The Anonymous Widower

Scotland’s New Railway Race

There have been  five railway races involving Scotland over the years.

This article in Rail Engineer is entitled Full Glasgow To Edinburgh Electric Service In July.

The article suggests this could be another railway race with Scotland involved.

In the red corner are the devious English, who are entering a series of redundant Class 365 trains, that nobody else wants.

  • They are thirty-year-old trains
  • They were built by British Rail.
  • To improve their relationship with drivers, WAGN fitted them with cab air-conditioning. Marketing then named them Happy-Train, as the air-conditioning inlet, had given them a smile.
  • It has also been rumoured that their class number was chosen to give the air of year-round reliability.

To gain an advantage, the first train was actually sneaked into Glasgow by road, as no-one was sure that they could fit the routes to Scotland.

To get the trains ready for Scotland, work is being done by the German company; Knorr-Bremse Rail Services at Springburn in Glasgow.

The Scottish entry in the blue corner, is the Hitachi Class 385 train, which is manufactured mainly in Japan and screwed together at Newton-Aycliffe.

Unfortunately, the train was designed for drivers with Asian eyesight and the curved windows in the cabs, give unreliable images at night, with the average Scottish driver, even if they’ve been training hard on Irn-Bru!

It is hoped that new windscreens will be approved for use soon!

So the race is on to see who can get their train into service first.

As to the verdict on which train is better, I think we could be seeing a split decision.

Glasgow will prefer one train and Edinburgh will prefer the other!




June 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

ScotRail Hires In Class 365s For Glasgow-Edinburgh Route

The title of this post, is the same as thsat of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Three Class 365s have been leased by ScotRail, with more to follow. They will be used on an interim basis on the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High route while windscreen modifications are made to Class 385s

The Class 365 trains may have been delivered in 1995, but they are no scrapyard specials.

I recently rode one to Cambridge and although some things are dated, the ride is good and they are 100 mph trains, just like the Class 385 trains.

Wikipedia and others reckon that as many as ten trains will go to Crossrail.

How Do The Trains Compare?

The trains are of different generations but how do they compare?

Train Length

On the major route, between Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is intended to run Class 385 trains as seven-car trains formed by a three-car Class 385/0 train

and a four-car Class 385/1 train. As the cars are twenty-three metres long, that gives a train length of 161 metres.

Each four-car Class 365 train is 81.9 metres long, so an eight-car unit would be  just under 164 metres.

I doubt that three metres would cause too many platform-length problems.


The capacity of a three-car Class 385/0 is 206 seats, so I suspect a four-car Class 385/1 would seat around 275. This would give a total capacity for the seven-car train of 481 seats.

I can’t find the capacity of a Class 365 train, but it has 2 +2 seating and a fair sprinkling of tables, so I suspect the capacity of the two different formations is not that different.

Operating Speed

Both trains have a 100 mph operating speed.

Passenger Comfort

I suspect that the Class 385 trains will be more to the standard ciustomers expect, wth wi-fi and power sockets and probably more tables.

But the Class 365 trains are one of the better 100 mph long-distance commuter trains, rating above Thameslink’s new Class 700 trains and below the Class 387 train.


The Class 365 trains will make quality substitutes.

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

ScotRail’s ‘385s’ Face Further Delay As New Windscreens To Be Fitted

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Hitachi has confirmed to RAIL that new windscreens are to be fitted to ScotRail’s new Class 385s, which are already late entering traffic because of infrastructure problems.

It’s all a bit of a mess.

Hopefully, we’ll see the trains in service soon.

I do wonder, if the communication lines and manufacturing process are a bit long, between Japan and Newton Aycliffe

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Running Electric Trains Across The Forth Bridge

Search for something like Electrification of the Forth Bridge and you find a lot of speculation and no one who.believes it can be done easily.

A ScotRail conductor said very firmly that it wouldn’t be done.

I think that in addition to the engineering problems of electrifying the Forth railway bridge, there will probably be a lot of opposition from the heritage lobby!

I also think, that if you could solve the engineering oroblems, they will.cost a lot and mean closing the bridge for at least several.months.

Bi-Mode Trains

Virgin are proposing to use Class 800 trains, which are bi-mode and will use diesel power on the bridge. These trains will have no problems crossing the bridge.

They will probably even be quieter than the current InterCity 125s, that will be continued to be used by ScotRail.

Trains With Energy Storage

The bridge is not very long at 2.5 km. and an electric train with onboard energy storage could prossibly cross the bridge, if the tracks were electrified as far as the approaches.

So do I think it is possible that a train with onboard energy storage could cross the Forth Bridge?

The Energy Storage Could Be Full Before Crossing

If the overhead electrification reached to perhaps five hundred metres from the bridge, then the onboard storage would be full.

The train would lower the pantograph and then raise it again, when under the wires on the other side.

The Maximum Speed On The Bridge Is 50 mph

This must help.

The Bridge Deck Appears Level

This must help.

Any Train Manufacturer Who Creates A Train With Onboard Energy Storage Will Gain A Worldwide Reputation

There is a lot of scepticism about trains with onboard energy storage or batteries and this would dismiss it for ever, once the crossing was shown on world-wide television with headlines like.

Battery Train Crosses Forth Rail Bridge Carrying Three Hundred Passengers

I believe that any train manufacturer, who felt they could achieve this feat would be willing to have a go, as the rewards would be immense!

Scotland Would Have A Unique Tourist Attraction

Although, I wouldn’t think it would be unique for long, as other countries would do the same to solve transport problems.

But nothing would ever be as iconic as the Forth Bridge!

I also doubt Scotland and ScoRail would say No!

Could A Class 385 Train Cross The Bridge On Stored Power?

In Hitachi Class 385 Trains, Batteries And Charging Stations, I discussed whether batteries or energy storage could be put into a Class 385 train.

I said this after giving details of Hitachi’s battery trains in Japan.

So will Scotrail’s new Class 385 trains have a battery capability?

Probably not initially!

But Hitachi have obviously been doing a lot of research into battery trains and the JR Kyushu is the first practical application.

Scotland’s rail system outside Edinburgh and Glasgow is not electrified, but it is well-known that Scotland’s Government would like more electrified services and also links to places like Leven and St. Andrews.

Both of these places, and there are probably others as well, are a few miles from a main line, that is very likely to be electrified.

So could we see a battery train charged as the JR Kyushu train on a main line, serving these branch lines on battery power?

I feel that the chance of this happening is very high.

So I feel it is highly likely, that if some form of stored power was fitted to Class 385 trains, that they would be able to bridge the gap between electrification systems North and South of the Forth Bridge.

Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

Electrification of the Fife Circle Line would be the simplest way to improve the local rail service from North of the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh.

This shows a map of the line North from Edinburgh Gateway station.

It would need the electrification from Haymarket station through Edinburgh Gateway station to be completed South of the Bridge to an appropriate point on the bridge approach.

North of the Bridge, the circle could be electrified from an appropriate point on the bridge approach, all round the circle to Markinch station.

Running The Fife Circle Service With Class 385 Trains With Onboard Energy Storage

A belt and braces approach might see North Queensferry and Dalmeny stations being the changeover point from overhead to onboard power, so that with any problems, the train is safely in a station, rather than stuck on the bridge.

Currently, the two routes between Glenrothes With Thornton and Edinburgh stations take the following times.

  • Via Kirkaldy – 59 minutes with ten stops.
  • Via Dunfermline – 62 minutes with eleven stops.

This means a train doing a round trip from Edinburgh takes just over two hours with twenty-one stops.

The Class 385 trains will have the following characteristics compared to the current diesel trains on the route.

  • They will be faster.
  • They will accelerate better and have smoother regenerative braking.
  • They  will  have a much shorter dwell time at stations.

It would not be unreasonable to assume that the new electric trains could be several minutes under two hours for the round trip.

Trains that didn’t reverse could also go straight round the circle with the driver only changing ends at Edinburgh.

Currently, the route has three trains per hour (tph), so to run this level of service would require six trains.

Running four tph would need an extra two trains and if two tph used each direction, all stations would have a two tph service.

The trains would only need the ability to run between Dalmeny and North Queensferry stations on onboard storage.

Bi-Mode Trains Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

Virgin Trains East Coast and possibly other operators wlll  be running bi-mode Class 800 trains between Edinburgh and Markinch stations.

They will have to use diesel power where there is no electrification, but if the Fife Circle Line were to be electrified, they could use it, to run the trains more efficiently.

Onward From The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle Line could be a bridgehead to extend electrified services to the North.

Consider these distances.

  • Markinch to St. Andrews  – 20.7 miles
  • Markinch to Dundee – 25.1 miles
  • Markinch to Perth – 22.7 miles
  • Glenrothes to Leven – 7.1 miles

All of these destinations could be reached by a combination of short lengths of electrification and trains with onboard energy storage.

Scotrail’s Extra Ten Class 385 Trains

Scotrail have an extra ten Class 385 trains on option, if the franchise is extended by 7 to 10 years and the trains would enter service in 2023.

Could these trains be to run an electrified Fife Circle Line service and perhaps running to Leven?


Scotrail have some ambitious plans for Scotland’s railways and I wonder, if they include using Class 385 trains with onboard energy storage to get electric trains across the Forth Bridge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Exploring The North Berwick Line

The service between Edinburgh and North Berwick stations is going to be one of the first to get the new Class 385 trains.

So I took a quick trip.

The North Berwick Line appears to be a well-maintained line with tidy, simple stations and copious car-parking.

North Berwick station shows how you can have a single-platform station handling two trains per hour (tph), where both are six cars.

The North Berwick Line is becoming increasingly busy and the six-car train I rode out of Edinburgh at ten in the morning was surprisingly busy.

New Class 385 Trains To North Berwick

The current Class 380 trains were built in 2009-2011, so why are the trains being replaced with Class 385 trains on this route?

Both trains have the following shared characteristics.

  • 100 mph running.
  • Three- or four-cars.
  • Modern interiors.
  • Ability to run in pairs with through gangways.

I think that the big difference is that the newer Hitachi trains will have wi-fi and possibly a 4G connection.

But other than that, the two trains would be interchangeable.

Glasgow To Edinburgh Services

There is also the fact that Abellio seem to be very expansive with the plans for their franchises in the UK.

As some of the North Berwick services start at Glasgow Central station, could it be that Scotrail are planning to use North Berwick as the terminal for a two tph Glasgow Central to Edinburgh via Motherwell service, in addition to all the other services going to Glasgow Queen Street station.

Effectively, by using North Berwick, they gain a much needed extra platform at Edinburgh.

ScotRail might have also decided that all Glasgow to Edinburgh services should be equipped with wi-fi and run by the new Hitachi trains.

Expansion Of Suburban Services East Of Edinburgh

Passenger numbers are rising at North Berwick station and last year there were over half a million passengers.

The single platform handling six-car Class 380 trains can probably handle several hundred passengers an hour.

But look at this Google Map of the station.

Is there enough car parking for this number of passengers?

When it is considered that with modern signalling, it might even be possible to inrease the frquency to North Berwick to three or even four tph, the platform would cope, but routes to the station probsbly wouldn’t.

There have been proposals to reopen a station at East Linton, a few miles away on the East Coast Main Line. In the Wikipedia entry for the station, this is said under The Future.

Proposals to reopen the station, along with the former station at Reston, have received the backing of John Lamont MSP, who has taken the case to the Scottish Parliament. A study published in 2013 proposed that East Linton and Reston stations be reopened. Since Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise in April 2015, they have now committed to reopening East Linton and Reston Stations as part of the local Berwick service by December 2016 but due to the shortage of rolling stock this will now commence in December 2018.

As now the extra trains are being delivered, a station at East Linton must be increasingly possible.

Would a rebuilt Reston station be used as a terminus?

This Google Map shows the village of Reston with the A1 and the East Coast Main Line.

Could Reston station be rebuilt as a Park-and-Ride station with perhaps a bay platform for suburban services from Edinburgh?


  • Space doesn’t seem to be a problem.
  • Drivers from the South and West might be tempted to abandon their cars and use the train.
  • Reston could be a terminus for Glasgow to Edinburgh services.

Scotrail certainly have possibilities to develop an electric service between Edinburgh and Glasgow, that is a lot more than just a simple link between the two major cities.


The electrified Edinburgh to Glasgow service could develop into a fast and frequent Crossrail For Scotland.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Could Hitachi Produce A Bi-Mode Class 385 Train?

Before I start, I’ll ask a simple question.

Is It Advantageous To A Train Operating Company (TOC) To Have Electric And Bi-Mode Versions Of The Same Train?

Their are two pairs of electric and bi-mode train types in the IK.

As the latter was specified jointly by a TOC and a ROSCO, I’m sure that it is advantageous for two closely-related versions to exist.

Hitachi’s New Trains

Hitachi will soon have four of their new train types in service in the UK.

Class 800 Trains – Electro-Diesel

Class 800 trains will soon be in service with Great Western Railway. The July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways says this.

The RMT union’s National Executive Committee has accepted Great Western Railway’s latest offer detailing the operational procedures proposed for the new Inter-City Express (IEP) due to start entering service in October.

So if that it is an affirmative, trains could be running by the end of the year!

Class 801 Trains – Electric Only

Class 801 trains will soon be in service with Virgin Trains East Coast. Wikipedia says service entry is planned to be 2017, but there is nothing definite on the Internet.

Although the new trains did make the cover of the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Note the headline of Azuma’s Are Coming!

I suspect though, that Sir Richard Branson will hate to be seen to have his trains in service after Great Western Railway.

Class 802 Trains – Electro-Diesel

Class 802 trains are just a version of the Class 800 trains, built not in Newton Aycliffe, but in Pistoia in Italy.

The July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways reports that two pre-production trains built in Japan arrived in the UK in June for testing, so the in-service date of December 2018 quoted in Wikipedia, should be achieved.

Modern Railways says this about the trains.

A key element in enabling fast delivery and subsequent entry into service is that the Class 802 trains are technically very similar to the IEP (Class 800/801) trains on order for both Great Western and East Coast services, featuring the same design of seats, kitchens and most components. Hitachi expects this to reduce significantly the time required for approvals prior to operational service. Key technical differences to the earlier lass 800 trains are different engine management software, enabling higher power output (700kW) from the MTU diesel power packs fitted with larger 120-litre urea (emission control) tanks.

Other features include larger fuel tanks, more powerful brakes and special features to cope with sea water spray at Dawlish.

Class 385 Trains – Electric Only

Class 385 trains are the babies of the four trains, being intended for Scottish routes between and around Edinburgh and Glasgow. Wikipedia gives an in-service date of December 2017.

Hitachi Have A Lot To Digest

Hitachi have the following trains on order for delivery by the end of 2019.

  • 46 x 3-car Class 385 trains
  • 24 x 4 -car Class 385 trains
  • 46 x 5-car Class 800 trains
  • 34 x 9-car Class 800 trains
  • 12 x 5-car Class 801 trains
  • 30 x 9-car Class 801 trains
  • 46 x 5-car Class 802 trains
  • 14 x 9-car Class 802 trains

That is a total of 252 trains involving a total of 1,456 carriages, which will have been built in three difference factories.

But at least they are all based on the same Hitachi A-train concept!

The Design Of The Class 80x Train

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I did more than discuss the posed question.

I looked at the overall concept of the trains, as discussed in this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which dates from 2014 and is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

Reading the document in detail, I discovered the following facts.

  • The 80x trains are effectively Plug-and-Play and automatically detect the configuration of a train, be it a single unit or two coupled together.
  • Train length can be adjusted between five and twelve cars, by just adding or removing  trailer or motor cars.
  • In certain situations like train recovery, train length can be up to 24-cars.
  • Coupling and uncoupling of two trains takes less than two minutes.
  • Passengers are counted automatically. By a tiny Japanese robot walking up and down?
  • Trains can be locomotive-hauled.
  • The all-electric Class 801 train has at least one diesel power-pack per train for hotel power and emergency recovery in case of complete power failure.

The big omission is any talk of how regenerative braking is handled.

I have come to the conclusion, that the energy returned from the traction motors on braking goes through the APS (auxiliary power supply) to be used as hotel power, with any spare energy being stored using the battery charger in an appropriately-sized battery.

As a life-expired Control Engineer, I still know enough to realise that there is scope for a really intelligent control system, which takes note of myriad inputs to run the train in the most energy-efficient manner.

Inputs could include.

  • Train position from GPS.
  • Train route and terrain.
  • Outside weather conditions
  • Passenger load and expected journey patterns.
  • Signalling and other train issues.
  • Is electrification available?
  • How much fuel is on board?

The train could be driven against the following.

  • Minimum use of the diesel engines.
  • Maintaining an appropriate level of power in the batteries.
  • Optimal station stopping and restarting profiles.
  • Driving to the terrain.

But probably most importantly, the trains will make sure they stick to the timetable.

Driving trains will be going through the revolution that flying planes went through some decades ago, where the pilots’ roles became much more of a supervisory one. But , of course they were there for emergencies or unexpected situations.

So How Do The Class 385 Trains Compare?

There is a document on the Hitachi web site, which is entitled Development of Class 385 Semi-customised/Standard Commuter Rolling Stock for Global Markets, which gives insights into Hitachi’s thinking.

This is the introduction.

The Class 385 is based on the AT-200, which was developed for global markets with the aim of providing flexibility of configuration while making maximum use of standardisation. It is a semi-customised model of a type common in global markets, with fewer components and greater standardisation of components achieved by adopting the “mother design” developed for the AT-300 (a typical example of which is the Class 800) and competitive lead times achieved by shortening the specification-setting process.

Note the close relationship between the Class 385 and Class 800 trains.

The Hitachi document gives a schematic of the Class 385 traction system.

Compared with that given for the Class 80x train, it is a lot simpler, with each bogie having its own converter unit. This is to allow both the three-car and four-car trains to have similar electrical layouts, that is easily modified for the shorter train, which has a smaller number of traction motors to save one and a half tonnes.

The document also says this.

The Class 385 uses the same main electrical components as the AT-300. However, the following electrical systems were adopted for use in the Class 385.

It then describes how the traction, brake and door systems have been modified.

In this Hitachi promotional video, power sockets and wi-fi are promised.

So where is the auxiliary power supply to power all these features and how is regenerative braking handled.

In the data sheet for the AT-200 train on the Hitachi web site, the following details are given.

  • Three to twelve cars.
  • 100 to 125 mph operating speed.
  •  Dual Voltage (25KVAC / 750 VDC / Battery)

As the Class 385 train is a member of the AT-200 family, could it be that like the Class 80x, it has similar electrical layout to the larger train?

So I have come to the conclusion that the regenerative braking energy goes to a battery, that is used to provide hotel power.

How Big Would A Battery For A Class 385 Train Need To Be?

In How Big Would Batteries Need To Be On A Train For Regenerative Braking?, I work through the calculation of the kinetic energy in a four-car Class 710 train, which would be Bombardier’s equivalent to a Class 385 train.

I said this.

To calculate the kinetic energy in the train, which will have to be transferred to the battery, we need the mass of the train and its velocity.

I’ll start with the velocity of the train.

As it approached a station, it will be at whatever is the appropriate line speed, which to make things easy I’ll assume is 100 kph or just under 28 metres per second.

In most cases after stopping and discharging and loading a few passengers, it will probably return to a similar line-speed to go to the following station.

The mass of each car of an Aventra, is found at several places on the Internet, including this entry in Wikipedia iwhich gives it as 30-35 tonnes. So the four-car Class 710 train could have a mass of 130 tonnes. Add 100 passengers at an average of 80 kg. each and this would make the mass 138 tonnes

Applying the standard formula gives a kinetic energy of 53240741 joules or in common-or-garden units 14.8 kilowatt hours. So the energy of an Aventra going at 100 kph could power a one bar electric fire for fifteen hours.

If you take the battery in one of London’s Routemaster buses, that has a capacity of 75 kWH.

As the specification for an Hitachi At-200 includes a battery option, fitting has probably been engineered.

Could A Diesel Powerpack Be Fitted Underneath A Class 385 Train?

I can only suppose that just as the Class 801 train has an diesel generator under one car, that the Hitachi design for the AT-200 train has provision for this feature in case an operator requires it.

If as I believe the Class 385 train has a similar electrical layout to the Class 80x trains, then incorporating a small diesel generator would not be a major redesign of the train.

But having a Bi-Mode Class 385 train might clinch a few sales.

Would A Bi-Mode Class 385 Train Have Uses?

There is no use building a train, that doesn’t have any uses.

The Class 385 train has been built with very careful considerable for weight. The design document says this.

Railway businesses in the UK include ROSCOs, TOCs, and track maintenance and management companies.

The TOCs pay fees, called track access charges, which are based on the weight of rolling stock and the distance travelled, and are obliged to pay the track maintenance and management company for the electrical power consumed in train operation. Because lighter trains put less load on the track, they incur lower track access charges. As lighter trains also consume less electrical power, there was strong demand from the TOC to make the rolling stock lighter, right from the pre-contract stage.

So if the bi-mode version of the Class 385 is a bit heavier because of the diesel powerpack, the train will be more expensive to run, which is probably acceptable to the TOC.

Looking at Scottish rail routes, there are several services in the area between Edinburgh and Glasgow, which will be run on partially-electrified lines.


Due to the modular nature of these Hitachi trains, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is possible to fit a small diesel power pack under a Class 385 train.







July 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?

I ask this question, because I think that it could be key to the announcements about electrification yesterday, as reported  in this article in Global Rail News, which is entitled UK Ditches Electrification Plans In Wales, The Midlands And The North.

If you look at all these Wikipedia entries for Hitachi trains being built for the UK.

You will find no reference to regenerative braking.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The only mention of the R-word is in this paragraph.

An RGS-compliant integrated on-train data recorder (OTDR) and juridical recording unit (JRU), and an EN-compliant energy
meter to record energy consumption and regeneration are fitted to the train.

If you search for brake in the document, you find this paragraph.

In addition to the GU, other components installed under the floor of drive cars include the traction converter, fuel tank, fire protection system, and brake system.

Note that GU stands for generator unit.

Traction System

I will start by having a detailed look at the traction system as described in the document.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

This is said in the text.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

This is all very comprehensive.

But nothing is said about how regenerative brake currents from the traction motors are handled.

Any trained Control Engineer, of which I’m a life-expired example, can see all sorts of questions to ask.

  • Could it be that all regenerative brake currents are fed into the Auxiliary Power Supply and then used for hotel power and to charge the battery?
  • Is the generator unit switched on and off by a sophisticated control system, that uses GPS, train velocity, train weight battery level etc.
  • We know battery power can move the train in emergency, but is battery power used to help start the train?
  • How big is that mysterious battery?

In 2010, I wrote Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, after taking a memorable trip.

One memory of that trip is of the skill of the driver as he adjusted the twin throttles of the power cars and used the brakes, as the train travelled up hill and down dale.

This line will be Class 800 territory and I suspect that it will be worked by two five car units working as a ten-car train.

As I think that each five-car unit will have three generator units, does this mean that the driver will have six throttles?

Control Engineering has moved on in the forty years since the InterCity 125 entered service and I suspect that like an Airline Pilot, the driver of a Class 800 train, will have little control about how power is delivered. Except probably in a supervisory role.

So on routes like the Highland Main Line, the Class 800 will come into its own, using the generator units and stored energy as appropriate.

Obviously, the less the generator unit is used the better, as this minimises noise and vibration, and cuts carbon emissions.

Other features in the train design have been disclosed.

All Class 801 Trains Have At Least One Generator Unit

All Class 801 trains have at least one GU (generator unit), so it can obviously provide hotel power and probably enough power to limp to the next station, in case of overhead line failure.

Third Rail Class 800/801 Trains Are Possible

The layout of the traction system surely makes a third rail  or even a dual-voltage version of the trains possible.

After all, their cousin; the Class 395 train is a dual voltage train.

Locomotive Haulage Is Possible

As I said, the specification is comprehensive.

The document is also forthcoming in other areas.

Train Configuration

This is said.

Trains have a unit configuration of up to 12 cars, including the ability to add or remove standardised intermediate cars and the generator units (GUs)
(generators with diesel engines) needed to operate commercial services on non-electrified lines.

So if say GWR wanted an eleven-car train, it would be possible.

Automatic Coupling And Uncoupling

This is said.

Because the coupling or uncoupling of cars in a trainset occurs during commercial service at an intermediate station, the automatic coupling device is able to perform this operation in less than 2 minutes.

This is definitely in line with Class 395 train performance.

Automatic Train Identification Function

This is said.

To simplify the rearrangement and management of train configurations, functions are provided for identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically determining the cars in the trainset and its total length, and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in
normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

I suspect most modern trains can do this.

One Twelve-Car Train Can Rescue Another

See the previous extract.

Flexible Interior Layout

This is said.

The rolling stock is designed to facilitate changes to the interior layout to accommodate changes to services or to the number of cars in the train.

I suspect that was expected.

An Interim Conclusion

In answer to the question, I posed with this post, I suspect that the answer is in the affirmative.

Extra Evidence

I also found this article on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Hybrid Propulsion with a sub-title of Energy-saving hybrid propulsion system using storage–battery technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

As a step toward producing environmentally friendly propulsion systems, Hitachi has supplied a hybrid propulsion system that combines an engine generator, motor, and storage batteries. This system provides regenerative braking which has not been previously possible on conventional diesel-powered trains, and enables increased energy savings via regenerated energy.

They list the advantages as.

  1. 10% improvement of fuel consumption
  2. 60% reduction of the hazardous substances in engine exhaust
  3. 30db reduction of noise in stopping at the station

They also give various links that are worth reading.

All of these pages seem to have been published in 2013.


I will be very surprised if Class 800/801/802 trains don’t have batteries.

Will the Class 385 trains for ScotRail have similar traction system?


July 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 12 Comments

Faster Trains For Slower In Scotland

In my analysis of the Kentish routes in Kent On The Cusp Of Change, I wrote a post called Elimination Of Slow Trains.

In the post, I said that the 75 mph Class 465 trains, were slowing services and reducing capacity, based on an article called Kent on the Cusp of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

I proposed a minimum specification for trains on Kentish routes.

  • 100 mph capability
  • Designed for a fast station stop with minimum dwell-time
  • Regenerative braking
  • Efficient traction motors
  • Wi-fi in all classes
  • The capability to fit boosters for 4G signals.

Southeastern’s Class 465 trains fail on all points.

In Scotland, there is a new batch of Class 385 trains on order to work the new electrified services between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Under Operation in the Wikipedia entry for the trains, this is said.

The new trains will also operate on the newly electrified Croy, Dunblane and Shotts lines as well as replacing existing stock on the currently electrified Carstairs, North Berwick and Cathcart Circle Lines. This will allow for the replacement of ScotRail’s Class 314 fleet, and allow for the cascading of a number of Class 156, Class 158 and Class 170 units.

The Class 314 trains are even older and less capable than Southeastern’s Class 465 trains.

So what will be effect on services in Scotland, where the Class 385 trains replace the Class 314 trains?

If you look at the North Berwick Line trains between Edinburgh and North Berwick stations take around 33-34 minutes, when run by 100 mph Class 380 trains. Under Rolling Stock in the Wikipedia entry for the North Berwick Line, this is said.

From December 2017, ScotRail services on the North Berwick Line will begin to use new Class 385 units. Services will be formed of six coaches (two 3-car units) following growing passenger numbers (the platform at North Berwick was extended in early 2016 to accommodate these new longer trains). In the short term Class 380/1s (four car) will be removed from the line and two Class 380/0s (three car) used instead until the Summer and back again to four car units until December. Once the new units arrive, The Class 380 units will be cascaded to increase capacity on the Ayrshire and Inverclyde Lines to and from Glasgow making all services on these routes operated by Class 380s.

So could it be that although both Class 380 and 385 trains are 100 mph units, the newer trains have a better station stop performance, which enables the timings on the line to be reduced and possibly allow the doubling of frequency of trains to two trains per hour?


Modern 100 mph trains with the ability to execute fast stops at stations are good for operators and passengers alike.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Hitachi Class 385 Trains, Batteries And Charging Stations

This article in the International Railway Journal is entitled JR Kyushu battery EMU to enter service in October.

This is said.

JAPAN’s Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) announced on August 24 that its pre-series Dual Energy Charge Train (Dencha) battery-assisted EMU will enter revenue service on the 11km Orio – Wakamatsu section of the Chikuho Line on October 19.

The two-car 819 series set draws power from the 20 kV ac 60Hz electrification system to feed a bank of onboard batteries, which give the train a wire-free range of up to 90km.

At least it can do 11 km. This is said about the train’s manufacture.

The 819 series is based on the existing 817 series EMU and was built by Hitachi at its plant in Kudamatsu in Yamaguchi prefecture.

Note the word Hitachi!

Hitachi call it a BEC819 train and it is one of their ubiquitous A-trains.

On the Hitachi Rail Europe web site, three new trains are mentioned.

All are A-trains and on all pages, the word battery is mentioned under power supply.

So will Scotrail’s new Class 385 trains have a battery capability?

Probably not initially!

But Hitachi have obviously been doing a lot of research into battery trains and the JR Kyushu is the first practical application.

Scotland’s rail system outside Edinburgh and Glasgow is not electrified, but it is well-known that Scotland’s Government would like more electrified services and also links to places like Leven and St. Andrews.

Both of these places, and there are probably others as well, are a few miles from a main line, that is very likely to be electrified.

So could we see a battery train charged as the JR Kyushu train on a main line, serving these branch lines on battery power?

I feel that the chance of this happening is very high.

Put a charging station, like a Railbaar at the terminal station and it could be done as soon as the train is built.


April 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Four-Car Bi-Mode Train

The Class 319 Flex train is an affordable four-car bi-mode or electro-diesel train, promoted by Porterbrook and to be used by Northern.

  • The train is affordable, as it is based on a refurbished Class 319 train, which was built thirty years ago.
  • The train is a dual-voltage unit and can be powered by either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Each unit also has two rail-proven MAN diesel engines, for powering the train on lines without electrification.

If there is a drawback, it is that with their interiors so far, Northern have opted for a no-frills interior with no wi-fi.

Compare this with the interior of a Class 455 train.

The trains were originally built within a couple of years, but the updated interior specified by South West Trains is much more impressive and passenger-friendly than that used by Northern.

Both trains are four-car units and are based on the Mark  3 coach, so underneath the skin, they probably have a lot in common.

There are a large number of four-car trains on UK railways so it must be a train length that is convenient for operators.

But strangely until now there has not been a four-car bi-mode train.

But then bi-mode trains are not that common, with the only UK train of that type; the Class 800 train, yet to enter service.

But the Class 800 train is for the long distance market and is a five-car or nine-car 125 mph train.

I do wonder, if the reason we have no four-car bi-mode trains, is that no-one has bothered to design one so no-one has wanted one.

But Porterbrook own 86 of these Class 319 trains, which are reliable 100 mph trains, that drivers tell me they like, because of their performance and excellent brakes.

Because of their age, they’re probably not worth a great deal more than scrap value, but because of the depth of knowledge of what can be done with Mark 3 coaches, they can be turned into a useful train by quality engineering.

Porterbrook have seen a gap in the market with Northern for a train specifically designed to be able to handle their toughest route, which is Manchester Piccadilly to Buxtonup the very steep Buxton Line. But the train is no one-trick pony and can run on virtually any of Northern’s routes, whether they are electrified or not.

So Northern can use the train for a variety of purposes.

  • Running services on routes, that are not fully electrified.
  • New route development.
  • Extension of existing electrified routes.
  • Replacement of a failed unit, which could be electric or diesel

Northern will have two versions of the Class 319 train; electric and bi-mode, just like other train operating companies will have electric and bi-mode versions of the Class 800 train.

I suspect that to passengers and all train staff except the driver, there will not be many obvious differences between the two versions.

Some routes will probably be able to be served by both versions.

The Bombardier Aventra

I feel very much that the Aventra will have one or more independently-powered versions.

The Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have improved the concept.

Perhaps instead of a power storage device, they could squeeze in a small diesel engine and an alternator.

I’ve believed for a long time, that the Class 710 train being built by Bombardier for the London Overground, has onboard energy storage and that I wouldn’t be surprised if it used the storage to capture energy from regenerative braking, just as a lot of hybrid vehicles, like a London Routemaster and a Toyota Prius.

It won’t be a high-power bi-mode like the Class 319 Flex train, but it could have a useful range on the stored energy.

But it will be an all-electric train and probably more energy-efficient.

Other Four-Car Bi-Modes

I can’t believe that other train manufacturers are not looking at various forms of bi-mode trains.

Hitachi make the Class 800 trains at Newton Aycliffe, where they also make the four-car Class 385 train for ScotRail.

And what about Alstom, CAF, Siemens and Stadler?

What About Five Cars?

Four-car trains mean that operators can run eight and twelve car trains, when they are convenient. But other companies prefer five-car and ten-car trains.

We have the Class 800 trains, which are a 125 mph bi-mode, but we don’t have a five-car bi-mode suburban trundler. A few would surely be useful for Southern to handle Uckfield and the Marshlink Line.

I also believe that Greater Anglia’s five-car Aventras could have the limited independent capacity given by onboard energy storage.

I suspect that what the train operators need, the train operators will get!


We will see a complete spectrum of bi-mode four-car trains. And a few fuve-cars too!

, o

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment