The Anonymous Widower

Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham

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

The article has this sub-title.

The Prime Minister has backed calls for a new railway station in County Durham which could also be linked to the Tyne and Wear Metro.

This all came out in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, where Boris said it was his ambition to see a line opened to the former Ferryhill station, which is nine miles South of Durham.

There has been talk of reopening the Leamside Line, as both a route for the Tyne and Wear Metro and as a diversion for the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

New Rolling Stock For The Tyne And Wear Metro

Stadler are building new rolling stock for the Tyne and Wear Metro, which will be dual-voltage.

  • Able to work on the Metro’s 1500 VDC.
  • Able to work on the national 25 KVAC.
  • In addition like Merseyrail’s closely-related Class 777 trains, they could have a battery capability.

Pelaw And The Leamside Line

The Leamside Line leaves the Durham Coast Line near to Pelaw station on the Metro.

This Google Map shows Pelaw station and the rail lines in the area.


  1. Pelaw station on the Western edge of the map marked by a blue M.
  2. The Durham Coast Line running East-West across the map.
  3. The tracks going North from the junction in the middle of the map are the Tyne and Wear Metro to South Shields station and a freight line to Jarrow.
  4. At the Eastern edge of the map, Pelaw Metro Junction can be seen, where the Metro and the Durham Coast Line join to continue through Sunderland to their respective terminals.
  5. The Leamside Line can be picked out running from the major junction in the middle to the South East corner of the map.

This second Google Map shows an enlarged view of the Pelaw Metro Junction.

It appears to be a flying junction of the highest class, despite being built in the days of cash-strapped British Rail. Note the two outside Metro lines with their electrification merging with the central Durham Coast Lines, that have no electrification.

  • The route is electrified using the Metro’s 1500 VDC overhead system from here until the Metro branches off to South Hylton station.
  • The Metro and the other trains through the area, use a version of the Karlsruhe model for the signalling, so effectively, the Metro is running as a tram-train.

When the Metro has received the new Stadler trains, it will be possible to electrify the Durham Coast Line at 25 KVAC, which would allow the following.

  • Metro trains could run all the way to Middlesbrough, using their dual-voltage capability.
  • Metro trains could also run directly into Newcastle station, using the Durham Coast Line.

Voltage changeover would take place in Pelaw station.

Pelaw And Washington

The route of the Leamside Line South from Pelaw to Washington is more or less intact, although it does look in need of tender loving case.

This Google Map shows the section through Follingsby, where there used to be a Freightliner terminal.


  1. The whole area, including a former opencast coal time, is being developed.
  2. Amazon are building a fulfilment centre on the site of the Freightliner terminal.
  3. The Leamside Line runs North-South through the complex road junction at the top of the map.

This second Google Map shows the area South of the previous one and shows the Leamside Line as it passes to the West of the Nissan plant at Sunderland.


  1. The Leamside Line runs down the Western side of the map.
  2. The Nissan plant to the East, with a sausage =shaped feature in the South-West corner of the site.
  3. North of the Nissan plant an area has been earmarked for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park, which is currently the site of the NHS Nightingale Hospital NE.

It would appear discussions are underway to connect the Advanced Manufacturing Park to the Metro. But surely, with all the development alongside the line, there must be a need for perhaps three stations between Nissan and Prlaw.

This third Google Map shows Washington and its position with respect to the Nissan plant.


  1. The Nissan plant is to the North-East of this map and the sausage-shaped feature can just be seen.
  2. The Leamside Line goes North-South through the area and crosses the A1231 road, midway between the two complex junctions.
  3. The housing of the town of Washington in the South-West corner of the map.

There will surely be scope to put more than one station in the town of Washington, if the Leamside Line were to be reopened to passenger trains.

South From Washington

I will now continue South from Washington

The Victoria Viaduct

Going South from Washington, the Leamside Line has to cross the River Wear and it does that in spectacular fashion over the Grade II* Listed Victoria Viaduct.

This Google Map shows the crossing.


  1. Network Rail have maintained the viaduct since it was mothballed in 1991.
  2. It used to carry a double-track railway.
  3. The viaduct must have handled an occasional InterCity125.

I would be very surprised if a restored Victoria Viaduct couldn’t handle a five-car Class 800 train or similar.

Penshaw Station

The first station on the Leamside Line to the South of the viaduct, used to be Penshaw station.

This Google Map shows the village of Penshaw.


  1. Station Road curving around the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The Leamside Line crossing this road and running North-South.

I would expect a station could be built there, without too much difficulty.

Fencehouses Station

The next station to the South was Fencehouses station.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.


  1. The A1052 Road named Station Avenue North passing through the village.
  2. The former track of the railway passing North-South.
  3. According to Wikipedia, there used to be a level crossing at the station.

As with Penshaw station, I suspect a station could be built here fairly easily.

Leamside Station

The next station was Leamside station, which served the villages of Leamside and West Rainton.

This Google Map shows the station.


  1. The Leamside Line runs North-South in the middle of the map.
  2. Station Road can be picked out crossing the railway.
  3. Leamside is to the West of the Leamside Line.
  4. West Rainton is to the East of the Leamside Line.

It looks to be another station, that can be rebuilt without difficulty.

A Choice Of Routes At Belmont

The next station coming South on the Leamside Line used to be Belmont station.

This Google Map shows the site of the original station.


  1. The area is dominated by the two major roads; the A1(M) and the A690.
  2. In the vee of the roads, the Belmont Park-and-Ride site for Durham City is situated.
  3. The Leamside Line passes to the East of the Park-and-Ride.
  4. It appears that there is already a bridge to carry the Leamside Line over the A690.

There used to be a direct line between Belmont and Durham Gilesgate stations and the remains of the track-bed can be picked out, as it passes to the North of the Park-and-Ride.

There must surely be possibilities for some innovative thinking to connect Belmont, Durham, Newcastle and Washington.

But a simple station at the Park-And-Ride could be the best!

  • Travellers living along the Leamside Line could use the buses at the Park-and-Ride to get to Durham City.
  • The station would become a Parkway station for travellers going to Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, Washington and anywhere on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

There would appear to be space for more parking, if that were to be needed.

An Alternative Direct Route Between the Leamside Line and the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows the Leamside Line to the North of Belmont and the area to the West of the Line.


  1. The A1 (M) running North-South.
  2. The Leamside Line running North-South to the East of the motorway.
  3. The Grade II Listed Belmont Railway Viaduct marked by a blue arrow crossing the River Wear.

The remains of the trackbed of a railway can be picked out between the Leamside Line and the Belmont Railway Viaduct.

This second Google Map shows the area between the Belmont Railway Viaduct and the ECML.


  1. HM Prison Frankland at the top of the map.
  2. The ECML running down the West side of the map.
  3. The Belmont Railway Viaduct in the South-East corner of the map.

The trackbed between the ECML and the railway viaduct can be picked out.

Could The Line Over The Belmont Railway Viaduct Be Rebuilt To Create A Route Between Durham And Newcastle?

  • Looking, where the railway would need to cross the A1 (M), if appears that no provision was made for a underpass or bridge, when the motorway was built, so building one would be expensive and very disruptive.
  • Creating a flying junction to connect the new line to the ECML would be another expensive and disruptive project.
  • What is the condition of the Belmont Railway Viaduct?
  • Would it be better to build an interchange station at the Belmont Park-And-Ride?

I feel that it would be unlikely that this route will be rebuilt.

South From Belmont

I will now continue South from Belmont station.

Shincliffe Station

The next station going South was Shincliffe station.

This Google Map shows the village of Shincliffe.


  1. The A177 road running NW-SE across the map.
  2. The Leamside Line running SW-NE across the map.
  3. The original station was where was road and railway crossed.

The Leamside Line continues South to Tursdale Junction, where it joins the ECML.

This Google Map shows Tursdale Junction.



  1. Ferryhll is to the South.
  2. The ECML runs North to Durham and Newcastle in a slightly North-Westerly direction.
  3. The Leamside Line goes to Washington in a Northerly direction.

This second Google Map shows the ECML through Ferryhill.


  1. The sand quarries opposite the village, that are planned to be used for landfill.
  2. The ECML runs North-South between the village and the quarries.
  3. There are two railways going South from Ferryhill.
  4. The ECML goes South to Darlington, York and beyond.
  5. The Stillington Railway goes South-East to Stockton and Hartlepool.

The Campaign for Better Transport have given a high priority for reopening passenger services between Ferryhill and Stockton.

Thoughts On The Reopening Of Ferryhill Station

The closing of routes linking to Ferryhill station seems to have been almost a continuous process.

  • Coxhoe – 1902
  • Byers Green Branch beyond Spennymoor – 1939
  • Leamside Line – 1941
  • Spennymoor – 1952
  • Stockton – 1952
  • Harlepool – 1952

Beeching finally put the station out of its misery in 1963

But things are different now!

  • We need to build lots of new houses all over the country. And they need transport connections!
  • We need to cut our carbon emissions.
  • Roads are getting more crowded and we need to provide alternative reliable public transport.
  • We need to load our weapons against COVID-19.

I feel with detailed planning, a well-designed station at Ferryhill could be an asset to the North East.

These are a few thoughts.

The Leamside Line Will Be An Important Route

The route between Pelaw and Ferryhill stations will be just over twenty miles long.

  • It could be easily be run with the new Metro trains.
  • Trains could stop at perhaps seven or eight intermediate stations.
  • I estimate a journey could take about an hour.
  • South Hylton station supports at least four trains per hour (tph)
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Trains could stop at Belmont Park-and-Ride for a frequent bus service to Durham City.
  • Washington might be able to support two stations.

It would certainly be a service that would fit in with the philosophy of the Metro.

Would The Leamside Line Be Electrified?

Unless the Metro trains were to be fitted with batteries, it would need to be electrified.

Either 1500 VDC or 25 KVAC could be used!

If the Durham Coast Line and the Leamside Line were to both be electrified with 25 KVAC, the following would be possible.

  • Metro trains could go to Newcastle station.
  • Other electric trains could use the Leamside Line as a diversion.
  • Electric freight trains could use the Leamside Line.

On the other hand, the Leamside Line would be ideal for partial electrification.

  • Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains are to be fitted with batteries and these trains are closely-related to the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains.
  • Relaying new track on the existing track bed, is not going to be the expensive part of the project.
  • Electrification between Pelaw and Washington would be easy, using the 1500 VDC overhead system of the Metro.
  • There may be problems from the Heritage lobby, about electrification on the Victoria Viaduct.
  • Ferryhill station would be electrified as it is on the ECML.

Trains could run the sixteen or so miles between Washington and Ferryhill stations on battery power.

The Ferryhill And Hartlepool Line Could Be A Useful Passenger Route

The route between Ferryhill and Hartlepool stations will be around twenty miles long.

  • There could be new stations at Sedgefield, Stillington and Stockton.
  • The route is double-track throughout.
  • The route joins the Durham Coast Line at Billingham.
  • It must open up possibilities for business and leisure travel.

The Government and local politicians must see a future for the railways in the area, as Horden station, which is next to Hartlepool station, is reopening.

Perhaps, there are plans for a train to leave Newcastle and take this route.

  • Newcastle to Ferryhill via the Leamside Line.
  • Ferryhill to Hartlepool.
  • Hartlepool to Newcastle via the Durham Coast Line.

Running hourly, it would connect a lot of towns with unemployment to those, where jobs are being created.

Would The Ferryhill and Hartlepool Line Be Electrified?

This route would surely only be electrified, when other lines in the area were similarly enhanced.

Electrification would not be a bad idea.

  • It would allow the new Tyne and Wear Metro trains to invade Teesside.
  • A Teesside Metro could be developed, that was electric-hauled, which would use the same trains as the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  • Some of the many freight trains starting or finishing in the area could be electric-hauled.
  • LNER and TransPennine Express could use their bi-mode trains in electric mode to Teesside.

There could be a zero-carbon alternative, as plans for hydrogen trains on Teesside seem well advanced, as I wrote about in Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails.

Also in Northern’s Hydrogen Plans, I published this extract from an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

Northern has submitted planning documents, with the preferred site for a maintenance and fuelling facility understood to be at Lackenby. As hydrogen units would have a more limited operating range than DMUs (around 600 miles), they would likely need to return to the depot every night. Northern believes the routes radiating from Middlesbrough to Nunthorpe, Bishop Auckland and Saltburn are ideal candidates for the operation, as they are unlikely to be electrified and can be operated as a self contained network using hydrogen trains. A fleet of around a dozen Breeze units is planned, with the possibility they could also operate services to Whitby and on the Durham Coast Line to Newcastle. Planning documentation suggested the first hydrogen train would be ready for testing in June 2021, but this was based on construction of the depot facility beginning in January this year.

If they were to use these trains to Ferryhill, some extra stations would be needed.

Will Trains On The East Coast Main Line Stop At Ferryhill Station?

I can’t see why not!

Services between York and Newcastle call at the following stations.

  1. CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  2. CrossCountry – Reading and Newcastle calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  3. LNER – London and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington and Newcastle
  4. LNER – London and Edinburgh calls at York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  5. TransPennine Express – Liverpool and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  6. TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle calls at York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham, Chester-le-Street and Newcastle

I suspect that with a small amount of adjustment two tph could call at Ferryhill

  • If train 3 stopped, this would give a connection to London and Edinburgh
  • If train 6 stopped, this would give a connection to Manchester Airport

For many stations, which could connect to Ferryhill station in the future, the station might offer the quickest and most convenient route for travellers.

Could Some Of The Old Branches From Ferryhill Be Reopened?

There were a lot of branches from the Ferryhill area to neighbouring villages, because of all the coal mines in the area.

So could some of these branches be reopened, if say there were housing or commercial developments.

This Google Map shows the ECL about a mile North of the site of Ferryhill station.


  1. The ECML going North-South just to the East of the centre of the map.
  2. Ferryhill station is to the South.
  3. On the Western side of the map, there is the remains of a triangular junction, which used to connect Byers Green and Spennymoor stations on the Byers Green Branch to Ferryhill.
  4. On the Eastern  side of the map, there is a scar, which was the trackbed to Cuxhoe station.

Both branches can be picked out on Google Maps. As can roads like Railway Terrace and Station Road!

Whether any of these branches are worth reopening, is one for the planners armed with future knowledge of developments and various statistics.

Did Boris Know More Than He Said?

I have listened to Prime Ministers Questions off and on, since the time of Mrs. Thatcher.

Not often, does any Prime Minister make a substantial statement in PMQs, as they rarely have all the facts at their fingertips and don’t want to be called to account later.

In response to a direct question from a local MP, about the opening of Ferryhill station, Boris after usual PMQ waffle, said this.

I will make sure that I add to that an ambition to come and see Ferryhill station launched with him.

As decisions on the Leamside Line and hydrogen trains for Teesside have been delayed for months or possibly years, I wondered, if the decision has recently been made.

  • If the plan had been discussed in Cabinet, Boris would surely have known more.
  • A government minister was also seen on the BBC News at Horden station having a look, last week.
  • The tone of the Sunderland Echo article is also very positive.

All that prompted me to write this post.


After looking at the Leamside Line and other railways in the North East, I think there is a lot that can be done to create a world-class local railway in the area.

June 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Edition 895 of RAIL Magazine.

The article is based on an interview with Ben Houchen, who is the Tees Valley Mayor.

Various topics are covered.

Hydrogen-Powered Local Trains

According to the article, the Tees Valley produces fifty percent of UK hydrogen and the area is already secured investment for fuelling road vehicles with hydrogen.

So the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) is planning to convert some routes to hydrogen.

The Trains

Ten hydrogen-powered trains will be purchased or more likely leased, as the trains will probably be converted from redundant electrical multiple units, owned by leasing companies like Eversholt Rail and Porterbrook.

The RAIL article says that the first train could be under test in 2021 and service could be started in 2022.

That would certainly fit the development timetables for the trains.

Lackenby Depot

A depot Will Be Created At Lackenby.

  • The site is between Middlesbrough and Redcar.
  • It already has rail and hydrogen connections.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note the disused Redcar British Steel station, which is still shown on the map.

I remember the area from the around 1970, when I used to catch the train at the now-closed Grangetown station, after visits to ICI’s Wilton site. It was all fire, smoke, smells and pollution.

Darlington Station

Darlington station will also be remodelled to allow more services to operate without conflicting with the East Coast Main Line.

Wikipedia says this under Future for Darlington station.

As part of the Tees Valley Metro, two new platforms were to be built on the eastern edge of the main station. There were to be a total of four trains per hour, to Middlesbrough and Saltburn via the Tees Valley Line, and trains would not have to cross the East Coast Main Line when the new platforms would have been built. The Tees Valley Metro project was, however, cancelled.

It does sound from reading the RAIL article, that this plan is being reinstated.

Would services between Bishop Auckland and Saltburn, use these new platforms?

Saltburn And Bishops Auckland Via Middlesbrough and Darlington

Currently, the service is two trains per hour (tph) between Saltburn and Darlington, with one tph extending to Bishop Auckland.

  • I estimate that the current service needs five trains.
  • If a two tph service were to be run on the whole route, an extra train would be needed.
  • I suspect, the limitations at Darlington station, stop more trains being run all the way to Bishops Auckland.

I could also see extra stations being added to this route.

The Mayor is talking of running a service as frequent as six or eight tph.

These numbers of trains, will be needed for services of different frequencies between Saltburn and Darlington.

  • 2 tph – 6 trains
  • 4 tph – 12 trains
  • 6 tph – 18 trains
  • 8 tph – 24 trains

As the London Overground, Merseyrail and Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, find four tph a more than adequate service, I suspect that should be provided.

After updating, Darlington station, should be able to handle the following.

  • Up to six tph terminating in one of the new Eastern platforms, without having to cross the East Coast Main Line.
  • Two tph between Saltburn and Bishops Auckland could use the other platform in both directions.

I would suspect that the design would see the two platforms sharing an island platform.

Alternatively, trains could continue as now.

  • Terminating trains could continue to use Platform 2!
  • Two tph between Saltburn and Bishops Auckland stopping in Platforms 1 (Eastbound) and 4 (Westbound)

This would avoid any infrastructure changes at Darlington station, but terminating trains at Darlington would still have to cross the Southbound East Coast Main Line.

If the frequencies were as follows.

  • 4 tph – Saltburn and Darlington
  • 2 tph – Saltburn and Bishop Auckland

This would require fourteen trains and give a six tph service between Saltburn and Darlington.

Ten trains would allow a two tph service on both routes.

There would be other services using parts of the same route, which would increase the frequency.

Hartlepool And The Esk Valley Line Via Middlesbrough

This is the other route through the area and was part of the cancelled Tees Valley Metro.

  • Service is basically one tph, with six trains per day (tpd) extending to Whitby.
  • A second platform is needed at Hartlepool station.
  • There is a proposal to add a Park-and-Ride station between Nunthorpe and Great Ayton stations.
  • One proposal from Modern Railways commentator; Alan Williams, was to simplify the track at Battersby station to avoid the reverse.
  • Currently, trains between Whitby and Middlesbrough are timetabled for around 80-100 minutes.
  • Hartlepool and Middlesbrough takes around twenty minutes.

Substantial track improvements are probably needed to increase the number of trains and reduce the journey times between Middlesbrough and Whitby.

But I believe that an hourly service between Hartlepool and Whitby, that would take under two hours or four hours for a round trip, could be possible.

This would mean that the hourly Hartlepool and Whitby service would need four trains.

Providing the track between Nunthorpe and |Whitby could be improved to handle the traffic, this would appear to be a very feasible proposition.

Nunthorpe And Hexham Via Newcastle

There is also an hourly service between Nunthorpe and Hexham, via Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle, there would be two tph.

  • It takes around two hours and twenty minutes.
  • I estimate that five trains would be needed for the service.
  • I travelled once between Newcastle and James Cook Hospital in the Peak and the service was busy.
  • A new station is being built at Horden, which is eight minutes North of Hartlepool.
  • The service could easily access the proposed fuelling station at Lackenby.
  • It would reduce carbon emissions in Newcastle and Sunderland stations..

Surely, if hydrogen power is good enough for the other routes, then it is good enough for this route.

Hartlepool Station

Hartlepool Station could become a problem, as although it is on a double track railway, it only has one through platform, as these pictures from 2011 show.


  • There is no footbridge, although Grand Central could pay for one
  • There is a rarely-used bay platform to turn trains from Middlesbrough, Nunthorpe and Whitby.

This Google Map shows the cramped site.

The final solution could mean a new station.

Nunthorpe Park-And-Ride

This Google Map shows Nunthorpe with thje bEsk Valley Line running through it.


  1. Gypsy Lane and Nunthorpe stations.
  2. The dual-carriageway A171 Guisborough by-pass running East-West, that connects in the East to Whitby and Scarborough.
  3. The A1043 Nunthorpe by-pass that connects to roads to the South.

Would where the A1043 crosses the Esk Valley Line be the place for the Park-and-Ride station?

The new station could have a passing loop, that could also be used to turn back trains.

Battersby Station

Alan Williams, who is Chairman of the Esk Valley Railway Development Company, is quoted in the RAIL article as saying.

If you’re going to spend that sort of money we’d much rather you spent it on building a curve at Battersby to cut out the reversal there.

Williams gives further reasons.

  • Battersby is the least used station on the line.
  • It’s in the middle of nowhere.
  • The curve would save five minutes on the overall journey.

This Google Map shows Battersby station and the current track layout.


  1. The line to Middlesbrough goes through the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The line to Whitby goes through the North-East corner of the map.

There would appear to be plenty of space for a curve that would cut out the station.

LNER To Teesside

LNER, the Government and the TVCA are aiming to meet a target date of the Second Quarter of 2021 for a direct London and Middlesbrough service.

Middlesbrough Station

Middlesbrough Station will need to be updated and according to the RAIL article, the following work will be done.

  • A new Northern entrance with a glass frontage.
  • A third platform.
  • Lengthening of existing platforms to take LNER’s Class 800 trains.

This Google Map shows the current layout of the station.

From this map it doesn’t look to be the most difficult of stations, on which to fit in the extra platform and the extensions.

It should also be noted that the station is Grade II Listed, was in good condition on my last visit and has a step-free subway between the two sides of the station.

Journey Times

I estimate that a Kings Cross and Middlesbrough time via Northallerton would take aroud two hours and fifty minutes.

This compares with other journey times in the area to London.

  • LNER – Kings Cross and Darlington – two hours and twenty-two minutes
  • Grand Central – Kings Cross and Eaglescliffe – two hours and thirty-seven minutes.

I also estimate that timings to Redcar and Saltburn would be another 14 and 28 minutes respectively.


Currently, LNER run between three and four tph between Kings Cross and Darlington, with the competing Grand Central service between Kings Cross and Eaglescliffe having a frequency of five trains per day (tpd).

LNER have also started serving secondary destinations in the last month or so.

  • Harrogate, which has a population of 75.000, is served with a frequency of six tpd.
  • Lincoln, which has a population of 130,000 is now served with a frequency of six tpd.

Note that the RAIL article, states that the Tees Valley has a population of 750,000.

I feel that Middlesbrough will be served by a frequency of at least five tpd and probably six to match LNER’s new Harrogate and Lincoln services.

Will LNER’s Kings Cross and York Service Be Extended To Middlesbrough?

Cirrently , trains that leave Kings Cross at six minutes past the hour end up in Lincoln or York

  • 0806 – Lincoln
  • 0906 – York
  • 1006 – Lincoln
  • 1106 – York
  • 1206 -Lincoln
  • 1306 – York
  • 1406 – Lincoln
  • 1506 – York
  • 1606 – Lincoln
  • 1906 -Lincoln

It looks to me that a pattern is being developed.

  • Could it be that the York services will be extended to Middlesbrough in 2021?
  • Could six Middlesbrough trains leave Kings Cross at 0706, 0906, 1106, 1306, 1506 and 1706 or 1806?
  • York would still have the same number of trains as it does now!

LNER certainly seem to be putting together a comprehensive timetable.

Could Middlesbrough Trains Split At Doncaster Or York?

I was in Kings Cross station, this afternoon and saw the 1506 service to York, go on its way.

The train was formed of two five-car trains, running as a ten-car train.

If LNER employ spitting and joining,, as some of their staff believe, there are surely, places, where this can be done to serve more destinations, without requiring more paths on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Splitting at Doncaster could serve Hull, Middlesborough and York.
  • Splitting at York could serve Scarborough, Middlesborough and Sunderland.

Scarborough might be a viable destination, as the town has a population of over 100,000.

Onward To Redcar And Saltburn

One of the changes in the December 2019 timetable change, was the extension of TransPennine Express’s Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough service to Redcar Central station.

The RAIL article quotes the Mayor as being pleased with this, although he would have preferred the service to have gone as far as Saltburn, which is a regional growth point for housing and employment.

But the extra six miles would have meant the purchase of another train.

Redcar Central Station

This Google Map shows Redcar Central station and its position in the town.

It is close to the sea front and the High Street and there appears to be space for the stabling of long-distance trains to Manchester Airport and perhaps, London.

TransPennine seem to be using their rakes of Mark 5A coaches on Redcar services, rather than their Class 802 trains, which are similar to LNER’s Azumas.

Surely, there will be operational advantages, if both train operating companies ran similar trains to Teesside.

Saltburn Station

Saltburn station is the end of the line.

This Google Map shows its position in the town.

Unlike Redcar Central station, there appears to be very little space along the railway and turning back trains might be difficult.

There may be good economic reasons to use Saltburn as a terminal, but operationally, it could be difficult.

Will Redcar And Saltburn See Services To and From London?

Given that both towns will likely see much improved services to Middlesbrough, with at least a service of four tph, I think it will be unlikely.

But we might see the following.

  • LNER using Redcar as a terminus, as TransPennine Express do, as it might ease operations.
  • An early morning train to London and an evening train back from the capital, which is stabled overnight at Redcar.
  • TransPennine Express using Class 802 trains on their Redcar service for operational efficiency, as these trains are similar to LNER’s Azumas.

It would all depend on the passenger numbers.

A High-Frequency Service Between York And Teesside

After all the changes the service between York and Teesside will be as follows.

  • LNER will be offering a train virtually every two hours between York and Middlesbrough.
  • Grand Central will be offering a train virtually every two hours between York and Eaglescliffe, which is six miles from Middlesbrough.
  • TransPennine Express will have an hourly service between York and Redcar via Middlesbrough.
  • There will be between three and four tph between York and Darlington.

All services would connect to the hydrogen-powdered local services to take you all over Teesside.

Could this open up tourism without cars in the area?

Expansion Of The Hydrogen-Powered Train Network

Could some form of Hydrogen Hub be developed at Lackenby.

Alstom are talking of the hydrogen-powered Breeze trains having a range of over six hundred miles and possibly an operating speed of 100 mph, when using overhead electrification, where it is available.

In Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon, I put together information from various articles and said this.

I am fairly certain, that Alstom can create a five-car Class 321 Breeze with the following characteristics.

  • A capacity of about three hundred seats.
  • A smaller three-car train would have 140 seats.
  • A near-100 mph top speed on hydrogen-power.
  • A 100 mph top speed on electrification.
  • A 1000 km range on hydrogen.
  • Regenerative braking to an on-board battery.
  • The ability to use 25 KVAC overhead and/or 750 VDC third rail electrification.

The trains could have the ability to run as pairs to increase capacity.

The distance without electrification to a selection of main stations in the North East from Lackenby is as follows.

  • Newcastle via Middlesbrough and Darlington – 21 miles
  • Newcastle via Middlesbrough and Durham Coast Line – 53 miles.
  • York via Northallerton – 27 miles
  • Doncaster via Northallerton and York – 27 miles
  • Leeds via Northallerton and York – 52 miles
  • Sheffield via Northallerton, York and Doncaster – 45 miles

I am assuming that the trains can use the electrification on the East Coast Main Line.

From these figures it would appear that hydrogen-powered trains stabled and refuelled at Lackenby could travel to Doncaster, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield or York before putting in a days work and still have enough hydrogen in the tank to return to Lackenby.

Several things would help.

  • As hydrogen-powered trains have a battery, with a battery range of thirty miles all these main stations could be reached on battery power, charging on the East Coast Main Line and at Lackenby.
  • Electrification between Darlington and Lackenby.
  • Electrification between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe.

I am fairly certain that a large proportion of the intensive network of diesel services in the North East of |England from Doncaster and Sheffield in the South to Newcastle in the North, can be replaced with hydrogen-powered trains.

  • Trains could go as far West as Blackpool North, Carlisle, Manchester Victoria, Preston and Southport.
  • Refueling could be all at Lackenby, although other refuelling points could increase the coverage and efficieny of the trains.
  • Green hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis from the massive offshore wind farms off the Lincolnshire Coast.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains would be ideal for re-opened routes like the proposed services from Newcastle to Blyth and Ashington.

The hydrogen-powered trains on Teesside could be the start of a large zero-carbon railway network.

The Alstom Breeze And The HydroFlex Would Only Be The Start

As I said earlier, the initial trains would be conversions of redundant British Rail-era electrical multiple units.

Thirty-year-old British Rail designs like the Class 319 and Class 321 trains based on the legendary Mark 3 carriages with its structural integrity and superb ride, may have been state-of-the-art in their day, but engineers can do better now.

  • Traction and regenerative braking systems are much more energy efficient.
  • Train aerodynamics and rolling resistance have improved, which means less energy is needed to maintain a speed.
  • Interior design and walk-through trains have increased capacity.
  • Crashworthiness has been improved.

Current Bombardier Aventras, Stadler Flirts or Siemens Desiros and CAF Civities are far removed from 1980s designs.

I can see a design for a hydrogen-powered train based on a modern design, tailored to the needs of operators being developed.

A place to start could be an electric CAF Class 331 train. or any one of a number of Aventras.

  • From the visualisation that Alstom have released of their Breeze conversion of a Class 321 train, I feel that to store enough hydrogen, a large tank will be needed and perhaps the easiest thing to do at the present time would be to add an extra car containing the hydrogen tank, the fuel cells and the batteries.
  • Alstom have stated they’re putting the fuel cells on the roof and the batteries underneath the train.

Although, it is not a hydrogen train, Stadler have developed the Class 755 train, with a power car in the middle of the train.

Stadler’s approach of a power car, must be working as they have received an order for a hydrogen-powered version of their popular Flirts, which I wrote about in MSU Research Leads To North America’s First Commercial Hydrogen-Powered Train.

I think we can be certain, that because of the UK loading gauge, that a hydrogen-powered train will be longer by about a car, than the equivalent electric train.

I can see a certain amount of platform lengthening being required. But this is probably easier and less costly than electrification to achieve zero-carbon on a route.

Batteries can be distributed under all cars of the train, anywhere there is space., But I would suspect that fuel cells must be in the same car as the hydrogen tank, as I doubt having hydrogen pipes between cars would be a good idea.

Alstom have resorted to putting hydrogen tanks and fuel cells in both driving cars and they must have sound reasons for this.

Perhaps, it is the only way, they can get the required power and range.

As I understand it, the Alstom Breeze draws power from three sources.

  • The electrification if the route is electrified.
  • The electricity generated by regenerative braking.
  • The hydrogen system produces electricity on demand, at the required level.

Energy is stored in the batteries, which power the train’s traction motors and internal systems.

The electrical components needed for the train are getting smaller and lighter and I feel that it should be possible to put all the power generation and collection into a power car, that is somewhere near the middle of the train. Stadler’s power car is short at under seven metres, but there is probably no reason, why it couldn’t be the twenty metres, that are typical of UK trains.

Suppose you took a four-car version of CAF’s Class 331 train, which has two driver cars either side of a pantograph car and a trailer car.

This has 284 seats and by comparison with the three-car version the trailer car has eighty. As the pantograph car is also a trailer, I’ll assume that has eighty seats too! Until I know better!

Replacing the pantograph car with a hydrogen car, which would be unlikely to have seats, would cut the seats to 204 seats, but a second trailer would bring it back up to 284 seats.

I actually, think the concept of a hydrogen car in the middle of a four-car electric train could work.

  • The five-car hydrogen train would have the same capacity as the four-car electric version.
  • The train would need an updated software system and some rewiring. Bombardier achieved this quickly and easily with the train for the Class 379 BEMU trial.
  • There are several types of four-car electrical multiple units, that could possibly be converted to five-car hydrogen-powered multiple units.
  • Some five-car electrical multiple units might also be possible to be converted.

Obviously, if an existing train can be adapted for hydrogen, this will be a more cost effective approach.


Overall, the plans for rail improvements on Teesside seem to be good ones.

I’m looking forward to riding LNER to Teesside and then using the network of hydrogen-powered trains to explore the area in 2022.

My only worry, is that, if the network is successful, the many tourists visiting York will surely increase the numbers of day visitors to Whitby.

This is a paragraph from the RAIL article.

Alan Williams says that the EVRDC’s long-term objective is to see the Esk Valley served at intervals of roughly every two hours, equating to eight return trains per day, but with Northern and NYMR services sharing the single line between Grosmont and Whitby, introducing further Middlesbrough trains during the middle of the day, brings the conversation back to infrastructure.

He goes on to detail what is needed.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments