The Anonymous Widower

Drax, Velocys Help Launch Coalition For Negative Emissions

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Biomass Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

U.K.-based companies Drax Group and Velocys are among 11 organizations that have launched the Coalition for Negative Emissions, which aims to achieve a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 by developing pioneering projects that can remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere.

This paragraph details the companies and organisations involved.

In addition to Drax and Velocys, members of the coalition include Carbon Engineering, Carbon Removal Centre, CBI, Carbon Capture and Storage Association, Climeworks, Energy U.K., Heathrow, International Airlines Group, and the U.K. National Farmers Union.

They have sent a letter to the Government, which can be downloaded from the Drax website.


I have an open mind about biomass and products such as aviation biofuel and techniques such as carbon capture.

Keeping the wheels of commerce turning, needs a sustainable way to fly and ideas such as producing aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, could enable sustainable transport in the short term.

Carbon capture is very difficult in a lot of processes, but I feel that in some, such as a modern gas-turbine powered station, if they are designed in an innovative manner, they an be made to deliver a pure stream of the gas. A pure gas must be easier to handle, than one contaminated with all sorts of unknowns, as you might get from burning some sources of coal.

I am pleased that the National Farmers Union is involved as using pure carbon dioxide, as a growth promoter for greenhouse crops is a proven use for carbon dioxide.

Overall, I am optimistic about the formation of the Coalition for Negative Emissions.


October 14, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Humber Highlighted As Prime Location For Sustainable Aviation Fuel Cluster

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Business Live.

Points to note from the article.

  • Development of a waste-to-aviation biofuel plant on Humberside could be a £219 million annual boost to the economy and create 1500 jobs.
  • There is a pipeline to Heathrow from the Humber.
  • Velocys is backed by British Airways and Shell, and the UK government.
  • Not bad for an Oxford University spin-off of an updated process that produced diesel for the Nazis and apartheid South Africa.
  • Other potential sustainable aviation fuel clusters have been identified including Teesside, the North West, South Wales, Hampshire, St Fergus and Grangemouth.

Velocys is a share to watch!

Other Thoughts

I feel the following could happen.

  • Velocys will make a large hole in the need for landfill capacity.
  • Other old chemical and refinery processes will be updated using new catalyst technology, from universities like Oxford.

But will British Airways be accused of rubbish flights in the tabloids?


October 13, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Concept Of Electrification Islands

Consider how Imperial Airways and BOAC used to fly long routes to places like Sydney, Hong Kong and Cape Town before the days of long distance jet airliners. They used to fly from airport to airport, picking up fuel and supplies on the way.

If you want to know more about the details, read what is my favourite travel book, Beyond The Blue Horizon by Alexander Frater.

He followed the Imperial Airways route to Sydney, on what was reputed to be the most complicated ticket, that British Airways ever issued.

But can the concept of flying a short range airliner over a long distance refuelling as necessary, be applied to running a battery electric train by charging the batteries on a series of electrification islands?

In Ipswich And Peterborough In A Battery Train, I described how an Ipswich and Peterborough service could be run by a battery-equipped Class 755 train.

The Ipswich and Peterborough route is 82.5 miles long and it can be split as follows.

  • Ipswich and Haughley Junction – 13.8 miles – Electrified
  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38.2 miles – Not Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified

Legs two and three, should be within the capability of a battery-equipped Class 755 train. No definite figure has been given, but in the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, this was said about the similar Class 756 trains, ordered for the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

Perhaps, what is needed is to create an electrification island at Ely, that can be used to charge the batteries.

An Electrification Island At Ely

This map from Wikipedia shows the complicated railways at Ely,


  1. Ely station is fully electrified.
  2. The line to Cambridge,Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport is fully electrified. Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains between Norwich and Stansted Airport, change between diesel and electrification at Ely.
  3. The line to Kings Lynn is fully electrified.
  4. The lines to Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough are not electrified.
  5. Ely is a city of 20,000 inhabitants, so I suspect it must have a robust electricity supply.
  6. Freight trains take about five minutes to pass between Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions.
  7. Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions are 2.5 miles apart.
  8. There appears to be an avoiding line South-East of Ely station, where I’ve seen trains from Felixstowe to Peterborough sometimes wait for a few minutes before proceeding.
  9. There is also a lot of space at March station, where a passing loop with a charging station could be built.

I believe it would be possibly to do the following at Ely.

  • Electrify the West Curve and the South-East avoiding line.
  • Electrify the Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough lines for perhaps five miles.
  • If required, put a high capacity charging station on the avoiding line.

There would be plenty of electrification to charge the trains.

An alternative plan might be to electrify between March station and the new Soham station, which has been planned to open in 2021.

  • This would be around eighteen miles of electrification.
  • This would certainly be enough electrification to fully-charge passing freight and passenger trains.
  • Soham to Ely could be doubled.
  • The extra electrification would mean the two unelectrified sections of the Ipswich and Peterborough route; Haughley Junction-Soham and March-Peterborough would be well within range of a battery-electric train.
  • The proposed service between Cambridge and Wisbech would only have the twelve miles of the Bramley Line between March and Wisbech to run on battery power.

It might also be possible to put in an extra curve to make Ely Dock Junction, a full triangular junction. This would allow the new Soham station to have direct services to both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations, without a reverse at Ely station.

Other Possible Electrification Islands

I’ll break these down by regions and train operators.

East Anglia (Greater Anglia)

Greater Anglia only runs trains on diesel to the North of Cambridge and Ipswich, which are both fully electrified, as is Norwich.

I would consider Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich and Norwich to be electrification islands.

  • All have a good connection to the electrification power supply, as they handle main line electric trains.
  • All or most platforms at the stations are electrified to charge trains.
  • There are electrified sidings at Cambridge and Norwich and possibly at Ipswich.

Lowestoft and Yarmouth might be fitted with charging systems to make sure a fault doesn’t strand a train.

In Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’, I talked about a report in Rail Magazine, which said that the Class 755 trains will get a battery fitted at the first overhaul.

I wouldn’t be surprised, that in a couple of years, Greater Anglia announces the end of diesel power on some or all of their services.

East Coast Main Line (LNER and Others)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line (ECML), is increasingly becoming a railway where the vast majority of services are run by versions of Hitachi AT-300 trains.

Classes 800, 802 and 803 are bi-modes and can probably have some or all of their diesel engines replaced by batteries.

In Sparking A Revolution, I gave this specification for a Hitachi battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I will use these figures from Hitachi in this post.

Electrification Islands On The East Coast Main Line

There are several large and smaller stations along the ECML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.



  • Cleethorpes station would need a decent electricity supply. Offshore wind?
  • Doncaster is 52 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 37 miles away.
  • Newark is 63 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 29 miles away.

If you can get battery-electric trains to Cleethorpes, you also serve Grimsby Town station, which is three miles closer to the ECML.

With electrification islands at Lincoln and Scunthorpe and Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery range of at least sixty miles, electric trains could be run to Cleethorpes and Grimsby.

Would that improve the economy of the area?


Darlington station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bishop Auckland is 12 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 15 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 20 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 27 miles away.
  • Whitby is 47 miles away.

Darlington could support battery-electric operation of the Tees Valley Line, if the route doesn’t go for hydrogen. Note that hydrogen would probably also handle services from Middlesbrough to Newcastle, Nunthorpe and Whitby with ease.

Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.


Doncaster station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Cleethorpes is 52 miles away.
  • Hull is 40 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 25 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 19 miles away.

Doncaster could certainly support some battery-electric services.


Grantham station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Nottingham is 22 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham and Skegness services seem to take about four minutes to reverse in the station.

The Nottingham and Skegness service could take advantage of the driver changing ends to top up the battery.



  • Hull is a city of nearly 300,000 people, so it must have a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull station is under forty miles from the electrification of the ECML.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Scarborough is 54 miles away.
  • York is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.

I would certainly suspect that with an electrification island at Hull, the Hitachi AT-300 trains of Hull Trains and LNER could certainly run fully electric services to the city, if they were fitted with batteries.

With an electrification island at Scarborough, could Hull Trains and LNER services be extended to Scarborough?


Leeds station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • It also has electrified services to Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton.
  • Leeds and Huddersfield will be electrified in the next few years.

Harrogate is 18 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.



  • Lincoln station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 37 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Newark is 16 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.
  • Nottingham is 34 miles away and Leicester is 61 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 21 miles away.

With an electrification island at Lincoln, the following should be possible.

  • Electric services between Cleethorpes and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Doncaster and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Nottingham/Leicester and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. Electrify the Midland Main Line (MML) and this is easy.
  • Electric services between Peterborough and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. It may need an electrification island at Sleaford.
  • Electric services between London Kings Cross and Grimsby/Cleethorpes using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery, that is charged on the ECML and at Lincoln.

The London Kings Cross and Lincoln services could top up their batteries if required if they were run using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery

Surely, if Class 755 trains are good enough for Norfolk and Suffolk and both franchises are run by Abellio, then battery versions of these trains would be ideal for running services from Lincoln to Cleethorpes/Grimsby, Doncaster, Newark, Nottingham, Peterborough and Skegness.


If required an electrification island could be placed at Middlesbrough station.

  • Darlington is 15 miles away.
  • Newcastle is 47 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 13 miles away.
  • Whitby is 35 miles away.

This area might opt for hydrogen, but I believe battery-electric trains could also work the routes through Middlesbrough and Darlington. Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.



  • Newark North Gate station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 63 miles away.
  • Grimsby is 60 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 16 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 17 miles away.

With an electrification island at Cleethorpes/Grimsby, battery-electric services could be extended to either town. They would need to use the electrification island at Lincoln station to top-up the battery.


Newcastle station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Carlisle is 61 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 47 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 52 miles away.

Newcastle could surely support local services using battery-electric trains. They could be dual-voltage, so they can use Tyne and Wear Metro electrification.


Peterborough station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Ely is 31 miles away.
  • Leicester is 52 miles away, with Birmingham another 40 miles further.
  • Lincoln is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 35 miles away.

It might even be possible for Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery to be able to run between Stansted Airport and Birmingham for CrossCountry.

  • Stansted and Ely – 38 miles – Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Peterborough – 6 miles – Electrified (ECML)
  • Peterborough and Leicester – 52 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leicester and Nuneaton – 19 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Nuneaton – 3 miles – Electrified (WCML)
  • Nuneaton and Birmingham – 21 miles – Not Electrified


  1. Trains would charge when running under electrification and also during station stops in Cambridge, Ely, Peterborough  Leicester and Nuneaton.
  2. Trains would automatically raise and lower their pantographs as required.
  3. There may be scope to add sections of extra electrification.
  4. For example, electrification of the MML could add as much as eight miles of electrification, through Leicester.

As much as forty percent of the route between Birmingham and Stansted could be electrified.

Sandy/St. Neots

It is planned that the East West Railway (EWR) and the ECML will cross at an interchange station somewhere in this area.


Both stations are on the electrified ECML, so must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bedford is 10 miles away.
  • The electrification South of Cambridge is about 20 miles away.

It would surely be possible to create an electrification island, where the two major routes cross at Sandy/St. Neots.



  • Scarborough station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull is 54 miles away.
  • York is 42 miles away.

With charging facilities at Scarborough battery-electric trains could be run to the seaside resort.

  • I also think it would be possible to run a direct service between London Kings Cross and Scarborough using Hitachi AT-300 trains with batteries, either via York or Hull.
  • TransPennine’s Hitachi trains could also read Scarborough from York, if fitted with batteries.

Would battery-electric trains between Hull, Scarborough and York attract more users of the services?


If required an electrified island could be placed at Sleaford station.

  • Sleaford would need a decent electricity supply.
  • The station is where the Nottingham and Skegness and Peterborough and Lincoln routes cross.
  • Grantham on the ECML is 18 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 35 miles away.
  • Skegness is 40 miles away.

Services through Sleaford would be run as follows.

As Lincoln and Peterborough are likely to both have the ability to charge trains, the Peterborough and Lincoln route can probably be run using a battery-electric train, that also charges during the stop at Sleaford.

To run the Nottingham and Skegness route, there will need to be a charging facility or an electrification island at Skegness, as forty miles is to far from an out and back from Sleaford on battery power. The section between Sleaford and Nottingham is easier, as there is a reverse at the fully-electrified Grantham station, where the trains could top-up their batteries.


York station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • Harrogate is 20 miles away, with Leeds another 18 miles further.
  • Hull is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.
  • Scarborough is 42 miles away.

It would appear that battery-electric trains could work the routes between Doncaster, Harrogate, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough and York.

Midland Main Line (East Midlands Railway)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line (MML) is a mixture of electrified and non-electrified sections. East Midlands Railway have chosen Hitachi Class 810 trains to cope with the mixed infrastructure.

  • There will be thirty-three five car trains.
  • They will have four diesel engines instead of three in the Class 800 trains.
  • They will have a redesigned nose.

Are East Midlands Railway ordering a dual-purpose design?

In the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, this is said about the bi-mode Hitachi Class AT-300 trains for Avanti West Coast.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.


  • Both fleets of trains are for delivery in 2022.
  • Ease of manufacture would surely mean, that Hitachi would want the two fleets to be substantially the same.
  • A train with four engines could be needed to cruise at 125 mph on diesel.
  • Four engine slots would mean that, if you were replacing some engines with batteries, you’d have more flexibility.

Hitachi seem to be playing an inscrutable game.

This section entitled Powertrain in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, says this about the powertrain for Class 800/801/802 trains.

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.

Hitachi must have found a way to arrange four GUs under a Class 810 train.

  • They could be using slightly smaller engines. Smaller engines could be fitted to curb overheating.
  • The engines might be in pairs under vehicles 2 and 4, possibly sharing utilities like fuel tanks and cooling systems.

But as the vehicles are two metres shorter, it wouldn’t be a shoe-in.

When the trains are to be upgraded to battery electric trains, an appropriate number of GUs would be replaced by batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that both Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway will have trains that can be converted from five-car bi-mode trains into battery-electric trains, with a range of between 55 and 65 miles.

  • As a control engineer, I believe that a battery could be made to be plug compatible with a GU.
  • An extra battery could be placed under vehicle 3, in the spare engine position.

I reckon that Hitachi’s quote of a sixty-five mile range would at 3 kWh per vehicle-mile need about one MWh of batteries.

That is 200 kWh per vehicle, so I feel it should be possible.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Current plans for electrified sections of the MML are as follows.

  • London St. Pancras and Corby – 79.5 miles – Opening December 2020
  • London St. Pancras and Market Harborough – 83 miles – Opening December 2020
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – 15.5 miles – To be built in conjunction with High Speed Two

The gap between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is about 66 miles.

Electrification Islands On The Midland Main Line

As with the ECML, there are several large and smaller stations along the MML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.


In Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge, I came to the conclusion, that the East West Railway (EWR) and the MML, would share electrified tracks through Bedford station.

  • There are also rumours of electrification of the East West Railway, which I wrote about in EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification, after an article in Rail Magazine with the same title.
  • But even so Bedford and Cambridge are only thirty miles apart, which is well within the capability of a battery-electric train.
  • Continuing to the West on the EWR, it is under twenty miles to the electrification at Bletchley on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

It looks to be that battery-electric trains running on the EWR would be able to charge their batteries as they pass through Bedford.

  • It does appear to me, that the EWR chose a route through Bedford that would make this feasible.
  • It would also be relatively easy to electrify the EWR to the East and/or West of Bedford to increase the time using electrification, to fully charge the trains.
  • As Cambridge and Bletchley are around fifty miles apart, this journey between two fully-electrified stations, would be possible for a battery-electric train, especially, if it were able to take a sip of electricity in the possible stops at Bedford and Sandy or St. Neots.

If in the end, it is decided to electrify the EWR, Bedford would surely be a location, with enough power to feed the electrification.


Leicester station is an important station on the MML.

But it would be a difficult station to electrify because of a bridge with limited clearance.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I discussed how the following.

  • Discontinuous electrification through Leicester station.
  • Electrification between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrifying the High Speed Two route between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

Would allow Hitachi Class 810 trains, equipped with batteries to run between London and Sheffield on electric power alone.


East Midlands Parkway

East Midlands Parkway station is nineteen miles North of Leicester station.

This Google Map shows its unique position.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is the eighteenth highest emitter of CO2 in Europe and will surely be closed soon.

But then, a power station, will have a good connection to the National Grid, ensuring there could be plenty of power for electrification, even after the current power station is long gone, as it will surely be replaced by another power station or energy storage.

East Midlands Parkway station is also well-connected.

  • Clay Cross North Junction is 31 miles away.
  • Derby is 10 miles away.
  • Leicester is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 8 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 47 miles away.

It should be possible to reach all these places on battery-power from East Midlands Parkway.

Electrification Between Leicester And East Midlands Parkway

The more I look at this stretch of the MML, the more I feel that this eighteen mile stretch should be electrified to create what could become a linear electrification island.


  • It is a 125 mph multi-track railway across fairly flat countryside.
  • Connecting electrification to the grid is often a problem, but Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is adjacent to East Midlands Parkway station.
  • The section is only eighteen miles long, but this is surely long enough to fully-charge a battery train speeding to and from the capital.
  • There are only four intermediate stations; Syston, Sileby, Barrow-on-Soar and Loughborough.
  • The engineering for gauge clearance and electrification, looks to be no more difficult, than it will be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  • Between Leicester and Market Harborough stations is only sixteen miles.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham is only eight miles, so it would be possible for Nottingham services to run without a charge at Nottingham station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Derby is only ten miles, so it would be possible for Derby services to run without a charge at Derby station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and the shared electrified section with High Speed Two at Clay Cross North Junction is thirty-one miles, so it would be possible for Sheffield services to be run without using diesel, once the shared electrification is complete between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Battery-electric trains between East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction could also use the Erewash Valley Line through Ikeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton.
  • There would be no need to electrify through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills that lies between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, as trains will be speeding through on battery power. Electrifying through this section, might be too much for some people.
  • If the trains can’t switch between battery and overhead electrification power, the changeover can be in Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations. However, I believe that Hitachi’s AT-300 trains can do the changeover at line speed.

The electrification could also be used by other services.

  • Between Corby and Syston North Junction is only thirty-six miles, so it would be possible to run electric services between London St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield via Corby, if the main route were to be blocked by engineering work.
  • Between Peterborough and Syston East Junction is forty-seven miles, so it should be possible to run CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service using battery-electric trains. If the train could leave Leicester with a full battery, both Birmingham New Street and Peterborough should be within range.
  • East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service run for a distance of sixty-one miles via East Midlands Parkway, Nottingham and Newark stations. Electrification between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway, would mean there was just forty-two miles to do on battery power. An electrification island at Lincoln would charge the train for return.

Battery-electric trains with a range of between 55 and 65 miles would really open up the East Midlands to electric services if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway were to be electrified.

London And Sheffield In A Battery-Electric Class 810 Train

This is speculation on my part, but I think this could be how trains run London to Sheffield before 2030.

  • London to Market Harborough – 83 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • Market Harborough to Leicester – 16 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification in Leicester station
  • Leicester to East Midlands Parkway – 19 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • East Midlands Parkway to Clay Cross North Junction – 31 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification at line speed.
  • Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield – 15.5 miles – Using electrification


  1. 118 miles would be run using electrification and 47 miles using battery power.
  2. Battery power has been used to avoid the tricky electrification at Leicester station and along the Derwent Valley.

I don’t believe any of the engineering will be any more difficult, than what has been achieved on the MML in the last year or so.



  • Nottingham station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Nottingham is a large city of over 300,000 people.
  • Nottingham station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Nottingham station has an excellent connection to Nottingham Express Transit.
  • Birmingham New Street is 57 miles away, via Derby and Burton.
  • Burton-on-Trent is 27 miles away.
  • Derby is 16 miles away.
  • Grantham is 23 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 34 miles away.
  • Matlock is 33 miles away.
  • Newark is 17 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 40 miles away.
  • Worksop is 32 miles away.
  • Most of these local services are run by East Midlands Railway, with some services run by Northern and CrossCountry.
  • Some services run back-to-back through Nottingham.

I feel very strongly that if charging is provided in Nottingham, when trains turnback or pass through the station, that many of the local services can be run by battery-electric trains.

Previously, I have shown, that if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway is electrified, then services between London and Nottingham, can be run by battery-electric trains.

There is also a fall-back position at Nottingham, as the local services could be run by hydrogen-powered trains.


Sheffield station would at first glance appear to be very similar to Nottingham.

  • Sheffield station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Sheffield is a large urban area of 700,000 people.
  • Sheffield station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Sheffield station has an excellent connection to the Sheffield Supertram.

But it looks like Sheffield station will see the benefits of electrification the Northern section of the MML from Clay Cross North Junction.

  • The 15.5 miles of electrification will be shared with the Sheffield spur of High Speed Two.
  • Currently, trains take sixteen minutes between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • Electrification and an improved high-speed track will allow faster running, better acceleration and a small saving of time.
  • A Sheffield train will be charged going to and from Sheffield, so will leave Clay Cross North Junction for Derby and the South with full batteries.
  • There must also be opportunities for local trains running between Sheffield and Class Cross Junction North to use the electrification and be run by battery-electric trains.

Current destinations include.

  • Derby is 36 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 19 miles away.
  • Huddersfield is 36 miles away.
  • Leeds is 45 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 49 miles away.
  • Manchester Piccadilly is 42 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40.5 miles away.


  1. Doncaster, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly stations are fully electrified.
  2. Work on electrifying Huddersfield and Leeds will start in a year or so, so Huddersfield will be electrified.
  3. I am firly sure that Lincoln and Nottingham will have enough electrification to recharge and turn trains.
  4. Some routes are partially electrified.

As with Nottingham, I am fairly sure, that local services at Sheffield could be run by battery-electric trains. And the same fall-back of hydrogen-powered trains, would also apply.

Sheffield And Manchester Piccadilly In A Battery-Electric Train


  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, at least five miles of the Hope Valley Line at the Sheffield end will be electrified.
  • It may be prudent to electrify through Totley Tunnel to increase the electrification at Sheffield to ten miles.
  • The route via Stockport is 43 miles long of which nine miles at the Manchester End is electrified.
  • The route via Marple is 42 miles long of which two miles at the Manchester End is electrified.

There would appear to be no problems with running the TransPennine Express service between Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes using battery-electric trains, as from Hazel Grove to Manchester Airport is fully electrified and in the East, they can charge the batteries at Sheffield, Doncaster and a future electrification island at Cleethorpes.

The Northern service between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield could be run using battery-electric trains with some more electrification at the Manchester End or an extended turnback in Manchester Piccadilly.

Transport for Manchester has plans to run improve services at their end of the Hope Valley Line, with tram-trains possible to Glossop and Hadfield.

It would probably be worthwhile to look at the Hope Valley Line to make sure, it has enough future capacity. I would suspect the following could be likely.

  • More electrification.
  • More stations.
  • Battery-electric trains or tram-trains from Manchester to Glossop, Hadfield, New Mills Central, Rose Hill Marple and Sheffield.

I would suspect one solution would be to use more of Merseyrail’s new dual-voltage Class 777 trains, which have a battery capability.

Sheffield And Nottingham In A Battery-Electric Train


  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, 15.5 miles of the route will be electrified.
  • The total length of the route is 40.5 miles.
  • There are intermediate stops at Dronfield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston.
  • Currently, journeys seem to take around 53 minutes.

I think it would be likely that the battery would need to be topped up at Nottingham, but I think a passenger-friendly timetable can be developed.

West Coast Main Line (Avanti West Coast)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line (WCML) is a mainly electrified and with some non-electrified extended routes. Avanti West Coast have chosen Hitachi AT-300 trains to cope with infrastructure.

  • There will be ten seven-car electric trains.
  • There will be thirteen five-car bi-mode trains.

As these trains will be delivered after East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains and East Coast Trains’ Class 803 trains, the following questions must be asked.

  • Will the trains have the redesigned nose of the Class 810 trains?
  • Will the bi-mode trains have four diesel engines (Class 810 trains) or three ( Class 800 trains)?
  • Will the electric trains ordered by First Group companies; Avanti West Coast and East Coast Trains be similar, except for the length?

I would expect Hitachi will want the trains to be as similar as possible for ease of manufacture.

Electrification Islands On The West Coast Main Line

As with the ECML and the MML, there are a couple of large and smaller stations along the WCML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.

Watford Junction

Watford Junction station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

Services around Watford Junction have possibilities to be expanded and improved using battery-electric trains.

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Central station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • East West Railway services will call at Bletchley and not Milton Keynes.
  • There may be a connection between East West Rail and High Speed Two at Calvert station, which is 15 miles away.
  • Milton Keynes will get a service from Aylesbury, which is 22 miles away.

There may be possibilities to link Watford Junction and Milton Keynes via Aylesbury using battery-electric trains to give both places a connection to High Speed Two at a new Calvert station.







April 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London To Novara

I flew from between London City and Milan Linate airports and then it was a coach and train to Novara.

These are the various legs of my journey.

Home To London City Airport

I took the following route.

It took just fifty minutes.

It is my closest airport.

London City Airport to Milan Linate Airport

I flew with British Airways Cityflyer.

  • The Airport was busy and there were delays at security.
  • We left a few minutes late.
  • The plane was an Embraer 190 SR.
  • I had a default aisle seat, but the guy in the window seat didn’t come, so I had room to spread about.
  • Some got a free snack, but they had no gluten-free, so BA gave me an extra water from Thirsty Planet.

I took these pictures during the flight.

The flight was more expensive than easyJet or Ruanair, but more refined and not as expensive as British Airways from Heathrow.

It was a route, I’d use again.

Milan Linate Airport To Milan Centrale Station

This was a five euro transfer in a coach from the airport to Milan Centrale station.

As I’d bought the ticket for the bus from a guy by the baggage reclaim, it was a painless business.

Wikipedia says this about Milan Central station.

Milano Centrale has high speed connections to Turin in the west, Venice via Verona in the east and on the north-south mainline to Bologna, Rome, Naples and Salerno. The Simplon and Gotthard railway lines connect Milano Centrale to Bern and Geneva via Domodossola and Zürich via Chiasso in Switzerland.

The station is also an important stop on the Milan Metro.

Looking up on, it would appear that most major cities in Italy have an hourly direct service to and from Milan Central.

Many are high speed trains, like the French TGV, which are called Freciarossa.

My journey between aiirport and station took forty minutes.

Unless I need a specific train, I rarely buy a ticket until I get to the station in Italy.

You can either go straight on to your destination on the next train, or dump your luggage in the left luggage lockers and take a couple of stops on the Metro to the cathedral to have a quick look at Milan.

Milan Centrale Station To Novara Station

To get to Novara station, I used the hourly express commuter service, that goes to Turin.


  1. The hour’s journey took about an hour and cost me five and a half euros.
  2. My train ran to the timetable.
  3. Usually, you can board a train about fifteen minutes before it leaves.
  4. The Italians paint a lot of rails white. It keeps them cool!

I arrived in Novara about five hours after I took off from London City Airport, so the total journey time coul;d have been under seven hours.


May 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Did Heathrow Back Down?

This article on the BBC is entitled New Elizabeth Line to serve Heathrow’s Terminal 5

A few months ago Heathrow was wanting to charge Crossrail an extortionate price for access to Heathrow and it was also holding out from allowing Crossrail to reach Terminal Five.

They tried all legal means to get Crossrail to cough up for the access to Heathrow, but no court found in their favour. And that includes the most important court of all; the Court of Public Opinion. Many, and Londoners in particular, look upon Heathrow Airports as a greedy bully and perhaps Heathrow decided this was a fight they couldn’t win.

So their only bargaining chip left was Terminal Five and perhaps British Airways had a quiet word.

Passengers complaining about being ripped off by Heathrow Express wouldn’t complain to Heathrow, but to British Airways.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Changing Sides

There is an interesting article in The Sunday Times today, entitled Boris Retreats In Fight Against Third Runway.

Boris is apparently saying he won’t oppose a third runway at Heathrow, so if anything he’s being consistent in changing horses, just as he did with Michael Gove.

But perhaps more surprisingly, Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of IAG, who own BA, is quoted as calling Heathrow a fantasy project, which has been gold-plated and inflated by the owners to maximise their returns, at the expense of the airlines.

The paper also says that Gatwick will build a new runway anyway.

The latter is confirmed in this article on the Sky News web site, which is entitled Gatwick Airport to plan new runway even if Heathrow wins.

Elsewhere in The Sunday Times, there is a story about lawyers preparing their knives and forks for an expensaive dinner on all the arguments.

On top of all this of course, Londoners generally avoid Heathrow, as they prefer to do business with any Airport that treats passengers how they prefer to be treated.

This article on Get West London is entitled Bookmaker installs Gatwick as clear favourite over Heathrow in battle for new runway.

Could we be seeing something unique in the world of airports? A city with two major two-runway airports!

It will be interesting to see if the smart money is being put into commercial property like hotels and offices at Farringdon, where Crossrail and Thameslink cross.

I think that as passengers are much more flexible these days and even eighty-year-olds know how to work the Internet to their advantage, I think that if the Government makes the sensible choice and chooses Gatwick, we’ll see a marketing war, between the two airports, led by innovative airlines.

The major winners could be the passengers.


October 9, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

BA Goes For Landfill Power

Imagine flying in an airliner, that is powered by landfill.

It sounds far-fetched, but according to this report in the Guardian, it could happen. Here’s the introduction.

A delayed project to supply British Airways with jet fuel from converted waste is a step closer after it was announced a location has been found for the GreenSky fuel plant, in Thurrock, Essex.

The GreenSky project will see BA commit to buy all 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel produced at the processing facility for at least 11 years. The plant, operated by Solena Fuels, is to be built by 2017 on the site of the former Coryton oil refinery, creating 150 permanent jobs.

I believe that the key to energy shortages and global warming is technology and that this type of development is something that we should and probably will see more of.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Amazing Interview

Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live interviewed Bill Hagan, who is a retired British Airways pilot this morning about an incident that happened on BA Flight 2069 on the way to Kenya on the 29th December, 2000.

It is an amazing interview and it should be listened to, by anyone, who’s ever flown. You can here it here on this page. Just look for Bill Hagan and 17th March 2014.

March 17, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

How To Do The Snow Delay PR

On the BBC London News, they’ve just had a spokeswoman from South Eastern Trains, apologising for all the delays last night and saying that although some got home late, they all did get home.

They may not be perfect, but at least they had the decency to face the press, which can’t be said for British Airways, who seem to be intent on committing suicide.

January 19, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

British Airways Tries To Commit Suicide

I’m sitting here listening to the radio at one in the morning, as the drama at Heathrow unfolds.

So no-one has been killed and it’s only the usual chaos caused by rather heavy snow and cold weather, that happens about one in four hundred days or so at Heathrow.

These things happen and you have to have a plan for recovery when it does.

In this instance, the following statements have been made on BBC Radio 5 Live, by professional journalists acting on behalf of their listeners and those stuck at Heathrow.

1. Passengers after being stuck on a plane for several hours are finding, the Help Desk has closed.

2. The phone-in Help Desk has also closed.

3. The staff in Terminal 5 have gone home.

4. Baggage is stuck on the plane.

5. Passengers are being given no help to get a hotel.

6. Stephen Nolan was also trying to get British Airways on the phone to his radio program before it closed at one in the morning.  He failed.

The only excuse, British Airways and Heathrow have is that the weather is unprecedented and they can’t get any more staff to the airport.

But where are just a few staff at Heathrow working through a plan to at least sort out the more pressing problems?

It would appear that British Airways and Heathrow, didn’t have any plans to handle such an extreme situation.

So if this weather was unforeseen, why wasn’t their trouble at Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester.  There was a couple of problems at Belfast City and Bristol airports involving low-cost airlines, but nothing on the same proportionate scale.

In fact the problems at Heathrow seem to be centred only on British Airways Terminal 5, with the runways and the other terminals seemingly working without major trouble.

I would argue that all airports and airlines must have disaster plans, after all they are very vulnerable from incidents like a blocked runway or perhaps a strike in a critical area like baggage handling or air traffic control.

Admittedly, there has also been a lot of trouble on the roads. But nothing on the scale of the problems at Terminal 5.

The trains have been affected too, but they generally made the sensible decision to run a reduced timetable and asked people to think twice before travelling. Buzz Aldrin arrived safely in Scotland in good spirits as reported here, although the train might have been thirty minutes late.  But then that is minor compared to the problems at Heathrow.

Sometimes I think, I’ve made two sensible decisions since my stroke; to not drive and not to fly long haul. There are millions of places worth seeing within the UK, Ireland and the nearer parts of Europe.

I just can’t see any point in having all the hassle of a boring long-haul flight!

January 19, 2013 Posted by | News, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments