The Anonymous Widower

Battery Units Planned For Chemnitz – Leipzig Route

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

I have visited Chemnitz and after a visit to the area I wrote Would I Go Back To Dresden, Chemnitz And Leipzig, where I said this.

I enjoyed my two days spent exploring these three cities in the former East Germany. On a properly planned trip, there is a lot to see to satisfy any particular taste.

This picture sums up Chemnitz, which used to be called Karl-Marx-Stadt.

Although, I did get a reasonable gluten-free lunch in a restaurant under the Rathaus, called the Ratskeller.

Summarising the new battery trains, I can say the following.

  • The trains will be eleven three-car battery-powered versions of Alstom’s Coradia Continental multiple-units.
  • They will replace diesel-electric locomotives and coaches.
  • Trains will generally run in pairs.
  • The maximum speed would be increased by 20 kph to 160 kph.
  • The current service takes sixty-five minutes and the new trains will knock six minutes off the time.
  • Batteries will take thirty minutes to charge at Chemnitz and Leipzig.

Note that the route would appear to be just over seventy kilometres and there are stops at .. Bad Lausick, Geithain and Burgstädt.

A few of my thoughts.

Chemnitz And Leipzig


Chemnitz and Leipzig are two of the three largest cities in the German state of Saxony.

  • Chemnitz has a population of around 220,000
  • Leipzig has a population of nearly 600,000
  • The train journey between the two cities takes an hour.

But they only have an hourly train service between them.

Many services of a similar duration in the UK have only hourly services, but there are several that have or aspire to have half-hourly services.

Liverpool and Preston could be an equivalent city-pair in the UK and they currently have a single stopping service every hour.

In the next few years, the following will happen.

  • An express Liverpool and Glasgow service will stop at Preston.
  • A second stopping service will run via Ormskirk.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Germans doubling the frequency between Chemnitz and Leipzig.

Number Of Trains Needed


  • The service will take an hour.
  • Thirty minutes will be needed to charge the batteries at either end of the route.

This means that a round trip will take three hours, so this will mean.

  • Three trains will be needed for the hourly service.
  • Six trains will be needed for a half-hourly service.

If all services are run by pairs of three-car trains, there would be a need for twelve new trains to run the half-hourly service.

So perhaps, the service will be half-hourly, with some trains six-cars and others only three-cars.

Charging Time

The charging time seems a bit long to me, but it is using conventional pantographs, rather than a specialist charging station.

Suppose, by using one of these stations like a Railbaar, that the charging time could be reduced to fifteen minutes, this would reduce the round trip to two and a half hours.

This would mean that five trains would be needed for a half-hourly service.

If all services are run by pairs of three-car trains, there would be a need for ten new trains.

This would leave a spare or allow for one being maintained.


Around the world we will be seeing a lot of current diesel services converted into battery-electric services.

How many services are there like Chemnitz and Leipzig?

  • Around 50-60 miles.
  • Only a few stops.
  • Run by noisy and polluting diesel trains.
  • Operators need more trains to increase the frequency.
  • Operators need new trains to increase the level of customer service.
  • Operators need to run faster services.
  • There are good electricity supplies to charge the trains at both ends.

Here are a few simple examples from the UK.

  • Ashford and Hastings
  • Bidston and Wrexham
  • Cambridge and Ipswich
  • Carlisle and Newcastle
  • Didcot and Oxford
  • Ely and Norwich
  • Ely and Peterborough
  • Fife Circle Line
  • Ormskirk and Preston

Battery-electric trains will be invading the diesel world.



October 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 6 Comments

The Penistone Line And Rotherham Tram-Train Trials

The Penistone Line Tram-Train Trial

The Penistone Line from Sheffield to Barnsley, Penistone and Huddersfield was the line originally selected for the tram-train trial.

In the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said about the tram-train trial.

On 18 March 2008, the Department for Transport released details of a proposal to trial tram-trains on the Penistone Line, the first use of such vehicles in the UK. The trial was to start in 2010 and last for two years. Northern Rail, the operator of passenger services on the line, asked potential manufacturers to tender for the design and construction of five new vehicles, which Northern Rail would subsequently lease. In addition, Network Rail planned to spend £15m modifying track and stations to make them compatible with the new vehicles.

However, it was announced on 15 September 2009 that a city tram-train trial between Rotherham and Sheffield would replace the Penistone Line scheme.

More about the trial is said in this article on Rail News, which is entitled Penistone Line Is Chosen For £24m Tram Trains Trial. In particular, this is said.

One of the biggest initial tasks is to set a specification for the building of the five diesel-electro hybrid tram trains at a cost of £9 million. The trains will have to be equipped with braking systems suitable for on-street running and a Train Protection Warning System which is required for running on lines with ‘heavy’ rail passenger and freight trains.

The article was written in 2008 and Chemnitz hybrid Citylink tram-trains didn’t enter service until 2016.

So was the trial on the Penistone Line a disaster before it even started?

It had the following problems.

  • It was expecting a diesel-electric hybrid tram to be designed and built before 2010.
  • A long distance was involved.
  • The track-work needed to connect to the Sheffield Supertram could have been incredibly complicated.
  • The first all-electric Citylink tram-trains weren’t delivered to Karlsruhe until May 2014, which was seven months late.

For these and other reasons, I think that the decision of the trial to be delayed and to use Rotherham, was a prudent decision.

The Rotherham Tram-Train Trial

Consider these characteristics of the current trial, between Cathedral and Rotherham Psrkgate.

  • The tram-trains are virtually standard Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains, adapted for UK 25 KVAC and painted blue!
  • A simple chord connecting the two systems.
  • A few miles of electrification, that could be powered by either 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Modification of the recently-built Rotherham Central station.
  • Building of a new terminal tram stop at Rotherham Parkgate.

It’s a simple plan, but one that covers a lot of design possibilities and has few, if any, risky elements, that haven’t been done in the UK or Karlsruhe.

The following can be tested.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains on the Sheffield Supertram network and an electrified main line.
  • Passenger entry and exit at Rotherham Central station and all over the Supertram network.
  • Operation under both 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Signalling systems on both tram and main line networks.

The one thing that can’t be tested is a diesel hybrid tram-train as they have in Chemnitz, as they haven’t ordered any!

But if they did want to order some, they could easily be tested between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate.


The original plan to use the Penistone Line and diesel-electric tram-trains was impossible.

Network Rail might have got this one right at the second attempt.

They could even run a UK version of the Chemnitz hybrid tram-train on the test route between Sheffield and Rotherham.


October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Would I Go Back To Dresden, Chemnitz And Leipzig?

I enjoyed my two days spent exploring these three cities in the former East Germany. On a properly planned trip, there is a lot to see to satisfy any particular taste.

I would probably choose Dresden or Leipzig as a base, depending on which was the easiest for you to get to.

An interesting trip would be to perhaps fly to Prague and spend time there, before taking the train to Dresden up the Elbe. After Dresden you could go on to Berlin, from where you could fly home.

Typical journey times are as follows.

Prague to Dresden – 2 hr. 15 min.

Dresden to Chemnitz – 1 hr. 30 min.

Dresden to Leipzig – 1 hr. 30 min.

Dresden to Berlin – 2 hr.

The two shortest routes are double-deck regional trains, so you can relax upstairs and enjoy the countryside. Comfort on these double-deck trains is about the same on say any of the Class 379 trains or similar, that are fairly numerous in the UK. But the on-board train information is generally of a much lower quality than we would accept in the UK.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chemnitz Trams And The Chemnitz Model

Like most German cities Chemnitz has an extensive tram network, which even runs a few vintage trams.

One of the reasons, I went to Chemnitz was that they are extending the system, by using tram-train technology in reverse. Normally in the Karlsruhe model, the city’s trams venture out into the surrounding area, by joining the heavy rail lines. I took pictures of this system, working in Karlsruhe, Kassel and Mulhouse. In Chemnitz, the City-Bahn Chemnitz allows trains to turn into trams at the Hauptbahnhof. In the pictures the red-and-white trams are train-trams.

In some ways the only difference between a train-tram and a tram-train, is whether the original vehicle is based on tram or train technology. But in the end the objective is the same and that is to have a vehicle that is capable of running on both tram and train tracks, with the crash-worthiness of a train. The Germans have ascribed the Chemnitzer model to what they are doing in Chemnitz. This is part of the first psaragraph of the article on the Chemnitzer model.

A special feature of the pilot line of the Chemnitzer model for Stollberg is the low platform height of 20 centimeters above the top of rail , while according to the Railway Construction and Operating Regulations (EBO) in new buildings and conversions actually at least 38 centimeters high platform are required. The vehicles ordered for the 1st stage of the CityLink family have doors with different entry heights, which both the inner city and the railway lines a barrier-free allows passenger access to platforms that are 38 or 55 centimeters high.

It illustrates the tortuous thinking that applies to some tram systems and it would appear tram-train systems. In Sheffield the Class 399 tram-trains will be low-floor , which will be compatible with the Sheffield Supertram, which is worked by trams that are 40% low-floor. But then in Sheffield, they have chosen to run tram-trains on a route where only one station will be shared with heavy rail. So will the trams have different door heights like Chemnitz or some other solution. This article from Rail Engineer explains.

Network Rail will also be building a turn back siding with a tram stop at Parkgate and low level platform extensions to Rotherham Central station.

So it sounds like one section of the platform will be used for trains and a lower one will be used for the tram-trains. It is an arrangement similar to the Clapham Kiss, where passengers walk down the platform to change trains.

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Lunch In Chemnitz

It is probably interesting to compare my lunch in the Ratskeller in Chemnitz with the scraps I scrounged in Middlesbrough a few months ago, on a day when Ipswich lost and the trains screwed me up rotten.

I only had a tuna salad.

I’ve tasted worse, but it lacked a certain tastiness, although it was very unlikely to do me any harm.

At least the menu indicated gluten, which is very difficult to detect in many places in the UK. The German system of a series of letters and numbers would be welcomed here.

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Food, Transport | , | 3 Comments


I wasn’t in Chemnitz long, as there isn’t much to see. But I did walk to the centre from the train station, have a reasonable gluten-free lunch and then get a tram back to the station.

The enormous head of Karl Marx in the main square is a real compliment to his philosophy. I’ve not seen the one in Highgate Cemetery on his grave, but judge for yourself which is the best.

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

An Excursion From Dresden To Chemnitz

I started early and caught an early train to Chemnitz or Karl Marx Stadt as was.

These pictures tell the story of the journey.

Note the following.

1. I took a break on the way out at Freiberg. It looked a pleasant small town in Germany and there’s the Alekto hotel by the station, that is on the Internet. Wikipedia says this about the town.

Its historic town centre has been placed under heritage conservation and is a chosen site for the proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Ore Mountain Mining Region. Until 1969, the town was dominated for around 800 years by the mining and smelting industries. In recent decades it has restructured into a high technology site in the fields of semiconductor manufacture and solar technology, part of Silicon Saxony.

So things are looking up for Freiberg and perhaps in a few years time, it will be a good base from which to explore.

2. The quaintly named Frankenstein Station.

3. It is quite a scenic line and is much more so than the line from Dresden to Leipzip, that I rode the next day.

4. It is undergoing a lot of refurbishment, which judging by the wooden sleepers and some of the other things I saw, hasn’t been done for years.

5. As it’s Germany, all the clocks seem to be working. Network Rail take note!

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment