The Anonymous Widower

Did Adrian Shooter Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?

This article with a video in the Scotsman is entitled Video: Battery Trains On Track To Cut Emissions and gives a lot of information about the Class 230 train. This is a paragraph.

The train is restricted to a 25mph speed on this week’s test trips, but Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter says it can sustain speeds of “60 mph for 40 miles” when new batteries become available next year.

Moreover, the batteries need just four minutes to recharge.

So what does this mean for the various routes?

Borderlands Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Borderlands Line.

The line runs between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations is around twenty-seven miles and takes an hour. There is a generous turnround time at both ends in the current schedule.

This Google Map shows the layout of the two-platform station at Bidston.

This picture shows the red-roofed shed in the middle of the island platform, with the tracks on either side.

Would it be sensible to add a dedicated bay platform at Bidston for charging the battery trains?

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Wrexham Central and then do the following.

  • Run to Bidston on battery power.
  • Turnround at Bidston, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Run back to Wrexham Central on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the thirteen intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long runs the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Chester To Crewe Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Chester to Crewe Line.

It runs between Chester and Crewe stations, is around twenty miles long and services take about twenty minutes.

As there are no stations between Chester and Crewe and the maximum speed of the Class 230 train is sixty mph, it looks like the train will be almost at maximum speed  along this route.

So will the four diesel engines be working hard?

When these trains were built in the 1980s, I doubt that anybody thought they’d be running services on a section of the North Wales Coast Line.

Conwy Valley Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Conwy Valley Line.

It runs between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations, is around thirty miles long and services take eighty minutes to ascend and seventy to come down.

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Llandudno and then do the following.

  • Ascend to Blaenau Ffestiniog on battery power, with help from the diesel engines.
  • Turnround at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Descend to Llandudno on battery power, with help from gravity.
  • The descent would be controlled by regenerative braking.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the eleven intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long ascent the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Greenford Branch

What do you do with a problem like the Greenford Branch?

In Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?, I looked at the possibility of using the proposed Class 165 Hydrive trains to provide a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Greenford Branch.

This was my conclusion.

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

That well-designed battery-train has arrived in the shape of the Class 230 train.

Island Line

It appears likely, that Class 230 trains will be ordered for the Island Line.

It runs between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin stations, is under nine miles long and a typical round trip is as follows.

  • Shanklin to Ryde Pier Head – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Ryde Pier Head – 20 minutes
  • Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Shanklin – 5 minutes

The Island Line has an operating speed of just 45 mph.

Adding all that up, I would estimate that a train doing a round trip would do under twenty miles at a maximum speed of 45 mph.

Adrian Shooter said that the trains will be able to store 2,400 miles² /hour, whereas the Island Line would use only 900 miles² /hour in a round trip. They may be weird units, you won’t find in any text book, but I want to prove if something is possible or not.

It looks like it most definitely is possible for a battery-powered Class 230 train to perform a round trip on one charge of of the batteries.

Suppose though, the line was reinstated to Ventnor station, as a  line without electrification. A quick estimate gives the round-trip as thirty miles, which would need  1350 miles² /hour.

There could even be a second charging station at Ventnor.

Could we see a future Island Line like this?

  • No electrification.
  • Extension to a new Ventnor station.
  • A passing loop at Brading station.
  • Battery trains.
  • Relaid track for very gentle curves and high efficiency.
  • Charging stations at Ryde Pier Head and Ventnor stations.

I suspect with some faster running, where it is possible and perhaps one diesel power pack per train, three-car Class 230 trains could run a two tph service.

This type of service would not be unique for long, as other places would quickly copy.

Marston Vale Line

West Midlands Trains have ordered Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line.

It runs between Bedford and Bletchley stations, is around twenty-four miles long and services appear to take about forty-five minutes, with a turn-round time of well over four minutes.

So it would seem that each leg of a return journey would be less than forty miles and there would be sufficient time for a full four-minute charge at either end.

The regenerative braking would be useful in handling the eleven stops.


It isn’t one cat!

It’s a whole destruction, glorying or nuisance of felines!




October 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Class 230 Trains On The Conwy Valley Line

I suspect to some people, the use of Class 230 trains, which are rebuilt London Underground D78 Stock on the Conwy Valley Line is a challenge to far.

Class 230 Trains

I wrote about these trains in First D-Train With Transport for Wales In March 2019, where I stated that the train formation will be.

  • DM – Driving Motor with battery
  • T – Trailer with four generators
  • DM – Driving Motor with battery

As the trains will have regenerative braking, this will be used to help charge the batteries.

Note that batteries and traction motors are only in the Driving Motor cars.

The Conwy Valley Line

The route of the single-track Conwy Valley Line can be summsarised as follows.

  • From Llandudno to Llanrwst it is a fairly level route alongside the River Conwy.
  • From Llanwrst the line climbs to a 240 metre summit in the Ffestiniog tunnel, with gradients as steep as 1-in-47.
  • From the summit, the train descends into Blaenau Ffestiniog with gradients as steep as 1-in-43.

It has some of the characteristics of a roller-coaster.

Class 230 Trains On The Conwy Valley Line

Provided the trains can handle the gradients either side of the summit, they can just roll down the other side. During the descent, the regenerative braking will charge the batteries.

This will have the following effects.

  • Trains on the downhill sections will not need to use their diesel engines.
  • Trains waiting in Blaenau Ffestiniog station, won’t need to use their diesel engines until they start back to Llandudno.
  • I suspect some Northbound services, trains would be able to reach Llandudno without using their diesel engines.

Gravity is being used as an energy store to create an efficient railway!

Energy Of A Class 230 Train On The Conwy Valley Line

I am curious to know how much energy is needed to get a fully-loaded train up the hill from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Consider the following.

  • A D78 Driving Motor car weighs 27.5 tonnes
  • A D78 Trailer car weighs 19 tonnes
  • Wikipedia says “For the Country layout, each D-train unit is to be a three-car formation, which would accommodate 163 seats along with a total capacity of 291.”
  • I assume each passenger weighs 90 Kg with baggage, buggies and bicycles.
  • I think it is fair to say that each generator and battery weighs about a tonne.
  • The summit of the line in the Ffestiniog Tunnel is 240 metres above sea level.
  • I will assume that the coastal end of the route is at sea level.

This means that the empty train weighs eighty tonnes and a full load of passengers weighs twenty-six tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator, this gives a potential energy for the train of seventy kWh, at the summit with a full load of passengers.

This figure means that if two 55 kWh batteries from a New Routemaster bus were used on the train and they were fully-charged, then they could power the train to the summit and on to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

It should be noted that Vivarail talk about using 106 kWh battery rafts on the Class 230 train.

A Few Questions

I have these questions.

Are These Class 230 Trains Serial Hybrids?

I ask this question, as it could be key to making the operation of the trains more efficient on this line.

The train would always be powered directly from the batteries.

  • The diesel engines would cut in to charge the batteries, when the battery charge level got to a certain low level.
  • The diesel engines would cut out, when the battery charge level, got to a certain high level.

As the train has four generator sets, an appropriate number could be used as required.

A well-trained driver or an intelligent control system could make these trains very efficient.

In this article on RAIL Magazine, this is stated.

Shooter told RAIL that the trains will save around 20% on fuel consumption.

Adrian Shooter is Chairman of Vivarail, who are creating the Class 230 trains.

Possible Electrification Of The Ffestiniog Tunnel

The Class 230 trains are created from London Underground D78 Stock and I suspect it would be possible for the Class 230 trains to be powered by third-rail electrification.

The Ffestiniog Tunnel is the summit of the Conwy Valley Line.

  • It is a single-track.
  • It is 3.5 kilometres long.
  • One end of the tunnel is close to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Would it be a sensible idea to electrify the tunnel either fully or partially, to top up the batteries?


  • The third-rail electrification would be no intrusion in the landscape.
  • The electrification could only be switched on when a train is present.
  • I don’t think supplying power would be difficult.
  • There could be less need to run on diesel.

The electrification could even be extended to wards Blaenau Ffestiniog station, so that trains leaving the station could have electrical power to climb to the summit.

Will The Class 230 Trains Attract Passengers?

I think that the Class 230 trains have several passenger-friendly features.

  • All new interiors.
  • Ten percent more seats and almost twice the capacity.
  • Lots of space for bicycles
  • Large windows
  • Wi-fi and power sockets
  • Accessible toilet

Hopefully, there will also be step-free access between train and platform.

This package of improvements should encourage more to travel.

I also suspect, that having a decent train with a novelty appeal that connects to the Ffestiniog Railway will tap a new market of travellers.


I have no doubt, that Class 230 trains will be able to provide a successful service on the Conwy Valley Line.





July 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Blaenau Ffestiniog Station

Blaenau Ffestiniog station is the interchange between the Conwy Valley Line and the Ffestiniog Railway.

Note that as my train arrived from Llandudno, there was a Ffestiniog Railway train to take travellers to Porthmadog.

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales under Improvements.

Invest to co-fund new station buildings at Blaenau Ffestiniog


  • The Conwy Valley Line is scheduled to be run by new Class 230 trains from mid-2019.
  • According to Wikipedia, there have been steam workings up the Conwy Valley Line.
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a run-around loop to put a locomotive on the other end of a train.
  • The Halton Curve will open in December 2018, allowing direct and faster trains between Liverpool and Llandudno.

It would appear Transport for Wales are pulling out all the stops to bring tourists and employment to Blaenau Ffestiniog.


July 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments