The Anonymous Widower

Should There Be Five-Car High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Trains?

The High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Trains have the following characteristics.

  • Eight cars.
  • 200 metres long.
  • 550 passengers.
  • Two can be coupled together to make a 16-car train, that is 400 metres long.
  • Trains can join and split en route.

This graphic shows the preliminary schedule.

Note that Train 4, starts as a pair of trains, before splitting at Crewe, with one train going to Lancaster and the other to Liverpool Lime Street.

I wonder, if some trains were to be five-cars, would this give the operator more flexibility, by allowing three trains to be coupled together to serve three destinations.

This could be a simple example.

  • A three train formation could leave Euston.
  • At Crewe one train would detach and go to Liverpool Lime Street, with stops at Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway.
  • At Preston, the two remaining trains would split, with one train going to Lancaster and the other going to Blackpool with appropriate stops.

Three trains might give the operators more flexibility in providing appropriate capacity to various destinations.

Other Applications

I believe these trains would have other applications.

These are a few thoughts.

Battery-Electric High Speed Train

Battery technology is improving and I believe that a train could be designed with the following specification.

  • Five cars
  • High-Speed Two Classic-Compatible performance.
  • A battery pack in each car.
  • Up to maximum operating speed of digitally-signalled high speed lines.
  • 140 mph on digitally-signalled classic high speed lines, like the East and West Coast Main Lines. the Midland Main Line and the Great Western Railway.
  • Range on battery of around 120 miles at 100 mph.
  • Ability to work with fully-electric versions.


  1. I suspect that like current Hitachi AT-300s and Bombardier Aventras, the onboard computer would know what cars have been coupled together and what the train can do.
  2. A battery in each car would distribute the extra weight of the batteries equally and not affect the handling too much.
  3. These trains would allow High Speed Two services to be extended onto non-electrified lines.

I suspect that an eight car battery-electric High-Speed Two Classic-Compatible train would also be possible for working with the standard length trains.

March 12, 2023 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Middlesbrough By LNER

Today, I took the new LNER service to Middlesbrough.

It left at 15:25 and should have arrived in just under three hours. But it was eighteen minutes late.

I took these pictures of our arrival in Middlesbrough.


  1. The train wasn’t full at Middlesbrough.
  2. Quite a few passengers left and joined at York.
  3. There were also a good number of leavers at Thornaby.
  4. The train was five cars.

As it is only the third day of the new service, passenger numbers seem to me to be on-line with what I’ve seen for other new services.

I have a few thoughts.

Is A London and Middlesbrough Service Needed?

In the 1970s, when I worked at ICI, I would regularly travel to Middlesbrough from London for a day’s work at their Wilton site.

In those days there was no direct train and you had to change at Darlington.

Since then I’ve also travelled to Middlesbrough to see football matches and visit the local countryside.

I suspect I’ve done well over fifty trips between the town and London, but today’s trip was my first one that was direct.

Will More Services Be Added?

If you look at LNER’s service patterns to Harrogate and Lincoln, they started with a single service and have quietly grown to between five and seven trains per day (tpd) in both directions.

I suspect that an early and a late train are essential to allow a full day in London or Middlesbrough.

Could This Route Be Run By A Nine-Car Train?

I suspect normally, a five-car train would be sufficient, but suppose one of the big London football clubs was playing Middlesbrough in an FA Cup quarter final, LNER might like to add capacity for the match.

King’s Cross and York stations regularly handle nine-car Azuma trains and from my pictures, it looks like Middlesbrough can too! The only other stop is Thornaby station, which is shown in this Google Map.

I suspect that it might just be possible, if Thornaby passengers were told to get in the first six cars.

Could This Route Be Run By A Battery-Electric Train?


  • The trains run on diesel power North of Longlands junction, where they leave and join the East Coast Main Line.
  • It is a distance of only 22.2 miles.

With some form of charging at Middlesbrough, I think that within a few years, this could be an all-electric service.

It would be very handy for Hitachi, as any possible customers for battery-electric trains could be given a demo to or from London.

I Think The Stop At York Is A Good Idea

It could be argued that LNER’s King’s Cross and Middlesbrough service is two services in one.

  • A direct service between London King’s Cross and Thornaby and Middlesbrough.
  • A fast non-stop service between London King’s Cross and York, that takes several minutes under two hours.

Hence my view, that the York stop is a good idea.

Could The Middlesbrough Service Split And Join With Another Service At York?

The Middlesbrough service takes five minutes for the stop at York, but other services only take three minutes.

Has the longer stop been inserted into the timetable, so that the Middlesbrough timetable can be split to serve two separate destinations?

  • Secondary destinations would have to be North of York or York station itself.
  • These could include Bishops Auckland, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Scarborough and Sunderland.
  • Given the arguments, there have been over the new timetable not calling at smaller stations, could these be served by a train to Newcastle?

There are quite a few sensible possibilities.

An alternative could be to split and join at Thornaby to serve both Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

December 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Grand Central Going To Order Some Hitachi Intercity Battery Hybrid Trains?

I ask this question because I’ve just looked at the Hitachi infographic for the Hitachi Intercity Battery Hybrid Train, that I wrote about in Hitachi Rail And Angel Trains To Create Intercity Battery Hybrid Train On TransPennine Express

Note that in the background of the image Hitachi Grand Central can be seen.

Looking at Grand Central‘s routes I can say the following.

  • The Sunderland service uses the fully-electrified East Coast Main Line to the South of Northallerton.
  • The Bradford service uses the East Coast Main Line to the South of Shaftholme Junction.
  • The Sunderland service runs for 47.4 miles on lines without electrification.
  • The Bradford service runs for 47.8 miles on lines without electrification.
  • The trains run at 125 mph on East Coast Main Line.
  • Each service has around half-a-dozen stops, most of which are on lines without electrification.

Grand Central run the services using Class 180 diesel trains.

I think there are two possibilities for new trains.

Hitachi Intercity Battery Hybrid Train

This train would be similar to the Hitachi Intercity Battery Hybrid Train shown in the infographic.

  • It would be designed to run efficiently on diesel.
  • The train could run at 140 mph on electricity and with a signalling update.
  • The claimed extra performance could speed up the services.
  • Batteries would be used in stations.

There would be a worthwhile saving in fuel and less carbon emissions.

Hitachi Intercity Battery Hybrid Train With A Larger Battery

This would be similar to the standard train, but with a larger battery.

  • Battery range would be sufficient to cover the lines without electrification.
  • Charging would need to be installed at Bradford Interchange and Sunderland stations.
  • The other two diesel engines might be replaced with batteries.
  • No diesel would be used.
  • The train could run at 140 mph on electricity and with a signalling update.
  • The claimed extra performance could speed up the services.
  • Batteries would be used in stations.

There would be no fuel costs and zero emissions.

In Grand Central Opts For Split And Join, I wrote about Grand Central’s application to run more services that had been reported in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways in an article that is entitled Grand Central Applies For Extra Services.

If Grand Central are still interested in expanding and splitting and joining, then the Hitachi trains, which have a proven ability in this area would fit the requirement.


November 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Would A North-East And South West Sleeper Service Be A Good Idea?

I ask this question as in the October 2021, there is an article entitled A New Sleeper, which has this explanatory sub-title.

Des Bradley describes his concept for a North-East to South-West Overnight Service

Paraphrasing his resume from the article, Des Bradley is probably best described as a rail enthusiast, who has travelled all over Europe by train, especially on sleeper trains. He has also worked recently with ScotRail, where he led their integrated travel activities.

I regularly use the Caledonian Sleeper on my trips to Scotland,  often taking a sleeper one way and a day time train the other. Towards the end of next month, I have tickets booked for a low-cost Lumo train to Edinburgh and a sleeper back to London in the evening.

In this blog, I have regularly written about the sleeper trains being introduced across Europe and this summer I had intended to go via Eurostar and NightJet to Vienna. But the pandemic has kept me in England for two years.

An Edinburgh And Plymouth Sleeper

Des Bradley is proposing a sleeper train between Edinburgh and Plymouth.

  • A typical daytime trip on this route takes eight hours and forty-five minutes.
  • Intermediate stops would be Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham New Street, Cheltenham Spa, Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Exeter St. David’s and Newton Abbot.
  • Journey time would be just over twelve hours.
  • By comparison a sleeper between London and Edinburgh takes about seven hours and thirty minutes.

He calls the service the NESW Sleeper.

I have some thoughts on the proposal.

A Spine Route Between Edinburgh And Penzance

The route is effectively a spine between Edinburgh and Plymouth on which other services can be built.

Unlike the Caledonian Sleeper, Des Bradley doesn’t feel the train should split and join as it travels up and down the country.

But I do think that the NESW Sleeper can be timed to fit in with high-quality connecting services to extend the coverage.

An Innovative Timetable

Des Bradley’s timetable is innovative.

  • Trains leave Edinburgh and Plymouth around 21:00.
  • Trains arrive at their destination around 09:00.
  • Trains stop for about two hours at Derby.
  • After resting at Derby, the trains are effectively early morning trains.


  1. The wait at Derby, adds extra time, that can be used to make up for engineering diversions, which often happen at night!
  2. The trains could be used by non-sleeper passengers to get to Plymouth or Edinburgh early.

The consequence of the second point, is that the trains will have to offer some Standard Class seats.

Should The Train Serve Penzance?

The Great Western Railway’s Night Riviera sleeper train calls at Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, St.Austell, Truro, Redruth, Cambourne, Hoyle and St. Erth between Plymouth and Penzance.

According to a proposed NESW timetable, the Night Riviera has long gone, before the NESW Sleeper arrives in Plymouth at 08:58.

But I’m sure Great Western Railway could arrange for a convenient service between Plymouth and Penzance to pick up passengers in the morning and deliver them in the evening. This picture taken at Plymouth, indicates that cross-platform interchange may be possible.

This picture shows a pair of GWR Castles, which regularly work additional services between Plymouth and Penzance.

What About Wales?

I suspect that Cardiff, Swansea and other towns and cities in South Wales, can be served in a similar way, by connecting with GWR services at Bristol Parkway station.

Other Connecting Services

Birmingham New Street, Derby, Leeds and Newcastle are important interchange stations and I can see services being timed to bring passengers to and from the NESW Sleeper.

Rolling Stock

The author offers choices for the trains, based on what is used currently in the UK and adding multiple units. But he is definitely tending towards fixed formations.

I feel that the trains should meet the following criteria.

They should be of similar standard as the Caledonian Sleeper.

They would need an independently-powered capability for sections without electrification.

They should be zero-carbon.

They should offer a range of accommodation including Standard Class seats to cater the early birds and budget travellers.

The possibility to run at 100 mph or faster might be useful to catch up time on some sections of the route.

I think that two trains could be possible.

  • A rake of coaches hauled by a hydrogen-electric locomotive.
  • A battery-electric Sleeper Multiple-Unit with a range of perhaps eighty miles on batteries.

This is a sentence from the article.

The concept of ‘Sleeper Multiple-Units’ has also emerged in recent years, and this idea could be attractive; although it has some inherent inflexibility, it could in the future allow multi-portion or experimental new routes to be tagged onto the core service.

Sleeper Multiple Units might enable a South Wales and Edinburgh service, that used the same train path between Edinburgh and Bristol Parkway, where the two trains would split and join.


I like this proposal and definitely think it is a good idea.




September 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Open Access Operators And The Lumo Model

In the UK, there are only three established Open Access operators, who run UK train services.

  • Grand Central
  • Heathrow Express
  • Hull Trains

From the 25th of October, they will be joined by Lumo.

We probably don’t think of Heathrow Express as an Open Access operator and as it is effectively a short distance special service with new trains between Heathrow and Paddington, it has its own business model, that may or may not survive.

But how will Lumo and their bold new business model affect Grand Central, Hull Trains and any future Open Access operators?

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central is a well-established Open Access operator.

  • They run services between London King’s Cross and Bradford Interchange, Sunderland and several other convenient en-route stations.
  • They are owned by Deutsche Bahn.
  • They also regularly seem to apply for new routes and extra services.

But they have a big problem fast catching up on them; they have a diesel-only fleet and need to decarbonise.

I also think that all express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line will at some date need to be run by 140 mph trains capable of running with full digital signalling and a degree of Automatic Train Operation.

In Lumo: Why Won’t The New Train Service Stop At Yorkshire Stations?, I said that to continue to be successful, they probably need to embrace the Lumo model and acquire new trains.

I will repeat what I said in the related post.

This would entail.

  • The ten diesel Class 180 trains would be replaced by new electric trains.
  • The trains would need a 140 mph capability under digital signalling to fit in with the plans of Network Rail, LNER and Lumo to create a top-class high-speed high-capacity East Coast Main Line.
  • The trains would need a battery capability as Grand Central’s routes are not fully electrified.
  • They could copy Lumo’s green marketing philosophy, ticketing and catering offering.

As to the trains, I’m sure that Hitachi could offer a version of their Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

The trains would need a range of fifty miles on battery-power.

I have some other thoughts.


If you look at the finances of decarbonising Grand Central, they would need a new fleet of ten trains, which as Lumo’s fleet of five trains are reported to be costing £100 million, so that figure can be at least doubled.

There would also be costs for the two charging systems at Bradford Interchange and Sunderland. But at least there are several possible solutions for charging systems, so the price will probably not be more than a few million, if that.

Will Deutsche Bahn be prepared to stump up the extra finance?

A Service To Cleethorpes

In the Wikipedia entry for Grand Central, there is a section which is entitled London Kings Cross to Cleethorpes, which outlines a proposed service.

  • It would split and join with the London King’s Cross and Bradford service at Doncaster.
  • It would call at Crowle, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby.
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes is 52.1 miles and should be in range of a Battery-electric train with a charging system at Cleethorpes.

Using current times from LNER and TransPennine Express, I estimate that Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains could travel between London and Cleethorpes in around two hours and twenty minutes.

With digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Doncaster, the overall time could be much closer to two hours.

This could be a very viable service with battery-electric trains capable of running at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line and for sixty miles at 100 mph on battery power.

Maximising The Use Use Of Train Paths By The Use Of Splitting And Joining

The proposed service to Cleethorpes is a classic use of splitting and joining, which enables two separate services to run a large part of their routes together.

  • On the East Coast Main Line, it means that maximum use can be made of the paths available.
  • Splitting and joining is part of the specification for the Hitachi trains and they do it automatically in under two minutes.
  • LNER are already talking about using the technique to serve various destinations from Leeds.

I wouldn’t rule out Grand Central’s two services working as a pair between London King’s Cross and Doncaster, where they would split and join.

Conclusion On Grand Central Trains

Decarbonisation with high-speed battery-electric trains could ensure the future of Grand Central Trains.

Hull Trains

Hull Trains is another well-established Open Access operator.

  • They run services between London King’s Cross and Hull and Beverley.
  • They have a fleet of five bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • The company is part of First Group.

Hull Trains don’t have the decarbonisation problem of Grand Central Trains, as I suspect Hitachi will come up with a solution to turn Class 802 trains into a battery-electric train with a range of perhaps seventy miles on battery power.

  • Beverley and Temple Hirst junction is a distance of 44.3 miles and is the only section of the route without electrification.
  • Charging of the batteries will be needed at the Eastern end and probably would be best handled by a short length of electrification in Hull station or between Hull and Brough stations.

The Class 802 trains are also ready for updating to run under the new digital signalling of the East Coast Main Line.

First Harrogate Trains

First Harrogate Trains was a subsidiary of Hull Trains, which hoped to run the following services.

  • London King’s Cross and Harrogate via York
  • London King’s Cross and Cleethorpes via Peterborough, Spalding and Lincoln

Both these services could be run in conjunction with the current service with an appropriate split and join.

Conclusion On Hull Trains

As both Hull Trains and Lumo share London King’s Cross and are both owned by First Group, I would expect that both train operators would share some services, methods and ideas.

There may be advantages if Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains and Lumo’s Class 803 trains could run each other’s services.

Grand Union

Grand Union is a prospective open access operator who are proposing to operate train services from England to Wales and Scotland.

They are proposing two services.

London Paddington and Cardiff Central via Reading, Bristol Parkway, Severn Tunnel Junction, Newport and Cardiff Parkway, with a possible extension later to Swansea andLlanelli or Carmarthen.

London Euston and Stirling via Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.


  1. London Paddington and Cardiff Central is fully electrified, but there is no electrification West of Cardiff Central.
  2. Cardiff Central and Swansea are 45.7 miles apart.
  3. London Euston and Stirling is fully electrified.

Currently, the rolling stock for both services is proposed to be a tri-mode Class 93 locomotive hauling a rake of Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer.

The locomotive should be capable of handling the routes to Stirling and Cardiff using the electrification alone.

When the Cardiff route is extended, Grand Union would intend to use Class 802 trains, which could be fitted with batteries to serve Swansea, where the batteries would be charged.

There is no sign as yet, that the Office of Rail and Road have approved any of their possible services, but both services might be improved with some Lumo-style thinking.

Alliance Rail Holdings

Alliance Rail Holdings, which is a sister company to Grand Central, is ultimately owned by Deutsche Bahn, seems to have several ideas for new services, but only seems to have got approval to one.

They were given approval some years ago to run a service between London Euston and Blackpool North.

  • Calls would be made at Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Wesham, Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes Central.
  • There will be six trains per day.
  • Trains would be InterCity 225 trains.
  • The approval is for seven years from 2018.

But because of the pandemic it hasn’t run.


The Lumo model will affect all these services.




September 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Does Birmingham Interchange Station On High Speed Two Need Four Long Platforms?

This page on the High Speed Two web site describes the design and construction at Birmingham Interchange station.

This paragraph talks about the overall design philosophy of the station.

The Interchange Station itself will be made up of two 415 metre long island platforms, offering 4 platform faces, as well as 2 central high speed through lines for non-stopping services. The station will be linked to the NEC, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Airport via an automated people mover carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction. In addition to the APM, the station will be fully integrated with other local buses, taxis and private vehicle options.


  1. There would appear to be six tracks through the station.
  2. The four platforms will accept the longest High Speed Two trains.
  3. The automated people mover appears to be very comprehensive.

Birmingham Interchange certainly seems to have been designed as a very high capacity station.

This table gives the a list of the trains that will call at Birmingham Interchange station.


  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 14 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size


  1. 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. Train 11 is a pair of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that  split and join at Carlisle.

Only five 400 metre trains call at Birmingham Interchange.

I have some thoughts.

Stations Served From Birmingham Interchange

These destinations are served from Birmingham Interchange.

  • Two tph – Birmingham Curzon Street
  • One tph – Carlisle
  • One tph – East Midlands Hub
  • One tph – Edinburgh Haymarket
  • One tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • One tph – Glasgow Central
  • One tph – Leeds
  • Five tph – London Euston
  • One tph – Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – Motherwell
  • One tph – Preston

I suspect as the service develops more services will stop at Birmingham Interchange, to reduce the number of passenger journeys where a change is necessary.

Surely Liverpool needs a service from Birmingham Interchange, as it doesn’t have one from Birmingham Curzon Street.

Perhaps, the Liverpool/Lancaster service should stop at Birmingham Interchange?

Splitting And Joining At Birmingham Interchange


  • The position of Birmingham Interchange to the South of the junction where the Western and Eastern legs, surely makes it an ideal place for splitting and joining a pair of trains, one of which serves the Western leg and the other serves the Eastern.
  • The Liverpool/Lancaster service could split and join at Birmingham Interchange to give better connectivity between the North West and the West Midlands.

Intelligent use of splitting and joining at Birmingham Interchange could make better use of paths to and from Euston.

Splitting And Joining Of Full-Size Trains At Birmingham Interchange

According to the currently proposed timetable Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly will all get three Full-Size tph to and from London Euston, with East Midlands Hub and Leeds getting two Full-Size tph.

This may be a right decision, but if four Full-Size tph is the frequency needed on some routes, then splitting and joining of Full-Size trains can be used at Birmingham Interchange to increase frequencies.

Suppose it was decided that the Leeds and Manchester services needed to be four Full-Size tph.

  • The London and Manchester service that stops at Birmingham Interchange would split into two trains at the station, with one train going to Manchester and the other going to Leeds.
  • The London and Leeds service that stops at Birmingham Interchange would split into two trains at the station, with one train going to Manchester and the other going to Leeds.

Coming South the two services would join at Birmingham Interchange.

I can almost envisage  Full-Size pairs of trains leaving London Euston every ten minutes, which then split and join at Birmingham Interchange to give Leeds and Manchester a core service of six Full-Size tph.

There are a large number of possibilities.

Down One Leg Up T’Other

Birmingham Interchange can be used as an interchange station for journeys where you come South on one leg and then go North on the other.

It might even be possible to arrange some changes with an interchange across one of the island platforms at Birmingham Interchange.

Turning Back Trains

There is a worry about late trains delaying everything.

But because it has four platforms, it could be the station, where trains are turned back, when they are running very late.

It could be better to turnback a train at Birmingham Interchange, rather than let it run all the way to Euston and create havoc.

Perhaps, simulation has shown, that two extra platforms at Birmingham Interchange enable the optimal working of ten platforms t Euston?

Line Blocked Or Blockaded Between Birmingham And Euston

Events happen and there may be reasons why services can’t run through to London.

It could easily be turned into a mini-terminus for services to the North and linked to London by either the West Coast Main Line or a Rail Replacement Bus.


Because of its position in the middle of the country, I suspect there are many reasons for the four long platforms at Birmingham Interchange station.


August 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 10 Comments

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the opening paragraph.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast Main Line services.

Some other points from the article.

  • It appears that LNER would like to eliminate diesel traction if possible.
  • On-board energy storage is mentioned.
  • No form of power appears to be ruled out, including hydrogen.
  • LNER have all 65 of their Azumas in service.

The last paragraph is very informative.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2021) from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour, out of Kings Cross, compared to five today. As an interim measure, LNER is retaining seven rakes of Mk 4 coaches hauled by 12 Class 91 locomotives to supplement the Azuma fleet and support its timetable ambitions until the new trains are delivered.

These are my thoughts.

More Azumas?

Surely, It would require a very innovative train at perhaps a rock-bottom price from another manufacturer, for LNER to not acquire extra Azumas.

Classic-Compatible Trains For High Speed Two


  • Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens and Talgo are involved in the competition to design Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two.
  • As the York and Edinburgh section of the East Coast Main Line will eventually be upgraded and used by High Speed Two services,
  • Also in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, is an article entitled 140 mph Plan For ECML North of York, which details improvements proposed by Northern Powerhouse Rail to improve services between Leeds and Edinburgh.

Would there be advantages to High Speed Two, LNER and Network Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail, to have some commonality between the  High Speed Two, LNER and Northern Powerhouse Rail fleets?

Hopefully, the various government-controlled companies are talking.

A Flagship Train For Aberdeen And Inverness

The InterCity 225s, which consist of a Class 91 locomotive and a rake of nine Mark 4 coaches, have given thirty years of top-quality service on the East Coast Main Line and appear to be being asked to handle services until the new trains are delivered.

  • Full-length InterCity 225s are 245 metres long and have 406 Standard and 129 First seats or a total of 535 seats.
  • Nine-car Azumas are 234 metres long and have 510 Standard and 101 First seats or a total of 611 seats.
  • Two five-car Azumas working as a pair are 260 metres long and have 604 seats. They can also be handled on most platforms, that are used by LNER.
  • The power of a Class 91 locomotive is 4.83 MW.
  • A Class 91 locomotive is 19.4 metres long and weighs 81.5 tonnes.
  • Both Azumas and InterCity 225s can maintain 125 mph with ease on the East Coast Main Line and both will be able to reach 140 mph with in-cab signalling.

There would appear to be nothing wrong with locomotive-hauled high speed services, in terms of capacity and performance.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I laid out my thoughts on a high-powered railway locomotive fuelled by hydrogen, that used one or possibly two Rolls-Royce gas-turbine engines to generate electricity for traction.

With all the work done, by the companies bidding for Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two, into very high speed trains, I believe that at least one company could build a locomotive with this specification.

  • 140 mph operation on 25 KVAC overhead electrification. As I said, that was done by British Rail almost forty years ago.
  • Ability to use full digital in-cab signalling. This is on its way and already working in some applications.
  • 110 mph operation on hydrogen. Hitachi are planning 100 mph battery trains, so it should be possible.
  • 400 mile range on one filling of hydrogen. This is working in Germany.
  • Ability to be upgraded to higher speeds on electric power, should the East Coast Main Line be upgraded for higher speeds in the future. The train manufacturers are probably ahead of track designers with this one.

Such a locomotive would be key to building a train with this specification.

  • Sub-four hour time between London and Edinburgh.
  • Sub-seven hour time between London and Aberdeen, which has 130 miles without wires.
  • Sub-eight hour time between London and Inverness, which has 146 miles without wires.
  • Hydrogen would be used, where there is no electrification.
  • Zero-carbon at all times.
  • A maximum length of 260 metres, which I estimate could give a passenger capacity of around 640 seats.
  • The last coach would include a driving van trailer.
  • They would not need the ability to split and join, except for the purpose of rescue, as there is no platform on the route, that could accommodate the resulting 520 metre long pair of trains.

I estimate that a fleet of around seven trains would be needed to run the current Aberdeen and Inverness services.

A few extra thoughts.

  • Could they have an up-market more spacious interior, as their main competition to the North of Scotland, would be the budget airlines?
  • Could they be slightly longer, with some platform work at Kings Cross and other stations?
  • Add a few extra trains to the order, so that extra services between London and Edinburgh could be added to the timetable.
  • Could the driving van trailer incorporate an observation car?
  • Hydrogen refuelling shouldn’t be a problem in Scotland, as the country is developing a hydrogen economy.
  • Hydrogen refuelling wouldn’t be needed in England, as they’d be using the electrification.
  • As an alternative to hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel could be used.

I suspect that Talgo, would be very happy to tender.

  • They are developing hydrogen-powered trains as I wrote in Talgo: Our Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023.
  • They are building a factory in Scotland, close to the Forth Bridge.
  • Because of the factory, Talgo probably have the ear of the Scottish Government, who would probably welcome a Scottish-built train.
  • A shorter version of these trains without the hydrogen, could be the design for a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, for which Talgo, are on the short list of suppliers.

What better way, would there be to sell your hydrogen-powered high speed trains, than to give prospective clients a ride up from London to the factory in the luxury version?

A New Elizabethan

I can remember The Elizabethan, which was a steam-hauled non-stop express between London and Edinburgh between 1953 and 1961.

I have laid out my ideas for a modern express train of the same name in A New Elizabethan.

It could be an interesting concept, to increase capacity between London and Edinburgh.

Splitting And Joining

Some of LNER’s philosophy to serve places like Harrogate, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough, depends on the ability to split and join trains.

A pair of Azumas could leave London and go to Leeds, where they would split, with one train going to Harrogate and the other going to Huddersfield.

When returning to London, the two trains would join at Leeds.

The big advantage of splitting and joining, is that it increases the capacity on the main line, as services can be arranged, so that every path always carries a full-length train. I would expect that LNER would prefer never to run a single five-car Azuma into Kings Cross.

Currently LNER have these paths to and from Kings Cross.

  • 2 tph between London Kings Cross and Leeds
  • 1 tph between London Kings Cross and Lincoln and East Yorkshire
  • 2 tph between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh


  1. LNER have already started to extend services from Leeds, so will we see splitting and joining being used on one tph at Leeds to provide services to several destinations, throughout the day.
  2. Splitting and joining at Edinburgh is surely another possibility, to serve Stirling and Glasgow, with the same train.
  3. Splitting and joining at York could serve destinations like Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Redcar, Scarborough and Sunderland.
  4. In A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020, I advocated splitting at Grantham station to serve both Nottingham and Lincoln.

There are a lot of possibilities for splitting and joining.

As LNER has a fleet of twenty-two five-car Azumas, if the new trains are needed to split and join on certain services, this might mean more five-car Azumas are a better buy.

What Will Happen To Nine Car Azumas?

Hitachi have launched the Regional Battery Train concept, the specification of which is given in this Hitachi infographic.

The diesel engines in LNER’s Class 800 trains will be able to be replaced with batteries, making them all-electric trains.

  • Destinations like Cleethorpes, Dundee, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough Nottingham, Perth, Redcar, Scarborough, Sheffield and Sunderland will be within range of battery electric Azumas.
  • Some destinations would need the ability to charge the train before it returned, but I can see lots of places getting an appropriate service, even if it was just one or two trains per day.
  • Unfortunately, Aberdeen and Inverness would be too far for battery electric Azumas, so services will still need to be run by nine-car bi-mode Azumas.

Five-car battery electric Azumas working in pairs from London could be the key to increasing LNER services.

I can see that LNER may end up with too many nine-car Azumas, if nine-car trains are replaced by pairs of five-car trains to serve two destinations by splitting and joining.

Would it be possible to shorten nine-car Azumas to five-car trains?

These are the formations of the two trains.

  • nine-car: DPTS-MS-MS-TS-MS-TS-MC-MF-DPTF
  • five-car: DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF

It is known, that the trains have a computer, that does a quick check on start-up to determine, what cars are present and correct in the train.

  • This means that if LNER needed twelve-car trains for say London and Edinburgh, they could create a sub-fleet by just buying the requisite number of extra TS (Trailer Standard) and MS (Motor Standard) cars and coupling them up.
  • This feature also means that operators running fleets of five-car Hitachi trains, like TransPennine Express and Hull Trains can increase capacity by just purchasing the extra cars.
  • It would also allow, cars to be shuffled to create viable trains, after say several cars were damaged by vandalism.

All trains these days seem to have this very operator-friendly feature.

With LNER’s trains, I suspect that all cars of the same type are identical.

This would mean, that a nine-car train can be converted to a five-car by removing two TS (Trailer Standard), one MS (Motor Standard) and one MF (Motor First) cars.

The four cars, that have been removed could be reconfigured to form the middle three cars of a new five-car train, which would be completed by adding new DPTS (Driver Pantograph Trailer Standard) and DPTF (Driver Pantograph Trailer First) cars.

An Increase In Paths From 5 To 6.5

This will certainly allow LNER to run more services.

The odd half path could be easy to explain.

  • Hull is a city, that is on the up.
  • I suspect that it could support a five-car direct service from London with a frequency of one tph.
  • But Hull Trains are also running a successful service on the route.

Perhaps a fair solution, would be to allow both LNER and Hull Trains to run a one train per two hour (tp2h) service.

If LNER didn’t want to use the path to just run a five-car train to Hull, there are several possibilities for a split and join.

  • With a Cleethorpes, Lincoln or Nottingham service at Grantham.
  • With a Cleethorpes or Lincoln service at Newark.
  • With a Cleethorpes, Middlesbrough, Sheffield or Sunderland service at Doncaster.

I can only see splitting and joining increasing, which surely means an Azuma order is more likely.

As someone, who spent a working life, writing software to schedule projects, I can’t resist speculating on what to do with the extra whole path, that LNER will be allocated, when the infrastructure allows.

  • Many travellers wouldn’t mind LNER providing more seats between the English and Scottish capitals.
  • Many would like an alternative to flying.
  • Others would like a faster service.
  • Leeds and York will soon be a route, that LNER’s Azumas will be able to use without diesel, because of extra electrification and Azumas with traction batteries.

This leads me to believe that LNER could use the extra path for a third London and Edinburgh service in every hour, that ran via Leeds.

  • Additionally, it might stop at stations like Peterborough, York, Darlington or Newcastle.
  • It could also provide a non-stop London and Leeds service.
  • Some services could go non-stop between London and Edinburgh.
  • The direct London and Edinburgh service would be under four hours.
  • Going via Leeds would add under an hour.

It would be run by a nine-car all-electric Azumas, of which there will be unlikely to be a shortage.

How Many Azumas Could Be Fitted With Batteries Instead Of Diesel Engines?

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, has a section called Powertrain, where this is said.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.


  • Class 807 trains for Aventi West Coast will have no batteries or diesel engines. Does this save weight?
  • Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains will only have a small battery for emergency hotel power, in case of catenary failure. Does this save weight?
  • Saving weight should improve acceleration and deceleration, which could reduce journey times.
  • Removal of diesel engines would reduce the trains carbon footprint.
  • Removal of diesel engines could reduce maintenance costs.
  • Diesel engines are only needed for services that run North of Edinburgh. Other sections without electrification are probably within battery range or could be easily made so.
  • It appears every Motor car (MC, MF and MS) can be fitted with a diesel engine, although in Class 801 trains, only one is fitted. Does that mean that every Motor car in the future, could have a battery?

I think this could lead to the following.

  • The Class 801 trains are fitted with sufficient batteries to enable handling of expected emergencies. These could be similar to those in the Class 803 trains.
  • Enough nine-car Class 800 trains would be kept with diesel engines to work the Aberdeen and Inverness services. These routes at 130 and 146 miles without wires are too long for battery trains, without a succession of chargers along the routes.
  • If a third Edinburgh service were to be introduced, could some of the remainder of the nine-car Class 800 trains be converted to Class 801 trains, by removing the diesel engines?
  • I would expect most of the five-car thirty-six Class 800 trains would be fitted with batteries to run services to destinations, that can be reached on battery power. In a few years time, these will probably mean splitting and joining at Edinburgh, Leeds and other places.
  • Could we even see the twelve five-car Class 801 trains converted to battery electric Class 800 trains, which would surely give maximum flexibility about their use?

If the software on the trains, is as intelligent as it could be and can accept cars with diesel engines, batteries or no extra power, then LNER will have an enormous amount of flexibility, to configure the trains as they need.

I could even see a nine-car Class 800 train with a mix of batteries and diesel engines, that can be used as range extenders, reaching further towards Aberdeen and Inverness.

Consider a five-car Class 800 train with two batteries and a single diesel engine!

  • If I assume that Hitachi’s specification for the Regional Battery Train, is for a five-car train with three diesel engines replaced with battery packs, then a two battery pack train could have a range of 60 km or 37 miles.
  • If the route wasn’t very challenging, and the computer made judicious use of the diesel engine, could the train’s range be extended to beyond the ninety kilometres of the three-battery pack train.
  • The diesel engine could also be used to charge the batteries, before returning to the electrification of the main line.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I talked about Adrian Shooter and his concept of a Pop-Up Metro, run for perhaps a year, to test if a Metro service would be viable, instead of spending the money on consultants.

The two-battery pack/one diesel Class 800 train, could run a Pop-Up London Service to test the need for a London service. All it would need is a convenient platform long enough to take a 130 metre long Class 800 train.

Possible destinations to test could include Cleethorpes, Dundee, Glenrothes-with-Thornton, Grimsby, Nottingham, Norwich, Perth, Redcar, Sheffield and Sunderland


There is a lot of scope to develop LNER’s services.

I think it is likely that the order will go to Hitachi.

But as I indicated, I do believe that there is scope for a manufacturer to design a zero-carbon train, that was able to serve the Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • I suspect a fleet of ten trains would be sufficient.
  • Trains would use the 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it exists and hydrogen or battery power North of the wires.

The trains would also be capable of being upgraded to high speeds, should the East Coast Main Line be turned into a High Speed Line.

I also think, that whatever trains are bought, there will be a large upgrading of the existing Hitachi fleet, which will add batteries to a lot of trains.

November 25, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Splitting And Joining Of High Speed Two Trains

In Existing Stations Where High Speed Two Trains Will Call, I looked at how existing stations will need to be modified to handle the High Speed Two service pattern described in an article, which is entitled HS2 Minister Backs 18 tph Frequency, in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article states that splitting and joining of trains will take place at three stations; Carlisle, Crewe and East Midlands Hub.

To successfully split and join the pairs of 200 metre long High Speed Two trains, the following will be needed.

  •  400 metre long platforms, that can handle the pair of trains.
  • Excellent signage, so that passengers get into the right train and leave for the right destination.
  • Efficient crew methods, so that drivers are in the correct cabs at the right time.

For many years trains at Cambridge and several places South of London have successfully split and joined.

This video shows two Class 395 trains coupling and uncoupling automatically.

It;s impressive and I suspect High Speed Two’s trains will be equally good or even better at this procedure.

Why Is Split And Join Needed For High Speed Two?

According to the Modern Railways article, the full High Speed Two service will be as follows in trains per hour (tph) and trains per two hours (tp2h)

  1. 1 tph – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street via Old Oak Common (OOC) – 400 metres
  2. 2 tph – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street via OOC and Birmingham Interchange – 400 metres
  3. 1 tph – London Euston and Lancaster via OOC, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston – London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street via OOC, Crewe and Runcorn – 200+200 metres with Split/Join at Crewe
  4. 1 tph – London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street via OOC, Crewe and Runcorn – 200 metres
  5. 1 tph – London Euston and Macclesfield via OOC, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent – 200 metres
  6. 1 tph – London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via OOC, Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport – 400 metres
  7. 2 tph – London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via OOC and Manchester Airport – 400 metres
  8. 1 tph – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via OOC, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket – London Euston and Glasgow Central via OOC, Preston and Carlisle – 200 +200 metres with Split/Join at Carlisle
  9. 1 tph – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via OOC, Birmingham Interchange, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket – London Euston and Glasgow Central via OOC, Preston and Carlisle – 200 +200 metres with Split/Join at Carlisle
  10. 1 tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith and Edinburgh Haymarket – 200 metres
  11. 1 tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Lockerbie and Motherwell – 200 metres
  12. 2 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport – 200 metres
  13. 2 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds via East Midlands Hub – 200 metres
  14. 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, Darlington and Durham – 200 metres
  15. 1 tph – London Euston and Sheffield via OOC and East Midlands Hub – London Euston and Leeds via OOC and East Midlands Hub – 200 + 200 metres with Split/Join at East Midlands Hub
  16. 1 tph – London Euston and Leeds via OOC and East Midlands Hub – 400 metres
  17. 1 tph – London Euston and Leeds via OOC, Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub – 400 metres
  18. 1 tph – London Euston and Sheffield via OOC, East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield – London Euston and York via OOC and East Midlands Hub – 200 + 200 metres with Split/Join at East Midlands Hub
  19. 1tph – London Euston and Newcastle via OOC and York – 200 metres
  20. 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via OOC, York and Darlington – 200 metres


  1. Trains 10 and 11 share the same path in alternate hours.
  2. Birmingham Curzon Street is effectively a second Southern terminus.
  3. Seventeen tph leave London Euston and Old Oak Common for the North, of which eight are 400 metre trains, five are a pair of 200 metre trains and four are 200 metre trains.

As the five pairs of 200 metre trains Split/Join en route, this effectively means, that London Euston is served by twenty-two tph.

It would appear that Split/Join is important, as it allows the same number of train paths between London Euston and the North to support more services.

Could Any Other Trains Be Split And Joined?

I don’t see why not!

There are eight tph going North from London Euston and Old Oak Common, that are 400 metre long trains that don’t Split/Join

  • 3 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street
  • 2 tph – Leeds
  • 3 tph – Manchester Piccadilly


  1. Each 400 metre train would appear to have a capacity of around 1,100 passengers.
  2. Leeds is also served by another 200 metre train from London.

Effectively, this gives the following passenger capacities between London and the three major cities.

  • Birmingham – 3,300
  • Leeds – 2,750
  • Manchester – 3,300

If these capacities have been carefully predicted, performing a Split/Join on these trains might cause a shortage of capacity.

There are four single 200 metre trains, that could be doubled up for their run to the North.

  1. London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street via OOC, Crewe and Runcorn
  2. London Euston and Macclesfield via OOC, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent
  3. London Euston and Newcastle via OOC and York
  4. London Euston and Newcastle via OOC, York and Darlington

In theory, these four trains could be doubled to provide extra services.

But there are two problems.

Where Would The Trains Split and Join?

  • Train 1 could Split/Join at Crewe.
  • Train 2 could Split/Join at Stafford, if the platforms were lengthened to accept a pair of 200 metre trains.
  • Trains 3 and 4 would need to stop at East Midlands Hub to Split/Join

It would appear that four extra trains could be run into London Euston, by running all single trains as pairs.

Where Would The Extra Services Terminate?

There are possibilities on the Western leg of High Speed Two.

  • An extra train for Liverpool Lime Street
  • An extra train for Lancaster
  • A direct train for the current Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow and Stockport
  • A direct train for Blackpool

But the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is more of a problem.

  • An extra train for Sheffield
  • A direct train for Hull.

Hull could be served via a new junction between High Speed Two and the Hull-Leeds Line to the North-West of Garforth or perhaps by extending a service from Sheffield.

Could Any Services North From Birmingham Curzon Street Be Split And Joined?

These 200 metre services go North from Birmingham Curzon Street station.

  1. 1 tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith and Edinburgh Haymarket
  2. 1 tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Lockerbie and Motherwell
  3. 2 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport
  4. 2 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds via East Midlands Hub
  5. 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, Darlington and Durham.

Note that trains 1 and 2 share the same path in alternate hours.

There may be scope to double up some of these trains, to serve extra destinations in the North from Birmingham Curzon Street.


Split/Join is a powerful tool to increase the number of services without spending a fortune on new infrastructure.








June 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

LNER Services To Double Between Bradford And London

The title of this post is the same as that as this press release from LNER.

This is the introductory paragraph.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is pleased to confirm it will be doubling the number of Azuma weekday services between Bradford Forster Square and London King’s Cross from Monday 18 May 2020.

The timetable is as follows.


  • Leave Bradford Forster Square at 06:30 and arrive London Kings Cross at 08:59
  • Leave Bradford Forster Square at 08:43 and arrive London Kings Cross at 11:31


  • Leave London Kings Cross at 16:33 and arrive Bradford Forster Square at 19:29
  • Leave London Kings Cross at 18:33 and arrive Bradford Forster Square at 21:29

All services appear to call at Shipley between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square.

The press release doesn’t say if the trains split and join at Leeds station, but the timings are generous enough, if it is needed.

I wonder, if there will be more services between London and Bradford Forster Square in a few months. It probably depends on the level of success.

March 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

LNER Expands To Huddersfield

This press release from LNER is entitled LNER Announces Direct Services Between Huddersfield And London.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

LNER is proud to announce new Azuma services will be introduced between Huddersfield and London King’s Cross from Monday 18 May 2020.

The daily weekday service in each direction will be LNER’s first direct link between the West Yorkshire market town and the capital.

They will also connect nearby Dewsbury directly with London King’s Cross, after more than a generation of no direct services between Huddersfield and London.

The timetable will be as follows.

The new southbound service will depart from Huddersfield at 05:50 and Dewsbury at 06:01. The Azuma service will arrive in Leeds at 06:16, where it will couple to another five-car Azuma to form the 06:40 Leeds to London King’s Cross service, which will arrive in the capital at 08:51 on weekdays.

The evening northbound service will depart from London King’s Cross at 18:03 and will be formed of two five-car Azuma trains, which will split in Leeds, with one train continuing to Skipton and the other to Dewsbury, arriving at 20:45 and then Huddersfield at 20:58.

Joining and splitting is definitely being brought to Yorkshire by LNER.

I wonder, if there will be a London to Huddersfield service in the reverse direction in a few months.

March 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment