The Anonymous Widower

Cumbrian Coast’s Coal Comeback?

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 874 of Rail Magazine.

When I saw this article, I thought it was rather surprising, as coal is rather the arch-demon to environmentalists.

But this is not about coal for producing electricity, but metallurgical coal, that will be used in steelmaking.

West Cumbria Mining are proposing the mine and ofn their web site, the following is said.

West Cumbria Mining is investing in developing plans for the creation of a metallurgical coal mine off the coast near Whitehaven in West Cumbria to supply the UK and European steel-making coal market, which currently imports around 45 million tonnes per annum.

I would assume the 45 million tonnes refers to the total of the UK and European markets. S there is certainly a large market to supply, if the price is right.

Woodhouse Colliery

This extract describes how the mine will be created.

Woodhouse Colliery would be created using the access tunnels to old anhydrite workings at the former Sandwith Drift Mine, on the edge of Whitehaven. Until 2004, the site was occupied by the Marchon chemical works.

Studies have determined that sufficient coal reserves could be accessed to sustain mining operations for at least 50 years.

This picture was taken from their web site.

It doesn’t look to be a stereotypical coal mine.

Much of the coal would appear to be mined offshore.

Use Of The Railway

This extract talks about the use of the Cumbrian Coast Line, that passes through Whitehaven.

One of the things that actually makes the project realistic and viable is that we have access to existing infrastructure. There are lots of projects where actually the biggest capital cost is the infrastructure required. We have to remove everything by rail – one: because of the volume of material; but two: we wouldn’t be able to get planning if it was a road solution.

An agreement has been reached with Freightliner to transport the coal to Redcar. With the mine in full production, six trains per day would operate Monday-Friday.

More details about the rail transport are also given.

  • There would be a single-track siding for loading.
  • The siding would be connected to the mine by a 1.4 mile coal conveyor.
  • Everything is covered, so there no dust and gas.
  • The loading will be in an acoustically-closed building.
  • Trains will have 23 wagons.
  • Class 66 or Class 70 locomotives will be used.

It does appear that they are designing most things to a high standard.

These days, if planning permission with conditions is given, the conditions are usually adhered to, as sanctions are now easier to apply through the Courts.

I do have a few thoughts.

Route Between Whitehaven And Redcar

Trains would probably go via Carlisle, Newcastle and Middlesbrough

There would not be much electrification on the route, except for on the East Coast Main Line.

I would estimate that trains would take around three hours between the Woodhouse Colliery and Redcar

Rolling Stock

The article states that the wagons would be a dedicated fleet for the operation.

Surely, they could be designed for fast and quiet operation.


I feel that locomotives that meet the latest European regulations should be used. Class 66 locomotives do not, Class 68 locomotives do!

I also feel that in the next five years or so, more environmentally-friend;y and quieter locomotives will become available.

Improving The Cumbrian Coast Line

The article describes how the Cumbrian Coast Line will be improved if the mine gets Planning Permission.


If we are going to continue to make and use steel in the UK and Europe, it looks like this mine could create wealth in a part of the UK that needs it, without causing too many negatives.

It’s an interesting project.




March 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Where Is Moorside?

Moorside is the name given to NuGen‘s new nuclear power complex in Cumbria.

I was drawn to write this post, by this article in Construction News, which is entitled Network Rail and Moorside nuclear power plant developer Nugen are putting together a business case for rail investment in Cumbria that could be worth as much as £400m.

four hundred million pounds could buy a lot of rail infrastructure.

But where exactly is Moorside?

This map was taken from the Our Site page on the NuGen web site, showsthe Moorside site outlined in red.


Note the development with the yellow-shaded areas to the South-East of the red-lined area. This is Sellafield.

And this is a Google Map of the coast around the nuclear reprocessing complex.


Note the railway stations along the coast. Sellafield station is by the nuclear complex, with Braystones and Nethertown to the North.

All three stations are on the Cumbrian Coast Line, which in addition to the passenger service, is used to transport freight, including nuclear waste to and from Sellafield.

Overlaying the NuGen map on the Coogle Map shows that Moorside will be to the North-West of Sellafield.

The Cumbrian Coast Line and the related Furness Line curve around Cumbria from Carlisle to Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven, Sellafield and Barrow-in-Furness.

  • The line is mainly double track, but with sections of single-track.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • Most of the trains are elderly diesels.
  • The train service is vaguely hourly, but patchy in places.

The nuclear power complex is a ten billion pound project and will require large amounts of heavy equipment and construction materials to be transported the site. Also on a daily basis, large numbers of engineers and construction workers wilol need to get to one of the largest construction sites in the North of England.

Is Network Rail’s £400 million proposed vdevelopment, a reconstruction of the Cumbrian Coast and Furness Lines to the following standard.

  • Double track.
  • Electrification
  • 100 mph line speed where possible.
  • Build a new station at Moorside and any other places, where they are needed.
  • Step-free stations
  • At least two trains per hour in both directions.
  • Full wi-fi and 4G on all trains and in stations.

Upgraded to a high standard, it might do more than help construction at Moorside and Sellafield and those that work in the two complexes.

  • It might increase quality tourism.
  • It could be a diversion route for the West Coast Main Line.
  • It might make a London service to Barrow-in-Firness via HS2 a possibility.

Network Rail’s project could do a lot more than service the twin nuclear sites.

I explored the Cumbrian Coast Line in April 2015.

Click here to see my posts.



February 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

From Sellafield To Carlisle

I continued up the Cumbrian Coast Line to Carlisle taking pictures as I went.

Note that in some of the pictures, you can actually see the Isle of Man. Or I could on the train!

The Cumbrian Coast Line can’t be the easiest line in the country on which to make money, but according to this article on the Northern Rail web site, they are adding extra trains to Sellafield. So at least they’re trying.

Although there are some large employers along the line, surely such a picturesque line should be able to get extra passengers like families and walkers, who might want to spend time in the area. One factor going in their favour is the extra services out of Preston to Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool. These will make it easier to get people to the line, especially if they ran decent trains on the line, with perhaps a trolley.

At least the line is a Community Rail Line and their web site is

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

From Ravenglass To Sellafield

After lunch, I continued up the Cumbrian Coast Line towards Carlisle and these are pictures I took between Ravenglass and Sellafield stations.

You get good views of the coast and also the Sellafield nuclear facility.

As I get older, I’m getting more and more sceptical the value of nuclear power.

There are so many things that we think are commonplace today, that in fifty years time will be laughed at by our descendants.

Nuclear power could be one of those things that will be no longer used for power generation, except possibly as a last resort.

I’m not worried about safety, but I believe that the expense of generating nuclear power and disposing of the spent fuel, will mean that other simpler and less-worrying for some methods of generating electricity for our needs. I don’t think wind will be promoted as much as it is now, as something better will come along.

We’ll still need plants like Sellafield, as we’ll be keeping some plants running and decommissioning others. This Google Earth image gives an idea of the size of the facility.



I just wonder what Sellafield would be like today, if the River Severn had been barraged around fifty years ago, as was proposed by Sir Frederick Snow.


April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Ravenglass Station And The Ratty Arms

My choice of Ravenglass station for a pit-stop was a good one, as I was able to get a simple baked potato well-filled with tuna mayonnaise at the Ratty Arms.

The one problem was that there was no train information or mobile signal at the station. But in the end it didn’t matter as the train arrived at the appointed time on the time-table.

To get a better feel of Ravenglass station and the area it serves, this is the Google Earth image of the area.

Ravenglass Station

Ravenglass Station

Note how the Cumbrian Coast Line crosses the River Esk on a viaduct and the Ravenglass amd Eskdale Railway, which has a terminus at the station, curves away up the valley.

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

From Barrow-in-Furness To Ravenglass

After a brief walk around the town I returned to Barrow-in-Furness station and swapped my smart Class 185 train and headed north to Carlisle on the Cumbrian Coast Line in a more basic Class 156 train.

I was hungry so as there was another train an hour behind, I got off at Ravenglass station to search out some lunch.

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment