The Anonymous Widower

Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Mining company Roy Hill has ordered a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric heavy-haul freight locomotive. This will replace one the four ES44ACi diesel-electric locos used to haul its 2 700 m long iron ore trains, and is expected to reduce fuel costs and emissions by ‘double digit’ percentages while also cutting maintenance costs.

The locomotive is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. It will have a capacity of 7 MWh, an upgrade from the 2·4 MWh prototype which Wabtec and BNSF tested in revenue service in California earlier this year.


  1. It will have a 7 MWh battery.
  2. 2700 metres is 1.6 miles.

It looks to me, that the three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive are arranged as a massive hybrid locomotive and I suspect that with sophisticated control systems, those double digit cuts in fuel costs and emissions would be possible.

A couple of years ago, I took this picture near Shenfield.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

  • The Class 90 locomotive has an TDM system for multiple working.
  • The Class 66 locomotive has an AAR system for multiple working.

So does this mean that the two locomotives can’t work together, which if it does begs the question of what is happening.

  • Had the Class 66 locomotive failed and Class 90 was acting as a Thunderbird?
  • Was the Class 66 locomotive being moved from one depot to another for maintenance or repair?
  • Was it an experiment to see if the two locomotives could work together?

I sometimes think that I didn’t see this unusual formation, but then the camera doesn’t lie.

But could we learn from what Wabtec are doing for Roy Hill in Australia?

The Class 93 Locomotive

Rail Operations Group have already ordered thirty Class 93 tri-mode locomotives from Stadler, which have following power ratings.

  • Electric – 4000 kW
  • Diesel – 900 kW
  • Hybrid – 1300 kW

If this locomotive is capable of hauling the heaviest intermodal freight trains out of Felixstowe, Southampton and other ports and freight terminals, it could contribute to substantial  reductions in the diesel fuel used and emissions.

As an example, I will use a freight train between Felixstowe North Terminal and Trafford Park Euro Terminal.

  • It is a route of 280 miles.
  • I will ignore that it goes along the North London Line through North London and along the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • There is fifteen miles without electrification at the  Felixstowe end.
  • There is under three miles without electrification at the  Manchester end.

On this service , it could be as much as 94 % of diesel and emissions are saved, if the Class 93 locomotive can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe. A few miles of strategically-placed electrification at the Ipswich end would help, if required.

It must also be born in mind, that the Class 93 locomotive is a 110 mph locomotive on electric power and could probably do the following.

  • Run at 100 mph on the busy Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Run at faster speeds on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Fit in well with the 100 mph passenger trains, that run on both routes.

So not only does it save diesel and carbon emissions, but it will save time and make the freight train easier to timetable on a route with lots of 100 mph passenger trains.

The Class 93 locomotive looks like it could be a game-changer for long-distance intermodal freight, especially, if there were short sections of strategically-placed electrification, added to the electrified network.

Emissions could also be reduced further by using some for of sustainable fuel.

The picture shows a Class 66 locomotive, which is powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil  or HVO.

I can see that all diesel-powered trains and locomotives will be powered by sustainable fuels by the end of this decade.

A Wabtec Battery-Electric Locomotive

Wabtec is building a battery-electric locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

This article on Railway Age talks about Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery locomotives and describes some features of the locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

It mentions pantographs and overhead wires to charge the batteries.

  • Wabtec’s prototype battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 2.4 MWh
  • The Roy Hill battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 7 MWh

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power.

I think this locomotive could handle these routes.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster via the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln, with some form of charging at halfway.
  • Felixstowe and Nuneaton, with some extra electrification at some point between Peterborough and Leicester.
  • Oxford and Birmingham, with possibly some extra electrification in the middle.

One option for charging electrification, would surely be to electrify passing loops.

I think a battery-electric locomtive based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology could be a very useful locomotive.

Could Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive Pair-Up With A Class 66 Locomotive?

Roy Hill will use their locomotive to form a consist of three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive to obtain double-digit savings of fuel and emissions, when hauling iron-ore trains that are 1.6 miles long on a route of 214 miles.

We don’t have massive iron-ore trains like this, but we do move huge quantities of segregates and stone around the country in trains generally hauled by Class 66 locomotives.

So could a Class 66 or another suitable locomotive be paired-up with a battery-electric locomotive to make savings of fuel and emissions?

I would suggest that if it works in Australia, the technology will probably work in the UK.

The biggest problem for Wabtec is that the heavy end of the market may well be a good one for hydrogen-powered locomotives. But Wabtec are going down that route too!


I am convinced that the two decarbonisation routes I have outlined here are viable for the UK.

But I also feel that locomotive manufacturers will produce hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Other companies like Alstom, Siemens and Talgo will also offer innovative solutions.






September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Improving The Cross Country Route

The Cross Country Route is one of the UK’s forgotten railway lines.

  • It runs between York and Bristol Temple Meads.
  • Intermediate stations include Leeds, Wakefield Westgate, Rotherham Central, Meadowhall, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby, Burton-on-Trent, Tamworth, Birmingham New Street, University, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway.
  • At the Northern end trains can swap to the electrified East Coast Main Line and can extend services to Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
  • At the Southern end trains can swap to the Great Western Main Line and extend services to Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance.
  • Trains can also swap to the South Wales Main Line in the Bristol area, to serve Cardiff and South Wales.
  • Operating speeds are generally around 100 mph, but there are sections of 125 mph running.
  • Some sections of the route have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

I very much believe that it is a route that is ripe for improvement.

These are my thoughts.

Extra And Rebuilt Stations

Recently, Worcestershire Parkway station has been opened on the route.

Bromsgrove station was rebuilt and reopened in 2016.

Derby station was remodelled in 2018.

In addition, there are aspirations for other mew stations and station improvements on the route.

I can see more station improvements and additions on the Cross Country Route.

New Trains

Most services are run by CrossCountry, who only use diesel trains.

Their core services are as follows.

Plymouth And Edinburgh uses the route between York and Bristol Temple Meads. The service runs under wires North of Leeds and at Bristol Parkway and at Birmingham New Street.

Southampton Central And Newcastle uses the route between York and Birmingham New Street. The service runs under wires North of Leeds and at Reading and at Birmingham New Street.

Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly uses the route at Birmingham New Street. The service runs under wires North of Birmingham New Street.

Bristol Temple Meads and Manchester Piccadilly uses the route between Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street. The service runs under wires at Bristol Parkway and North of Birmingham New Street.

Cardiff Central and Nottingham uses the route between Gloucester and Derby. The service runs under the wires West of Bristol Parkway and at Birmingham New Street.

Birmingham New Street and Nottingham uses the route between Birmingham New Street and Derby. The service runs under the wires at Birmingham New Street.

Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport does not use the route. The service runs under the wires at Birmingham New Street and around Cambridge and Peterborough.

Birmingham New Street and Leicester does not use the route. The service runs under the wires at Birmingham New Street.


  1. Several services run under wires for sufficient time to charge a battery-electric train.
  2. Several services turn in stations for sufficient time to charge a battery-electric train.
  3. At least six or possibly seven of the services run for at least fifty miles on tracks that can handle 125 mph running. Some of this track will be upgraded to 140 mph with digital signalling.

This Hitachi infographic shows the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

I believe that Hitachi could produce a version of this train, that would partially meet CrossCountry’s need for a new fleet to reduce their carbon footprint.

For the purpose of this analysis, I will assume this about the trains.

  • Battery power will always be used in stations.
  • The trains have a battery range of around forty miles at 100 mph.
  • Running at 125 mph will need 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

This table shows the current electrification status of the Cross Country Route.

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Birmingham New Street – 96.6 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles- Not Electrified

The trains would appear to still need to use diesel on some parts of the route.

Or Hitachi ABB Power Grids could install short lengths of 25 KVAC overhead electrification to top up the trains’ batteries in appropriate places.

I believe CrossCountry could decarbonise this route using battery-electric trains and discontinuous electrification.

This would surely refresh the line and attract passengers, but would the trains speed up the service?

  • Birmingham New Street and Leeds is 116.4 miles and currently takes just under two hours at an average speed of 59.3 mph in a Class 221 train.
  • Several sections of line between Birmingham New Street and Leeds can sustain 125 mph running.
  • London Liverpool Street and Norwich is 114.5 miles and has regularly been achieved by British Rail-era electric trains in ninety minutes on a 100 mph line, which is an average speed of 76 mph.
  • Averaging 76 mph between Birmingham New Street and Leeds would give a time of 92 minutes.

For these and other reasons, I am fairly sure that a battery-electric train capable of running at 125 mph with fast acceleration could run between Birmingham New Street and Leeds in under ninety minutes, with the addition of some discontinuous electrification.

  • There is currently one tph between Birmingham New Street and Leeds, which also serves Sheffield.
  • There is also one tph between Birmingham New Street and Sheffield by a different route.
  • There is two tph between Birmingham New Street and Nottingham.
  • My calculations indicate that the Nottingham and Sheffield services would take under an hour to and from Birmingham New Street, with the Leeds service taking thirty minutes longer.

In normal circumstances no diesel would be used.

Track Improvements And Discontinuous Electrification

This table shows the current electrification status of the Cross Country Route.

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Birmingham New Street – 96.6 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles – Not Electrified

Solutions will have to be found to decarbonise a lot of the route.

I have flown my virtual helicopter from Tamworth to Sheffield and this part of the route seems to the sort of route that could be upgraded to a full 125 mph line, as it is fairly straight and some sections already allow trains to travel at this speed.

As the 15.5 miles between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield will be updated and electrified for High Speed Two’s spur into Sheffield sometime in the future, I would feel that as updating this section benefits High Speed Two, the Midland Main Line, the Cross Country Route and the Hope Valley Line, that this section should be rebuilt as necessary and electrified, as soon as is practically possible.

I believe that Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield is one of the most important routes in the country to be electrified, if not the most important.

This table shows the electrification status of the Cross Country Route after electrification of Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Sheffield – 18.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Sheffield and Clay Cross North junction – 15.5 miles – Electrified
  • Clay Cross North junction and Birmingham New Street – 62.1 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles – Not Electrified

It looks that by electrifying the 15.5 miles between Sheffield and Clay Cross North junction, the gap of 18.8 miles between South Kirby junction and Sheffield could be easily bridged by a battery-electric train.

The section between Clay Cross North junction and Birmingham New Street can be split into three.

  • Clay Cross North junction and Derby – 20.9 miles
  • Derby and Tamworth – 23.9 miles
  • Tamworth and Birmingham New Street – 17.3 miles

If Hitachi ABB Power Grids installed discontinuous electrification at Derby and Tamworth, this should bridge the gap to the electrification at Birmingham.

As some of this section can sustain 125 mph running, it may be better to fully electrify part of the route.

This table shows the electrification status of the route would become

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Sheffield – 18.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Sheffield and Clay Cross North junction – 15.5 miles – Electrified
  • Clay Cross North junction and Derby – 20.9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Derby and Tamworth – 23.9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Tamworth and Birmingham New Street – 17.3 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles – Not Electrified

I have also flown my virtual helicopter from Bromsgrove to Westerleigh junction, where the Cross Country Route joins the electrified Great Western Main Line, about 4.5 miles East of Bristol Parkway station.

It looks to me that this Southern short section of electrified line would be able to charge a battery-electric train so that it could reach Bristol Temple Meads station.

But the sixty-plus miles of route without electrification between Bromsgrove and Westerleigh junction would be too far to travel without some electrification.

This could either be full electrification or discontinuous using the methods proposed by Hitachi ABB Power Grids.

It certainly looks to me, that Hitachi’s technology or similar, that I talked about in Solving The Electrification Conundrum could be used to run battery-electric trains between York and Bristol Temple Meads on the Cross Country Route.

Digital Signalling

I would assume this will be installed on the route, to give more precise control of trains on the more complicated sections of the route.

East Coast Main Line Improvements

There are several improvements to the North of York, that will reduce journey times on all services using the East Coast Main Line.

These could contribute time saving of up to ten minutes, according to High Speed Two’s Journey Planner and current timetables.

Comparison With The Proposed Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two

With all the talk about possible cancellation of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two could an improved Cross Country Route be used in the interim?

I will look at a few timings from Birmingham.

Birmingham And Leeds

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming forty-nine minutes, as against the one hour and fifty-eight minutes today.

I have stated that ninety minutes is an attainable time on a 116.4 mile journey, where a good proportion of 125 mph running will be possible, sustained by electrification.

But with full electrification, more 125 mph running and even some 140 mph running under the control of digital signalling, I suspect that ninety minutes is only an upper limit to the journey time between Birmingham and Leeds.

High Speed Two are saying they will run two tph between Birmingham and Leeds, which is twice the current frequency.

I could see that an improved frequency on the Cross Country Route could be very convenient, if it increased the frequency between the two cities to four tph.

Is it going to annoy passengers, that services will leave from two different stations in Birmingham and if you go to the wrong one, you’ll have to wait thirty minutes for the next train?

Birmingham And Middlesbrough

Times between Birmingham and Middlesbrough will be determined by adding a Leeds and Middlesbrough time to the Birmingham and Leeds times.

The best time between Leeds and Middlesbrough today is one hour and 23 minutes, which I suspect will lose a few minutes due to East Coast Main Line improvements North of York.

This gives using High Speed Two to Leeds a time of two hours and eight minutes, as against two hours and forty-nine minutes using an improved Cross Country Route.

Birmingham And Newcastle

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming one hour and  fifty-seven minutes, as against the three hours and twenty-six minutes today.

Based on the current and possible times between Birmingham at Leeds using CrossCountry, I feel times to stations North of Leeds will be reduced by at least twenty-eight minutes, putting the Birmingham and Newcastle time a few minutes under three hours.

Birmingham And Nottingham

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming twenty minutes to East Midlands Hub, which when adding in the tram to Nottingham City Centre will be thirty-five minutes..

,Current services are one hour and ten minutes today.

On an improved Cross Country Route, with with battery-electric trains and some 125 mph running, I can see this time shrink to under an hour, even with the reverse at Derby.

Midlands Connect are also proposing a high speed service between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham station, which will take thirty-three minutes.

High Speed Two are saying they will run three tph between Birmingham and East Midlands Hub, which compares with two tph using the Cross Country Route.

Birmingham And Sheffield

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming fifty-seven minutes, as against the one hour and fifteen minutes today.

I have stated that an hour is an attainable time on this route, with battery-electric trains and some 125 mph running.

A time of an hour would be very competitive with the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

High Speed Two are saying they will run two tph between Birmingham and Sheffield with a change at East Midlands Hub, which compares with two tph using the Cross Country Route.


A fully developed East Coast Main Line will give High Speed Two a good run for its money on services between London and Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland. I indicated my thoughts and conclusions in What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?.

I also believe that an improved Cross Country Route could give the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two a very good run for its money.

Perhaps, we should safeguard the route of Eastern Leg of High Speed Two for building later to increase capacity when it is needed, but in the interim we should upgrade the following routes.

  • Cross Country Route
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • West Coast Main Line

These routes should have at least these minimum standards.

  • All passenger trains electric or battery-electric.
  • All freight locomotives electric, battery-electric or hydrogen-electric.
  • Where possible all lines should allow 125 mph running.
  • Universal in-cab digital signalling
  • There should be sections of 140 mph running, where possible.

We will need the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two in the future, but we don’t need it in the next few years.






August 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thoughts On The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two

These are a few thoughts on the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Serving The North-East Quarter Of England From London

In Anxiety Over HS2 Eastern Leg Future, I gave a table of timings from London to towns and cities in the North-East quarter of England from Lincoln and Nottingham Northwards.

I’ll repeat it here.

  • Bradford – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-four minutes
  • Cleethorpes – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-one minutes
  • Darlington – One hour and forty-nine minutes – One hour and forty-nine minutes
  • Doncaster – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour
  • Edinburgh – Three hours and forty minutes via Western Leg – Three hours and thirty minutes.
  • Grimsby – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty-six minutes
  • Harrogate – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-two minutes
  • Huddersfield – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and eight minutes
  • Hull – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Leeds – One hour and twenty-one minutes – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Lincoln – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-one minutes
  • Middlesbrough – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and twenty minutes
  • Newcastle – Two hours and seventeen minutes – Two hours and sixteen minutes
  • Nottingham – One hour and seven minutes – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Scarborough – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-seven minutes
  • Sheffield – One hour and twenty-seven minutes – One hour and twenty-seven minutes
  • Skipton – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and seven minutes
  • Sunderland – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty minutes
  • York – One hour and twenty-four minutes – One hour and twenty-four minutes


  1. I have included all destinations served by Grand Central, Hull Trains and LNER.
  2. I have included Nottingham and Sheffield for completeness and in case whilst electrification is installed on the Midland Main Line, LNER run services to the two cities.
  3. I suspect LNER services to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton will split and join at Leeds.

There are a total of nineteen destination in this table.

  • Twelve are not served by High Speed Two.
  • Six are not more than fifteen minutes slower by the East Coast Main Line.

Only Nottingham is substantially quicker by High Speed Two.

Serving The North-East Quarter Of England From Birmingham

Fenland Scouser felt the above table might be interesting to and from Birmingham with or without the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

I think, I can give more information than that and it should be possible to give for each destination the following.

  • Whether of not the route exists on High Speed Two.
  • Time on High Speed Two from Birmingham.
  • Time on High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail from Birmingham via Manchester
  • Time by current trains from Birmingham

In the following table, the fields are in the order of the previous table.

  • Bradford – No direct route – No time – One hour and three minutes – Two hours and twenty-seven minutes
  • Cleethorpes – No direct route – No time – Three hours and eight minutes – Three hours and eighteen minutes
  • Darlington – Route Exists – One hour and twenty-three minutes – One hour and forty minutes – Two hours and fifty-five minutes
  • Doncaster – No direct route – No time – One hour and thirty-six minutes – Two hours and nineteen minutes
  • Edinburgh- Route Exists – Three hours and fourteen minutes – Four hours – Four hours and thirteen minutes
  • Grimsby – No direct route – No time – Two hours and fifty-three minutes – Three hours and three minutes
  • Harrogate – No direct route – No time – One hour and twenty-eight minutes – Three hours
  • Huddersfield – No direct route – No time – Fifty-six minutes – Two hours and eleven minutes
  • Hull – No direct route – No time – One hour and forty-four minutes – Three hours and two minutes
  • Leeds – Route Exists – Forty-nine minutes – One hour and six minutes – One hour and fifty-nine minutes
  • Lincoln – No direct route – No time – Two hours and fifty-three minutes – Two hours and thirteen minutes
  • Middlesbrough – No direct route – No time – Two hours and twenty-nine minutes – Three hours and thirty-two minutes
  • Newcastle – No direct route – No time – Two hours and four minutes – Three hours and twenty-six minutes
  • Nottingham – Route Exists – Fifty-seven minutes – Two hours and fifty-five minutes – One hour and ten minutes
  • Sheffield – Route Exists – Thirty-five minutes – One hour and thirty-four minutes – One hour and fifteen minutes
  • Skipton – No direct route – No time – One hour and forty-three minutes – Two hours and fifty-two minutes
  • Sunderland – No direct route – No time – Two hours and fifty-nine minutes – Three hours and fifty-eight minutes
  • York – Route Exists – Fifty-seven minutes – One hour and twenty-eight minutes – Two hours and twenty-seven minutes


  1. No time means just that!
  2. One of the crucial times is that Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds is just an hour and six minutes via High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail. This time gives good times to all destinations served from Leeds.
  3. Nottingham and Sheffield are both around an hour and fifteen minutes from Birmingham New Street, by the current trains.

I’ll now look at some routes in detail.

Birmingham And Leeds

The time of one hour and six minutes is derived from the following.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly by High Speed Two – Forty-one minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds by Northern Powerhouse Rail – Twenty-five minutes

It would be seventeen minutes slower than the direct time of forty-nine minutes.

But it is quicker than the current time of one hour and fifty-nine minutes


  1. As Manchester Piccadilly will have a time to and from London of one hour and eleven minutes, Leeds will have a time of one hour and twenty-six minutes to London via Northern Powerhouse Rail and Manchester.
  2. If the Eastern Leg is built, The London and Leeds time will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.
  3. The Eastern Leg would therefore save just five minutes.

The Northern Powerhouse route could probably mean that Huddersfield, Bradford and Hull would be served by High Speed Two from London.

Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds would be connected by a tunnel deep under the Pennines.

  • Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Bradford could be underground platforms added to existing stations.
  • Piccadilly and Leeds would have a journey time of under 25 minutes and six trains per hour (tph).
  • The tunnel would also carry freight.
  • It would be modelled on the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.

I wrote full details in Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore?

Birmingham And Nottingham

The time of two hours and fifty-five minutes is derived from the following.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly by High Speed Two – Forty-one minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds by Northern Powerhouse Rail – Twenty-five minutes
  • Leeds and Nottingham – One hour and forty-nine minutes

It would be one hour and fifty-eight minutes slower than the direct time of fifty-nine minutes.

The current time of one hour and ten minutes is much quicker.

Birmingham And Sheffield

The time of two hours and thirty-four minutes is derived from the following.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly by High Speed Two – Forty-one minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds by Northern Powerhouse Rail – Twenty-five minutes
  • Leeds and Sheffield – One hour and twenty-eight minutes

It would be one hour and fifty-nine minutes slower than the direct time of thirty-five minutes.

The current time of one hour and fifteen minutes is much quicker.

Conclusions On The Timings

I am led to the following conclusions on the timings.

The building of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two gives the fastest times between Birmingham and Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

But if the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is not built, then the following is true, if Northern Powerhouse Rail is created between Manchester and Leeds.

The time of an hour and six minutes between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds is probably an acceptable time.

This time probably enables  acceptable times between Birmingham Curzon Street and destinations North of Leeds.

But with Nottingham and Sheffield the current CrossCountry service is faster than the route via Manchester.

The speed of the CrossCountry services surprised me, but then there is a section of 125 mph running between Derby and Birmingham, which is used by CrossCountry services between Birmingham New Street and Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

This table gives details of these services.

  • Birmingham New Street and Leeds – 116,4 miles – One hour and 58 minutes – 59.3 mph
  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham – 57.2 miles – One hour and 14 minutes – 46.4 mph
  • Birmingham New Street and Sheffield – 77.6 miles – One hour and 18 minutes – 59.7 mph


  1. The Leeds and Sheffield services are run by 125 mph Class 220 trains.
  2. The Notting service is run by 100 mph Class 170 trains.
  3. All trains are diesel-powered.

As there is 125 mph running between Derby and Birmingham, the train performance probably accounts for the slower average speed of the Nottingham service.

CrossCountry And Decarbonisation


  • CrossCountry has an all-diesel fleet.
  • All train companies in the UK are planning on decarbonising.
  • Some of CrossCountry’s routes are partially electrified and have sections where 125 mph running is possible.

The only standard train that is built in the UK that would fit CrossCountry’s requirements, would appear to be one of Hitachi’s 125 mph trains like a bi-mode Class 802 train.

  • These trains are available in various lengths
  • Hitachi will be testing battery packs in the trains in the next year, with the aim of entering service in 2023.
  • Hitachi have formed a company with ABB, which is called Hitachi ABB Power Grids to develop and install discontinuous electrification.

When CrossCountry do replace their fleet and run 125 mph trains on these services several stations will be connected to Birmingham for High Speed Two.

The route between Leeds and Birmingham via Sheffield is part of the Cross Country Route, for which electrification appears to have planned in the 1960s according to a section in Wikipedia called Abortive British Rail Proposals For Complete Electrification,

I suspect that the following times could be achieved with a frequency of two tph

  • Birmingham New Street and Leeds – 90 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham – 60 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street and Sheffield – 60 minutes

It is not the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two, but it could do in the interim.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I don’t believe that the Midland Main Line needs full electrification to speed up services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, but I believe that by fitting batteries to Hitachi’s Class 810 trains, that will soon be running on the line and using the Hitachi ABB Power Grids system of discontinuous electrification, that the route can be decarbonised.

I would also apply full digital in-cab signalling to the Midland Main Line.


We will need the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two at some time in the future, but if we do the following we can do more than cope.

  • Create Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester and Leeds, so that High Speed Two can serve Leeds and Hull via Manchester.
  • Decarbonise CrossCountry with some 125 mph battery-electric trains.
  • Electrify the Midland Main Line.

I would also deliver as much as possible before Phase 1 and 2a of High Speed Two opens.


August 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

LNER To Serve Cleethorpes

Under the proposed new LNER timetable, which will start in May 2022, there will be a new train service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

According to this article on the Lincolnite, which is entitled Direct Cleethorpes To London Rail Link ‘Close’ To Getting Go Ahead, there will be one service per day.

It will leave Cleethorpes at 06:24 and Grimsby Town at 06:32 before arriving at King’s Cross at 09:25.

The return will leave King’s Cross at 16:10 and arrive in Grimsby Town at 19:05 and Cleethorpes at 19:20.

The August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways makes these points about the service.

  • The larger Azuma fleet makes this extension possible.
  • ,A more regular service would require additional trains.
  • LNER is examining whether other intermediate stations east of Lincoln could be served.

I would have thought, that Market Rasen station could be a possibility for an intermediate stop.

I have a few thoughts.

Extra Services

This single service is ideal for though living in Lincolnshire, but it doesn’t suit those people, who perhaps need to go to the area from London for business or family reasons.

  • Lincoln appears to get around five or six trains per day in each direction to and from King’s Cross.
  • Services are roughly one train per two hours.
  • I suspect the Lincoln service can be run by a single train, that shuttles between King’s Cross and Lincoln stations.

I believe, that Cleethorpes needs at least a pair of services to and from London, so that travellers can spend a day in North-East Lincolnshire.

  • This would probably need more trains.
  • Services would go via Lincoln and Lincoln may get extra services to London.
  • Selected services could stop at intermediate stations, like Market Rasen.

There are surely possibilities for a integrated timetable between King’s Cross and Lincoln, Market Rasen, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes.

Battery-Electric Operation


  • LNER’s Class 800 trains are prime candidates for conversion to Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains, so they can run away from the overhead wires of the East Coast Main Line to places like Lincoln, by the use of battery power.
  • These battery trains could charge using the electrification between King’s Cross and Newark North Gate stations.
  • The distance between Lincoln Central station and the East Coast Main Line is 16.6 miles.
  • In Plans To Introduce Battery Powered Trains In Scotland, I quote Hitachi, as saying they expect a sixty mile range for battery trains.

I am sure, that these trains would have sufficient range on battery to be able to work King’s Cross and Lincoln services without using diesel.

But could the Hitachi trains reach Cleethorpes with some well-positioned charging?

  • The distance between Lincoln and Cleethorpes stations is 47.2 miles.
  • In Solving The Electrification Conundrum, I describe Hitachi’s solution to running battery-electric trains, by using well-placed short lengths of 25 KVAC overhead electrification controlled by an intelligent power system.

With a range of sixty miles on batteries and charging at Lincoln and Cleethorpes stations, it would appear that battery electric operation of Class 800 trains between King’s Cross and Cleethorpes is a distinct possibility.

Lincoln Station

Lincoln station has three operational through platforms and I suspect all would need to be electrified, so that trains could be charged as they passed through.

These are distances from Lincoln station.

  • Cleethorpes – 47.2 miles
  • Doncaster – 36.9 miles
  • Nottingham – 33.9 miles
  • Peterborough – 56.9 miles
  • Sheffield – 48.5 miles

It does appear that if Lincoln station were to be electrified, most services from the city could be run using battery-electric trains.

Cleethorpes Station

This picture shows Cleethorpes station with two TransPennine Express Class 185 trains in the station.


  1. The Class 185 trains are diesel, but could be replaced by Hitachi Class 802 trains, which could be converted to battery-electric operation.
  2. Cleethorpes and Doncaster are 52.1 miles apart, which could be in range of Hitachi’s battery-electric trains.
  3. It doesn’t look to be too challenging to electrify a couple of platforms to charge the battery-electric trains.
  4. Cleethorpes station could surely charge both the LNER and the TransPennine Express trains.
  5. The Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber service which is under fifty miles for a round trip could also be replaced with battery-electric trains.

Cleethorpes station could be totally served by battery-electric trains.

Battery-Electric Trains For Lincolnshire

At the present time, there is a surplus of good redundant electrical multiple units and the rolling stock leasing companies are looking for places where they can be used.

Porterbrook are already looking to convert their fleet of Class 350 trains to battery-electric operation and I am certain, that now that Hitachi and others have solved the charging problem, a lot more trains will be converted.

Most would appear to be four-car 100 mph trains, which will be very convenient and should fit most platforms.


Running battery-electric Class 800 trains to Lincoln, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes could be the start of decarbonisation of Lincolnshire’s railways.

What would battery-electric trains do for the economy of Lincolnshire?




August 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

East Kilbride Electrification Underway

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Modern Railways.

These are the last two paragraphs.

As well as electrification, improvements on the line will include an upgrade of East Kilbride station, relocation of Hairmyres station 600 metres to the west, platform extensions and accessibility upgrades. The aim is to provide a four trains per hour eight-car electric service at peak periods. A parallel project will cover electrification between Busby Junction and Barrhead.

The Scottish Government’s plan is to decarbonise its passenger rail services by 2035, chiefly through electrification. It has recently been confirmed that partial electrification of the Borders and Fife Circle routes will follow after the East Kilbride and Barrhead lines, with battery EMUs deployed on these lines.

Because partial electrification is mentioned, it looks like Scotland is getting serious about using battery-electric trains.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the section of the Glasgow South Western Line, that includes Kilmarnock station and the branch to East Kilbride station.

The route North of Strathbungo continues to Glasgow Central station.

Which Sections Will Be Electrified?

I will take each of the sections in turn starting at the North.

Between Muirhouse South And Busby Junctions

This sentence is from the Modern Railways article.

Contractor SPL will commence on-site activities between Muirhouse South Junction and Busby Junction, including piling and construction steelwork foundations to support overhead masts.

On the map, Muirhouse South Junction is to the North of Stratbumgo and Busby junction is clearly marked and is where the East Kilbride branch joins the main line.

This section of new electrification is only around two miles long.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail: Strathbungo Locals Vote For New Footbridge.

There have been many bridge replacements for electrification, but this surely must be one of the first, where local people have voted for their preferred design.

The only other bridges on this section appear to be two substantial road bridges, where with any luck, it should be possible to squeeze the wires underneath.

Between Busby Junction And Barrhead Station

The other section listed for electrification is between Busby junction and Barrhead station.

This second section is only around 3.7 miles long and there are only two overbridges, both of which look modern.

Taking the two sections of electrification together they total under twelve track-miles and they are in a continuous straight line

I doubt, that together, they are the one of the world’s most challenging railway electrification projects.

Busby Junction and East Kilbride Station

There is no specific information about electrification between Busby junction and East Kilbride station.

  • The branch is 7.8 miles long.
  • There are fifteen overbridges on the branch.

In Plans To Introduce Battery Powered Trains In Scotland, Hitachi are quoted as saying that their trains will do sixty miles on batteries.

This should be more than enough range to run services to East Kilbride on battery power.

Barrhead and Kilmarnock Stations

There is no specific information about electrification between Barrhead and Kilmarnock stations.

  • The distance is 16.8 miles.
  • There are eleven overbridges between the two stations.

It would appear that Hitachi’s quoted sixty mile range, would be sufficient to enable battery-electric trains to run between the electrification at Barrhead and Kilmarnock station.


The various services between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride and Kilmarnock stations will probably operate as follows.

  • Glasgow Central To East Kilbride – Electrification for traction and battery charging to Crossmyloof station and then battery power.
  • East Kilbride To Glasgow Central – Battery power and gravity to Crossmyloof station and then electrification.
  • Glasgow Central To Barrhead – Electrification for traction all the way.
  • Barrhead to Glasgow Central – Electrification for traction all the way.
  • Glasgow Central To Kilmarnock – Electrification for traction and battery charging to Barrhead station and then battery power.
  • East Kilbride To Glasgow Central – Battery power to Barrhead station and then electrification.


  1. All power changeovers could be arranged to take place in stations.
  2. Gravity can be used to assist trains from East Kilbride to Glasgow Central.
  3. Glasgow Central and Barrhead services don’t need trains with batteries.
  4. The return trip between Crossmyloof and Glasgow central stations, should be more than enough to charge the batteries.

The project would appear to have been very well-designed for a fleet of battery-electric trains, with respect to reliability and electrical efficiency.

Onward To Carlisle And Stranraer

Hitachi’s system for discontinuous electrification, that I discussed in Solving The Electrification Conundrum, would appear to be ideal to extend electric trains to Carlisle and Stranraer.

Barrhead and Carlisle are 108 miles apart and Barrhead and Stranraer are 90 miles apart.

By adding two or three intermediate sections of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, it should be possible for electric trains to reliably travel between Glasgow Central and Carlisle or Stranraer.

Project Management

This electrification project could be a Project Manager’s dream.

Electrification projects in the UK can turn out to be nightmares, as if it can go wrong, it inevitably will.

But with this project, it appears that it is planned to get the often-troublesome job of erecting the gantries out of the way early.

The electrification between Muirhouse South junction and Barrhead station can even be completed first, so that passengers can see the benefit of electric trains and the electrification can be fully tested.

There are then a series of independent projects, that can be performed in the most convenient order.

  • Track upgrades.
  • Rebuild East Kilbride station.
  • Move Hairmyres station to its new position.
  • Platform extensions.
  • Improve accessibility.
  • Deliver the new battery-electric trains.


  1. It looks to me, that all of these smaller projects can be performed, whilst maintaining a full rail service on the railway. Doing that with conventional electrification usually results in some disruption.
  2. Late delivery of the battery-electric trains will not delay the overall project, if there are enough diesel multiple units to fill in.
  3. Passengers will see benefits and new facilities delivered in a stream, rather than all at once.

Similar processes can be used to extend the network to Carlisle and Stranraer.


This is a well-designed project.


August 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

East-West Rail ‘Must Use Electric Trains’ – Layla Moran MP

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

It is of “paramount importance” that a £5bn direct rail line between Oxford and Cambridge uses electric trains, an MP has said.

The East West Rail project aims to connect the university cities by the end of the decade, but its electrification is yet to be confirmed.

MP Layla Moran said: “We’re in a climate emergency. No rail line should be designed for diesel by default.”

All trains need to be electric, but that doesn’t mean the lines need to be fully-electrified.

And if you design a railway for 100 mph diesel trains, you’ve also designed it for 100 mph electric trains.

In Solving The Electrification Conundrum, I explained how Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids, have developed a practical solution to running battery-electric trains on railways without full electrification.

Their system would be ideal for the East-West Rail Link and fulfil Ms. Moran’s wish of electric trains.

There just wouldn’t be large numbers of electrification gantries marching all over the countryside.

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Will Hitachi ABB Power Grids Technology Be Used At Headbolt Lane Station?

Today, I was sent a link to the North Cheshire Rail User Group’s Newsletter for Spring 2021.

Current Progress on Merseyrail’s Class 777 Trains

This is said in the newsletter about the progress of the new Class 777 trains.

At a recent meeting of the Liverpool City Region rail user groups hosted by Liam Robinson, Chair of
Merseytravel, a short presentation was given detailing progress in bringing the new Class 777 Stadler fleet into
operation. NCRUG has been keeping a keen watch on the introduction of this new fleet; later model Class 777’s
have the ability to leave the 3rd rail and operate under battery power for 20 miles or more with a full load thus
permitting expansion of the Merseyrail network beyond its current limits.

Particularly of interest in our patch is the Ellesmere Port to Helsby line, although at one point in the meeting I
did raise the concept of ultimately having a complete Merseyrail service circling the Mersey Estuary on a metro
styled basis Ambitious certainly, but unrealistic as a long-term goal? There would be considerable work required
at Liverpool south Parkway to connect the Merseyrail line to the network, however the terrain is suitably flat and
the trains will be capable. This obvious evolution of the network did seem to take the meeting by surprise.

Unfortunately the much anticipated introduction of the Class 777’s has been delayed for a number of factors,
not least of all the pandemic but border issues and storage also play a part. Trails are taking place on the Kirby
and Ormskirk lines, and full introduction might not be until as late as next year. The Liverpool City Region has a
clearly defined set of (deliverable) objectives for development of the rail network and the expansion has been
prioritised with a line to Skelmersdale being top of the list and the first step of that being a new station at Headbolt
Lane, Kirby – plans are already well developed for this. It is expected to be this line where proof of concept trails
will be conducted for the battery powered 777’s, although Merseyrail does have authorisation to use Ellesmere
Port–Helsby on account of the low traffic movements on that line! Network expansion is being considered to
Widnes via Hunts Cross and possibly as far as Warrington, but when the question of Ellesmere Port–Helsby
was raised, the route, although under consideration, was not high on the priority list. I suspect it will be at least
several years away and I’m sure the delayed introduction of the type will not only come as a disappointment for
NCRUG but also the Community Rail Partnership and CWaC Council, who have funded a basic feasibility study
into possible demand. Therefore we are left with the Northern Trains service for the foreseeable future – 3 return
trains daily on the current schedule.

After reading this extract, I am puzzled. The original priority was to use the battery capabilities of the new Class 777 trains to extend the Ellesmere Port service to Helsby.

  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations are 5.2 miles apart.
  • Ellesmere Port has a two trains per hour (tph) service to Birkenhead and Liverpool.
  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations are linked by a three trains per day (tpd) service.

Helsby station has comprehensive connections to Chester, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Warrington Bank Quay station.

Two tph between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations would certainly improve train services in the area and probably explains the disappointment shown by the writer of the newsletter.

So why have Merseyrail switched the emphasis to battery trains to Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale from Ellesmere Port and Helsby?

Headbolt Lane Station

Headbolt Lane station is a station of an unusual design, which I wrote about in Headbolt Lane Station Fly-Through.

  • Two platforms appear to face West towards Liverpool.
  • One platform appears to face East towards Wigan and Manchester.
  • The platforms meet head-on and a walkway runs between them to allow passengers to access all platforms.
  • There appears to be provision for a fourth platform to serve Skelmersdale. which is to the East of Headbolt Lane.

I think the design means that access to all platforms is level, passengers can enter from both sides of the railway and the station doesn’t need an expensive bridge.

Between Kirkby And Headbolt Lane Stations

Headbolt Lane and Kirkby stations are a couple of miles apart at most. So were Merseyrail hoping to extend the third-rail electrification to Headbolt Lane station, but the Office of Rail and Road has more or less said that no more third-rail electrification is allowed. See ORR’s Policy On Third Rail DC Electrification Systems.

So are Merseyrail having to use battery power between Kirkby and Headbolt Lane stations?

If they are then they have the trains.

As according to the extract from the Cheshire Rail User Group’s Newsletter, the Class 777 trains have a range of twenty miles on battery power, then this should be no problem.

The Skelmersdale Shuttle

The design of Headbolt Lane station does mean that there will be no through running between Liverpool and Skelmersdale.

So it looks to me, that to allow full step-free access to all platforms, the Skelmersdale service will be a battery-electric shuttle train.

  • It could also be the only train on a single-track between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale, which would simplify signalling and operation.
  • Two tph could be possible with a single train.
  • The train would be charged in either termini using an appropriate charging system.

How many other simple branch lines could be run that way or built new?

Headbolt Lane And Manchester Victoria Via Wigan Wallgate


  • The distance between Headbolt Lane and Manchester Victoria stations is just under thirty miles, which is well within range of the average battery-electric trains currently under development.
  • As the current Kirkby and Manchester Victoria stations is run by Northern Trains and they are likely to be acquiring some Class 331 trains with a battery capability, these will surely be an ideal train.
  • The train would be charged in the East-facing platform at Headbolt Lane station using an appropriate charging system.

Headbolt Lane station would be a diesel-free station. As incidentally, so would Kirkby and Skelmersdale stations.

Charging Trains At Headbolt Lane Station

It would appear that both East-facing platforms at Headbolt Lane station will need to charge these trains.

  • A Class 777 train with a third-rail capability and the ability in the future to access overhead electrification.
  • A Class 331 train with no third-rail capability and the ability to access overhead electrification.

Class 777 trains from Liverpool would hopefully have enough power in their batteries to return to Kirkby.

It would appear that a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in both platforms would be ideal for charging trains to and from Manchester and Skelmersdale.

If one of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’s containerised overhead electrification power systems could handle both platforms, it would surely be ideal.

A crossover to allow Manchester and Skelmersdale trains to use either East-facing platform, might be desirable, as it could improve reliability.


It looks like Hitachi ABB Power Grids can provide a sensible solution to handling battery-electric trains at Headbolt Lane station. Or for that matter at any station, where battery-electric trains interface with the UK rail network.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Using Hitachi ABB Power Grids Technology At Uckfield Station

This post describes how the ABB Power Grids technology could be used to allow battery-electric trains to run between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

The London Bridge And Uckfield Route

The London Bridge And Uckfield route has these characteristics.

  • It is forty-six miles long
  • The Southern section between Heald Green junction and Uckfield station is 24.7 miles and is not electrified.
  • A service takes approximately eighty minutes.
  • Trains run at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • The route has been upgraded to be able to handle twelve car trains.
  • The route is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway is the operator.

It looks to me if you assume a ten minute turnround, then that gives a three-hour round trip.

This would mean the following.

  • Trains would have ten minutes charging time at Uckfield.
  • If twelve car trains were running on the branch then nine four-car trains would be required for an hourly service.
  • Two tph would require twice as many trains.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have arranged the route and the timetables for a fleet of battery-electric trains.

The Battery-Electric Trains

There have been several hints in the rail media, that battery-electric Bombardier Electrostars will be used for the London Bridge and Uckfield route.

I wrote Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch in September 2019.

  • In the related post I suggested Class 377, Class 379 or Class 387 trains.
  • All are four-car Bombardier Electrostars.
  • All are 100 or 110 mph trains.
  • The Class 387 trains are already dual voltage, but I suspect all trains could be converted to third-rail or dual-voltage.
  • My choice would be Class 379 trains, as they are being made redundant by Greater Anglia and thirty quality trains are looking for a new home.

But all three types would be acceptable and Govia Thameslink Railway has both of the other types in its extensive fleet.

Charging The Battery-Electric Trains

This picture shows the single twelve-car platform at Uckfield station.

There would appear to be plenty of space on the side away from the platform.

There would appear to be two main methods of charging the trains.

A Length Of 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification On The Side Away From The Platform

  • The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.
  • It could even be made very safe, if an interlock were to be provided, that ensured that the third-rail were only to be live, when a train was in the station that needed charging.

This would be possible, but I suspect the Anti-Third-Rail Electrification Mafia will get this simple method stopped.

A Length Of 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification Powered By One Of Hitachi ABB Power Grids Containised Power Systems

The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.

The driver or an automated system would raise the pantographs after the train stopped in the station.

Interlocks could be provided to increase safety.

The overhead electrification would be powered by one or more of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’s containerised power systems

Lightweight catenary could be used to reduce visual intrusion.

The curved beam at the top of this overhead electrification gantry is laminated wood.

Because of the higher voltage used, I suspect that the Hitachi ABB Power Grids could charge a twelve-car train in under ten minutes.


July 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

The title of this post, is the same as an article in the July 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory sub-heading.

Regional and rural railways poses a huge problem for the railway to decarbonise.

Lorna McDonald of Hitachi Rail and Jay Mehta of Hitachi ABB Power Grids tell Andy Roden why they believe they have the answer.

These are my thoughts on what is said.

Battery-Electric Trains

The article starts by giving a review of battery-electric trains and their use on routes of moderate but important length.

  • Some short routes can be handled with just a charge on an electrified main line.
  • Some will need a recharge at the termini.
  • Other routes might need a recharge at some intermediate stations, with a possible increase in dwell times.

It was in February 2015, that I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after a ride in public service on Bombardier’s test battery-electric train based on a Class 379 train.

I also wrote this in the related post.

Returning from Harwich, I travelled with the train’s on-board test engineer, who was monitoring the train performance in battery mode on a laptop. He told me that acceleration in this mode was the same as a standard train, that the range was up to sixty miles and that only minimal instruction was needed to convert a driver familiar to the Class 379 to this battery variant.

It was an impressive demonstration, of how a full-size train could be run in normal service without connection to a power supply. I also suspect that the partners in the project must be very confident about the train and its technology to allow paying passengers to travel on their only test train.

A couple of years later, I met a lady on another train, who’d used the test train virtually every day during the trial and she and her fellow travellers felt that it was as good if not better than the normal service from a Class 360 train or a Class 321 train.

So why if the engineering, customer acceptance and reliability were proven six years ago, do we not have several battery electric trains in service?

  • There is a proven need for battery-electric trains on the Marshlink Line and the Uckfield Branch in Sussex.
  • The current Class 171 trains are needed elsewhere, so why are no plans in place for replacement trains?
  • The government is pushing electric cars and buses, but why is there such little political support for battery-electric trains?

It’s almost as if, an important civil servant in the decision process has the naive belief that battery-electric trains won’t work and if they do, they will be phenomenally expensive. So the answer is an inevitable no!

Only in the South Wales Metro, are battery-electric trains considered to be part of the solution to create a more efficient and affordable electric railway.

But as I have constantly pointed out since February 2015 in this blog, battery-electric trains should be one of the innovations we use to build a better railway.

Hydrogen Powered Trains

The article says this about hydrogen powered trains.

Hybrid hydrogen fuel cells can potentially solve the range problem, but at the cost of the fuel eating up internal capacity that would ideally be used for passengers. (and as Industry and Technology Editor Roger Ford points out, at present hydrogen is a rather dirty fuel). By contrast, there is no loss of seating or capacity in a Hitachi battery train.

I suspect the article is referring to the Alstom train, which is based on the technology of the Alstom Coradia iLint.

I have ridden this train.

  • It works reliably.
  • It runs on a 100 km route.
  • The route is partially electrified, but the train doesn’t have a pantograph.
  • It has a very noisy mechanical transmission.

Having spoken to passengers at length, no-one seemed bothered by the Hindenburg possibilities.

It is certainly doing some things right, as nearly fifty trains have been ordered for train operating companies in Germany.

Alstom’s train for the UK is the Class 600 train, which will be converted from a four-car Class 321 train.


  1. Half of both driver cars is taken up by a hydrogen tank.
  2. Trains will be three-cars.
  3. Trains will be able to carry as many passengers as a two-car Class 156 train.

It is an inefficient design that can be improved upon.

Porterbrook and Birmingham University appear to have done that with their Class 799 train.

  • It can use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and other hydrogen gubbins are under the floor.

This picture from Network Rail shows how the train will appear at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Now that’s what I call a train! Let alone a hydrogen train!

Without doubt, Porterbrook and their academic friends in Birmingham will be laying down a strong marker for hydrogen at COP26!

I know my hydrogen, as my first job on leaving Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968 was for ICI at Runcorn, where I worked in a plant that electrolysed brine into hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and chlorine.

My life went full circle last week, when I rode this hydrogen powered bus in London.

The hydrogen is currently supplied from the same chemical works in Runcorn, where I worked. But plans have been made at Runcorn, to produce the hydrogen from renewable energy, which would make the hydrogen as green hydrogen of the highest standard. So sorry Roger, but totally carbon-free hydrogen is available.

The bus is a Wightbus Hydroliner FCEV and this page on the Wrightbus web site gives the specification. The specification also gives a series of cutaway drawings, which show how they fit 86 passengers, all the hydrogen gubbins and a driver into a standard size double-deck bus.

I believe that Alstom’s current proposal is not a viable design, but I wouldn’t say that about the Porterbrook/Birmingham University design.

Any Alternative To Full Electrification Must Meet Operator And Customer Expectations

This is a paragraph from the article.

It’s essential that an alternative traction solution offers the same levels of performance and frequency, while providing an increase in capacity and being economically viable.

In performance, I would include reliability. As the on-board engineer indicated on the Bombardier  test train on the Harwich branch, overhead electrification is not totally reliable, when there are winds and/or criminals about.

Easy Wins

Hitachi’s five-car Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains each have three diesel engines and run the following short routes.

  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough- 21 miles not electrified – Changeover in Northallerton station
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.6 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newark Northgate station
  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newbury station
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Didcot Parkway station

Some of these routes could surely be run with a train, where one diesel engine was replaced by a battery-pack.

As I’m someone, who was designing, building and testing plug-compatible transistorised electronics in the 1960s to replace  older valve-based equipment in a heavy engineering factory, I suspect that creating a plug-compatible battery-pack that does what a diesel engine does in terms of power and performance is not impossible.

What would be the reaction to passengers, once they had been told, they had run all the way to or from London without using any diesel?

Hopefully, they’d come again and tell their friends, which is what a train operator wants and needs.

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

This section is from the article.

Where electrification isn’t likely to be a viable proposition, this presents a real conundrum to train operators and rolling stock leasing companies.

This is why Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids are joining together to present a combined battery train and charging solution to solve this conundrum. In 2020, Hitachi and ABB’s Power Grids business, came together in a joint venture, and an early outcome of this is confidence that bringing together their expertise in rail, power and grid management, they can work together to make electrification simpler cheaper and quicker.

I agree strongly with the second paragraph, as several times, I’ve been the mathematician and simulation expert in a large multi-disciplinary engineering project, that went on to be very successful.

The Heart Of The Proposition

This is a paragraph from the article.

The proposition is conceptually simple. Rather than have extended dwell times at stations for battery-powered trains, why not have a short stretch of 25 KVAC overhead catenary (the exact length will depend on the types of train and the route) which can charge trains at linespeed on the move via a conventional pantograph?

The article also mentions ABB’s related expertise.

  • Charging buses all over Europe.
  • Creating the power grid for the Great Western Electrification to Cardiff.

I like the concept, but then it’s very similar to what I wrote in The Concept Of Electrification Islands in April 2020.

But as they are electrical power engineers and I’m not, they’d know how to create the system.

Collaboration With Hyperdrive Innovation

The article has nothing negative to say about the the collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to produce the battery-packs.

Route Modelling

Hitachi appear to have developed a sophisticated route modelling system, so that routes and charging positions can be planned.

I would be very surprised if they hadn’t developed such a system.

Modular And Scalable

This is a paragraph from the article.

In the heart of the system is a containerised modular solution containing everything needed to power a stretch of overhead catenary to charge trains. A three-car battery train might need one of these, but the great advantage is that it is scalable to capacity and speed requirements.

This all sounds very sensible and can surely cope with a variety of lines and traffic levels.

It also has the great advantage , that if a line is eventually electrified, the equipment can be moved on to another line.

Financing Trains And Chargers

The article talks about the flexibility of the system from an operator’s point of view with respect to finance.

I’ve had some good mentors in the area of finance and I know innovative finance contributed to the success of Metier Management Systems, the project management company I started with three others in 1977.

After selling Metier, I formed an innovative finance company, which would certainly have liked the proposition put forward in the article.

No Compromise, Little Risk

I would agree with this heading of the penultimate section of the article.

In February 2015, when I rode that Class 379 train between Manningtree and Harwich, no compromise had been made by Bombardier and it charged in the electrified bay platform at Manningtree.

But why was that train not put through an extensive route-proving exercise in the UK after the successful trial at Manningtree?

  • Was it the financial state of Bombardier?
  • Was it a lack of belief on the part of politicians, who were too preoccupied with Brexit?
  • Was it that an unnamed civil servant didn’t like the concept and stopped the project?

Whatever the reason, we have wasted several years in getting electric trains accepted on UK railways.

If no compromise needs to be made to create a battery-electric train, that is equivalent to the best-in-class diesel or electric multiple units, then what about the risk?

The beauty of Hitachi’s battery-electric train project is that it can be done in phases designed to minimise risk.

Phase 1 – Initial Battery Testing 

Obviously, there will be a lot of bench testing in a laboratory.

But I also believe that if the Class 803 trains are fitted with a similar battery from Hyperdrive Innovation, then this small fleet of five trains can be used to test a lot of the functionality of the batteries initially in a test environment and later in a real service environment.

The picture shows a Class 803 train under test through Oakleigh Park station.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Phase 2 – Battery Traction Testing And Route Proving

I am a devious bastard, when it comes to software development. The next set of features would always be available for me to test earlier, than anybody else knew.

I doubt that the engineers at Hyperdrive Innovation will be any different.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the batteries in the Class 803 trains can also be used for traction, if you have the right authority.

We might even see Class 803 trains turning up in some unusual places to test the traction abilities of the batteries.

As East Coast Trains, Great Western Railway and Hull Trains are all First Group companies, I can’t see any problems.

I’m also sure that Hitachi could convert some Class 800 or Class 802 trains and add these to the test fleet, if East Coast Trains need their Class 803 trains to start service.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Possibly, the worse thing, that could happen would be a battery failure, which would need the train to be rescued.

Phase 3 – Service Testing On Short Routes

As I indicated earlier, there are some easy routes between London and places like Bedwyn, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Oxford, that should be possible with a Class 800 or Class 802 train fitted with the appropriate number of batteries.

Once the trains have shown, the required level of performance and reliability, I can see converted Class 800, 801 and Class 802 trains entering services on these and other routes.

Another low risk phase, although passengers are involved, but they are probably subject to the same risks, as on an unmodified train.

Various combinations of diesel generators and batteries could be used to find out, what is the optimum combination for the typical diagrams that train operators use.

Hitachi didn’t commit to any dates, but I can see battery-electric trains running on the Great Western Railway earlier than anybody thinks.

Phase 4 – Service Testing On Medium Routes With A Terminal Charger System

It is my view that the ideal test route for battery-electric trains with a terminal charger system would be the Hull Trains service between London Kings Cross and Hull and Beverley.

The route is effectively in three sections.

  • London Kings Cross and Temple Hirst junction – 169.2 miles – Full Electrification
  • Temple Hirst junction and Hull station – 36.1 miles – No Electrification
  • Hull station and Beverley station – 8.3 miles – No Electrification

Two things would be needed to run zero-carbon electric trains on this route.

  • Sufficient battery capacity in Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains to reliably handle the 36.1 miles between Temple Hirst junction and Hull station.
  • A charging system in Hull station.

As Hull station also handles other Class 800 and Class 802 trains, there will probably be a need to put a charging system in more than one platform.


  1. Hull station has plenty of space.
  2. No other infrastructure work would be needed.
  3. There is a large bus interchange next door, so I suspect the power supply to Hull station is good.

Hull would be a very good first destination for a battery-electric InterCity train.

Others would include Bristol, Cheltenham, Chester, Scarborough, Sunderland and Swansea.

The risk would be very low, if the trains still had some diesel generator capacity.

Phase 5 – Service Testing On Long Routes With Multiple Charger Systems

Once the performance and reliability of the charger systems have been proven in single installations like perhaps Hull and Swansea stations, longer routes can be prepared for electric trains.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The press release talks about Penzance and London, so would that be a suitable route for discontinuous electrification using multiple chargers?

These are the distances between major points on the route between Penzance and London Paddington.

  • Penzance and Truro – 35.8 miles
  • Truro and Bodmin Parkway – 26.8 miles
  • Bodmin Parkway and Plymouth – 26.9 miles
  • Plymouth and Newton Abbot – 31,9 miles
  • Newton Abbot and Exeter – 20.2 miles
  • Exeter and Taunton – 30.8 miles
  • Taunton and Westbury – 47.2 miles
  • Westbury and Newbury – 42.5 miles
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles


  1. Only Newbury and Paddington is electrified.
  2. Trains generally stop at Plymouth, Newton Abbott, Exeter and Taunton.
  3. Services between Paddington and Exeter, Okehampton, Paignton, Penzance, Plymouth and Torquay wouldn’t use diesel.
  4. Okehampton would be served by a reverse at Exeter.
  5. As Paignton is just 8.1 miles from Newton Abbot, it probably wouldn’t need a charger.
  6. Bodmin is another possible destination, as Great Western Railway have helped to finance a new platform at Bodmin General station.

It would certainly be good marketing to run zero-carbon electric trains to Devon and Cornwall.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

In this brief analysis, it does look that Hitachi’s proposed system is of a lower risk.

A Few Questions

I do have a few questions.

Are The Class 803 Trains Fitted With Hyperdrive Innovation Batteries?

East Coast Trains‘s new Class 803 trains are undergoing testing between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh and they can be picked up on Real Time Trains.

Wikipedia says this about the traction system for the trains.

While sharing a bodyshell with the previous UK A-train variants, the Class 803 differs in that it has no diesel engines fitted. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies have failed.

Will these emergency batteries be made by Hyperdrive Innovation?

My experience of similar systems in other industries, points me to the conclusion, that all Class 80x trains can be fitted with similar, if not identical batteries.

This would give the big advantage of allowing battery testing to be performed on Class 803 trains under test, up and down the East Coast Main Line.

Nothing finds faults in the design and manufacture of something used in transport, than to run it up and down in real conditions.

Failure of the catenary can be simulated to check out emergency modes.

Can A Class 801 Train Be Converted Into A Class 803 Train?

If I’d designed the trains, this conversion would be possible.

Currently, the electric Class 801 trains have a single diesel generator. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train about the Class 801 train.

These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails.

So it looks like the difference between the powertrain of a Class 801 train and a Class 803 train, is that the Class 801 train has a diesel generator and the Class 803 train has batteries. But the diesel generator and batteries, would appear to serve the same purpose.

Surely removing diesel from a Class 801 train would ease the maintenance of the train!

Will The System Work With Third-Rail Electrification?

There are three routes that if they were electrified would probably be electrified with 750 DC third-rail electrification, as they have this electrification at one or both ends.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Marshlink Line
  • Uckfield branch


  1. Basingstoke and Exeter would need a couple of charging systems.
  2. The Marshlink line would need a charging system at Rye station.
  3. The Uckfield branch would need a charging system at Uckfield station.

I am fairly certain as an Electrical Engineer, that the third-rails would only need to be switched on, when a train is connected and needs a charge.

I also feel that on some scenic and other routes, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may be more acceptable , than 25 KVAC  overhead electrification. For example, would the heritage lobby accept overhead wires through a World Heritage Site or on top of a Grade I Listed viaduct?

I do feel that the ability to use third-rail 750 VDC third-rail electrification strategically could be a useful tool in the system.

Will The System Work With Lightweight Catenary?

I like the design of this 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that uses lightweight gantries, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.

Isuspect that both systems could work together.


Would Less Bridges Need To Be Rebuilt For Electrification?

This is always a contentious issue with electrification, as rebuilding bridges causes disruption to both rail and road.

I do wonder though by the use of careful design, that it might be possible to arrange that the sections of electrification and the contentious bridges were kept apart, with the bridges arranged to be in sections, where the trains ran on batteries.

I suspect that over the years as surveyors and engineers get more experienced, better techniques will evolve to satisfy all parties.

Get this right and it could reduce the cost of electrification on some lines, that will be difficult to electrify.

How Secure Are The Containerised Systems?


  • I was delayed in East Anglia two years ago, because someone stole the overhead wires at two in the morning.
  • Apparently, overhead wire stealing is getting increasingly common in France and other parts of Europe.

I suspect the containerised systems will need to be more secure than those used for buses, which are not in isolated locations.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Use Energy Storage?


  • I’ve lived in rural locations and the power grids are not as good as in urban areas.
  • Increasingly, batteries of one sort or another are being installed in rural locations to beef up local power supplies.
  • A new generation of small-footprint eco-friendly energy storage systems are being developed.

In some locations, it might be prudent for a containerised charging system to share a battery with the local area.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Accept Electricity From Local Sources Like Solar Farms?

I ask the question, as I know at least one place on the UK network, where a line without electrification runs through a succession of solar farms.

I also know of an area, where a locally-owned co-operative is planning a solar farm, which they propose would be used to power the local main line.

Will The System Work With Class 385 Trains?

Hitachi’s Class 385 trains are closely related to the Class 80x trains, as they are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

Will the Charging Systems Charge Other Manufacturers Trains?

CAF and Stadler are both proposing to introduce battery-electric trains in the UK.

I also suspect that the new breed of electric parcel trains will include a battery electric variant.

As these trains will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, I would expect, that they would be able to charge their batteries on the Hitachi ABB  charging systems.

Will The System Work With Freight Trains?

I believe that freight services will split into two.

Heavy freight will probably use powerful hydrogen-electric locomotives.

In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, which is based on a Freightliner press release, I detail Freightliner’s decarbonisation strategy, which indicates that in the future they will use hydrogen-powered locomotives.

But not all freight is long and extremely heavy and I believe that a battery-electric freight locomotive will emerge for lighter duties.

There is no reason it could not be designed to be compatible with Hitachi’s charging system.

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I talked about the plans for 100 mph parcel services based on redundant electric multiple units. Eversholt Rail Group have said they want a Last-Mile capability for their version of these trains.

Perhaps they need a battery-electric capability, so they can deliver parcels and shop supplies to the remoter parts of these islands?

Where Could Hitachi’s System Be Deployed?

This is the final paragraph from the article.

Hitachi is not committing to any routes yet, but a glance at the railway map shows clear potential for the battery/OLE-technology to be deployed on relatively lightly used rural and regional routes where it will be hard to make a case for electrification. The Cambrian Coast and Central Wales Lines would appear to be worthy candidates, and in Scotland, the West Highland Line and Far North routes are also logical areas for the system to be deployed.

In England, while shorter branch lines could simply be operated by battery trains, longer routes need an alternative. Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy interim business case recommends hydrogen trains for branch lines in Norfolk, as well as Par to Newquay and Exeter to Barnstaple. However, it is also entirely feasible to use the system on routes likely to be electrified much later in the programme, such as the Great Western main line West of Exeter, Swansea to Fishguard and parts of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine would be driven by high collateral benefits and practicality.

These are my thoughts.

Long Rural Lines

The Cambrian, Central Wales (Heart Of Wales), Far North and West Highland Lines may not be connected to each other, but they form a group of rail routes with a lot of shared characteristics.

  • All are rural routes of between 100 and 200 miles.
  • All are mainly single track.
  • They carry occasional freight trains.
  • They carry quite a few tourists, who are there to sample, view or explore the countryside.
  • All trains are diesel.
  • Scotrail have been experimenting with attaching Class 153 trains to the trains on the West Highland Line to act as lounge cars and cycle storage.

Perhaps we need a long-distance rural train with the following characteristics.

  • Four or possibly five cars
  • Battery-electric power
  • Space for a dozen cycles
  • A lounge car
  • Space for a snack trolley
  • Space to provide a parcels service to remote locations.

I should also say, that I’ve used trains on routes in countries like Germany, Poland and Slovenia, where a similar train requirement exists.

Norfolk Branch Lines


  • North of the Cambridge and Ipswich, the passenger services on the branch lines and the important commuter routes between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich are run by Stadler Class 755 trains, which are designed to be converted to battery-electric trains.
  • Using Hitachi chargers at Beccles, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft, Thetford and Yarmouth and the existing electrification, battery-electric Class 755 trains could provide a zero-carbon train service for Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • With chargers at Dereham and March, two important new branch lines could be added and the Ipswich and Peterborough service could go hourly and zero carbon.
  • Greater Anglia have plans to use the Class 755 trains to run a London and Lowestoft service.
  • Could they be planning a London and Norwich service via Cambridge?
  • Would battery-electric trains running services over Norfolk bring in more visitors by train?

Hitachi may sell a few chargers to Greater Anglia, but I feel they have enough battery-electric trains.

Par And Newquay

The Par and Newquay Line or the Atlantic Coast Line, has been put forward as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

In that related post, I said the line needed the following.

  • An improved track layout.
  • An hourly service.
  • An improved Par station.
  • A rebuilt Newquay station with a second platform, so that more through trains can be run.

I do wonder, if after the line were to be improved, that a new three-car battery-electric train shuttling between Par and Newquay stations could be the icing on the cake.

Exeter And Barnstaple

The Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is one of several local and main lines radiating from Exeter St. David’s station.

  • The Avocet Line to Exmouth
  • The Great Western Main Line to Taunton, Bristol and London
  • The Great Western Main Line to Newton Abbott, Plymouth and Penzance
  • The Riviera Line to Paignton
  • The West of England Line to Salisbury, Basingstoke and London.


  1. The Dartmoor Line to Okehampton is under development.
  2. Several new stations are planned on the routes.
  3. I have already stated that Exeter could host a charging station between London and Penzance, but it could also be an electrified hub for battery-electric trains running hither and thither.

Exeter could be a city with a battery-electric metro.

Exeter And Penzance

Earlier, I said that I’d trial multiple chargers between Paddington and Penzance to prove the concept worked.

I said this.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

But it is also an enabling route, as it would enable the following battery-electric services.

  • London and Bodmin
  • London and Okehampton
  • London and Paignton and Torquay

It would also enable the Exeter battery-electric metro.

For these reasons, this route should be electrified using Hitachi’s discontinuous electrification.

Swansea And Fishguard

I mentioned Swansea earlier, as a station, that could be fitted with a charging system, as this would allow battery-electric trains between Paddington and Swansea via Cardiff.

Just as with Exeter, there must be scope at Swansea to add a small number of charging systems to develop a battery-electric metro based on Swansea.

Cumbrian Coast Line

This is a line that needs improvement, mainly for the tourists and employment it could and probably will bring.

These are a few distances.

  • West Coast Main Line (Carnforth) and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.1 miles
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield – 25 miles
  • Sellafield and Workington – 18 miles
  • Workington and West Coast Main Line (Carlisle) – 33 miles


  1. The West Coast Main Line is fully-electrified.
  2. I suspect that Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield and Workington have good enough electricity supplies to support charging systems  for the Cumbrian Coast Line.
  3. The more scenic parts of the line would be left without wires.

It certainly is a line, where a good case for running battery-electric trains can be made.

Crewe And Holyhead

In High-Speed Low-Carbon Transport Between Great Britain And Ireland, I looked at zero-carbon travel between the Great Britain and Ireland.

One of the fastest routes would be a Class 805 train between Euston and Holyhead and then a fast catamaran to either Dublin or a suitable rail-connected port in the North.

  • The Class 805 trains could be made battery-electric.
  • The trains could run between Euston and Crewe at speeds of up to 140 mph under digital signalling.
  • Charging systems would probably be needed at Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead.
  • The North Wales Coast Line looks to my untrained eyes, that it could support at least some 100 mph running.

I believe that a time of under three hours could be regularly achieved between London Euston and Holyhead.

Battery-electric trains on this route, would deliver the following benefits.

  • A fast low-carbon route from Birmingham, London and Manchester to the island of Ireland. if coupled with the latest fast catamarans at Holyhead.
  • Substantial reductions in journey times to and from Anglesey and the North-West corner of Wales.
  • Chester could become a hub for battery-electric trains to and from Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Shrewsbury.
  • Battery-electric trains could be used on the Conwy Valley Line.
  • It might even be possible to connect the various railways, heritage railways and tourist attractions in the area with zero-carbon shuttle buses.
  • Opening up of the disused railway across Anglesey.

The economics of this corner of Wales could be transformed.

My Priority Routes

To finish this section, I will list my preferred routes for this method of discontinuous electrification.

  • Exeter and Penzance
  • Swansea and Fishguard
  • Crewe and Holyhead


  1. Some of the trains needed for these routes have been delivered or are on order.
  2. Local battery-electric services could be developed at Chester, Exeter and Swansea by building on the initial systems.
  3. The collateral benefits could be high for Anglesey, West Wales and Devon and Cornwall.

I suspect too, that very little construction work not concerned with the installation of the charging systems will be needed.


Hitachi have come up with a feasible way to electrify Great Britain’s railways.

I would love to see detailed costings for the following.

  • Adding a battery pack to a Class 800 train.
  • Installing five miles of electrification supported by a containerised charging system.

They could be on the right side for the Treasury.

But whatever the costs, it does appear that the Japanese have gone native, with their version of the Great British Compromise.












July 9, 2021 Posted by | Design, Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Department Of Transport Claims London and Sheffield Times Could Be Cut By Thirty Minutes

In this article on the BBC, which is entitled Government Announce £401m Boost For Rail Services, this is said.

The funding announcement coincided with the completion of the first phase of the £1.5bn Midland Main Line Upgrade, which has supported the launch of East Midlands Railway’s (EMR) first electric services on the route between Corby in Northamptonshire and London St Pancras.

The project will see journey times between Sheffield and London cut by up to 30 minutes, the DfT said.

So how feasible is the claim of a thirty minute cut in London and Sheffield timings?

On Monday, the 07:30 train from London to Sheffield, covered the 164.7 miles in two hours and twelve minutes at an average speed of 74.9 mph.

If that train had done the trip in one hour and forty-two minutes, that would have been an average speed of 96.9 mph.

By the time, the new Class 810 trains arrive in a couple of years, they will be able to use the new electrification to Market Harborough, when on Monday the 82.8 miles without a stop, was covered in an hour, at an average speed of 82.8 mph.

These new trains are 125 mph electric trains under the wires and they will have two separate fast lines on which to run.

Example time savings at various average speeds to Market Harborough are as follows.

  • 100 mph – 10 minutes saving.
  • 110 mph – 14.8 minutes saving.
  • 125 mph – 20.3 minutes saving
  • 130 mph – 21.8 minutes saving
  • 140 mph – 24.6 minutes saving


  1. The faster the average, the greater the time saving.
  2. Faster than 125 mph would only be possible with full in-cab digital signalling, which is currently being installed on the East Coast Main Line.
  3. I have been to Leicester in an InterCity 125, which was running at 125 mph most of the way.

But it does look like the new Class 810 trains will be able to save around twenty minutes to Sheffield, by making full use of the electrification between London and Market Harborough.

They would need to save just ten minutes between Market Harborough and Sheffield.

The Monday Train covered the 81.9 miles between Market Harborough and Sheffield in one hour and twelve minutes, which is an average speed of 68.3 mph.

To obtain the saving of ten minutes, it would need to do the journey in one hour and two minutes, which would be an average speed of 79.3 mph.

Given that the new Class 810 trains are designed to cruise at 125 mph on diesel, I don’t think this is an impossible objective.

What Will Be The Ultimate Time Between London and Sheffield On The Midland Main Line?

I believe that the following two sections of the Midland Main Line can be easily electrified.

  • Between Leicester and Derby without the problem of the bridge at the South end of Leicester station, which would be so disruptive.
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield which will be electrified for High Speed Two. I doubt Derby and Clay Cross Junction will be electrified as it’s a World Heritage Site.

On my Monday train, the following are times North of Leicester.

  • Leicester and Derby is 29.3 miles, which is covered in 32 minutes at an average speed of 55 mph, which includes five stops. Raise this to 110 mph and the journey time is just 16 minutes or a saving of 16 minutes.
  • Derby and Clay Cross North Junction is 21.8 miles, which is covered in 13 minutes at an average speed of 100 mph. By averaging 120 mph, there would be a saving of 2.1 minutes.
  • Cross North Junction and Sheffield is 15.5 miles, which is covered in 16 minutes at an average speed of 58.2 mph.


  1. Savings would come between Leicester and Derby because of 125 mph linespeed and faster stops because of electrification.
  2. I believe that Hitachi battery-electric trains could sustain 125 mph on battery alone between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, if they entered the section without electrification at full speed with full batteries. Now that is what I call a battery-electric train!
  3. There must be a minute or two to be saved on an electrified section into Sheffield with the stop at Chesterfield.

Add up all the savings and I feel that an hour and a half is possible between London and Sheffield.

And what time is High Speed Two claiming? One hour and twenty-seven minutes!

Could A Battery-Electric Train Cruise At 125 mph?

This may seem a silly idea, but then trains don’t care where they get their electricity from.

On the 21.8 miles between Derby and Clay Cross North, a sizeable proportion of energy will be used to accelerate the train up to the linespeed for the electrified section.

When the train enters the section without electrification, it will have two sources of energy.

  • The electricity in the full batteries.
  • The kinetic energy in the train at the required speed.

As the train runs through the section air and rolling resistance will tend to slow the train and electricity from the battery will be used to maintain speed.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?. I estimated that for a Class 801 train to maintain 125 mph needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

A simple sum of 21.8 * 5 * 3.42 gives an energy need of 372.8 kWh to run between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction.

I’m sure than Hitachi can fit a 400 kWh battery in a five-car Class 810 train.

Would a slightly larger battery and in-cab signalling allow battery-electric trains to run at 140 mph? If the track allowed it, I don’t see why not!


I believe the Department of Transport’s statement of saving thirty minutes between London and Sheffield is feasible.

But so is a time of an hour-and-a half, which will give High Speed Two a run for its money!


May 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments