers produce oxygen as a by-product, which I suspect is just vented to the atmosphere!

But you can’t vent large amounts of hydrogen to the atmosphere, as it is an inflammable gas!

However, you could do either of the following options.

  1. Connect it to a hydrogen fuel pump to refuel hydrogen vehicles.
  2. Inject the hydrogen into the gas main, as is regularly done with hydrogen produced by surplus renewable electricity.

I prefer the first option, as it could mean that health-care could start to use hydrogen-powered ambulances, that are zero carbon and pollution-free.

Perhaps not an appropriate saying for the industry, but it would genuinely kill two birds with one stone.




April 3, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments