The Anonymous Widower

My Current Thoughts On Electric Trains To Windermere

These are my current thoughts on electric trains to Windermere station.

Passengers And Battery-Electric Trains

I don’t think any reputable journalist interviewed passengers on either of the two battery electric services that have successfully run for longer than a couple of days.

Those that used British Rail’s Aberdeen and Ballater service in the 1950s, are probably thin on the ground, although I did meet an elderly lady, who’d regularly used it to go to school and she said the service was reliable.

She also said that the Queen Mother was an enthusiastic passenger.

I rode the Manningtree and Harwich battery electric train during its short trial.

But more significantly, since then I have met two passengers, who used it every day during the trial to commute.

Both would like to see the train return, as it seemed more reliable. I wonder, if like much of East Anglia’s overhead wires, the route suffers from the wind.

It does appear that providing a reliable service with battery electric trains is not a difficult problem.

Two Trains Per Hour To Windermere

In Passing Loop Hope For Windermere, I discuss a passing loop on the Windermere Branch Line to enable two trains per hour (tph) along the line.

The Treasury wouldn’t like this, as it would need twice the number of trains.

But hopefully, it would double the ticket revenue.

Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains

It has been some time now since in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, that it was announced that CAF announced they were building a battery-electric version of the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

Little has been heard of CAF’s progress since, although I did write Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, which was based on an article in the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Northern Looks To The Future.

Lack Of Progress On Battery And Hydrogen Train Projects

Is this typical of battery and hydrogen projects?

Southern’s project on the Uckfield Branch and to close the electrification gap between Ashford and Hastings has only been conspicuous by its absence. This project is important as it releases the Class 170 trains, so that EMR can fulfil franchise commitments.

The project to use hydrogen trains on Teesside has also progressed at a snail’s pace.

It is almost as if someone in the Department of Transport or more likely the Treasury, feels that the best thing to do is to carry on using diesel, as it’s the cheapest alternative.

I don’t think it is any politician, as their public statements seem to be very much in favour of decarbonisation.

Other Electric Trains In The Lake District

I also think, that if battery-electric trains were to be run to Windermere, that they would also run to Barrow-in-Furness. Am I right in thinking that the Furness Line is rather flat, so would be ideal for battery-electric trains?

But I do wonder, if Sellafield and Direct Rail Services are pushing for electrification, as it would surely help their operations, as they could use Class 88 locomotives to bring in the flasks for processing.

Also in Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, I did say this.

I feel it would be possible to electrify the Cumbrian Coast Line using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Surely, a battery-electric train along the Cumbrian Coast by the Lake District would be the ideal train for the area.

I can certainly see a small fleet of battery-electric working services between Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Carnforth, Manchester Airport, Sellafield, Whitehaven, Windermere and Workington.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

An Updated Manningtree Station

I stopped off at Manningtree station on the way to the football last night to have a look at the new step-free subway and perhaps buy a drink in the buffet.

Having a drink en route to Ipswich, is probably a good idea at the moment, as Ipswich station is being updated and there is nowhere between the station and Portman Road to buy one.

These were the pictures I took.


  • There is a loop on the Northern side of the station, which has been modified to create a short through Platform 4.
  • The subway is fully operational, although signs say there is still work to do.
  • The subway is ideally placed for a passenger to get off a Norwich-bound train, walk to the subway and cross underneath the lines to either the station exit or a train on the Harwich branch waiting in Platform 1.

As to the buffet, it wasn’t worth a visit, as the cider, which is so important for coeliacs, was rubbish.

The New Manningtree Depot

This article in Rail News says this about the new Stadler Flirts ordered by Greater Anglia.

The trains will be maintained at the existing depots, including Crown Point at Norwich, and also at a new depot at Manningtree which is to be built on a former industrial site alongside the main line.

This Google Map shows the area.

Manningtree Depot Site

Manningtree Depot Site

The Great Eastern Main Line crosses the map, with Manningtree station clearly marked.

Going East, there is a fully-electrified triangular junction, where the Harwich Branch or Mayflower Line joins the main line, followed by two crossings of the River Stour.

Then to the North and South of the main line, there is a large derelict industrial site, which I suspect will be the location of the depot, as it is the only place that fits the Rail News description.

I suppose the biggest question about this depot, as will it be North or South of the main line. But there is masses of space and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the site used for other commercial purposes as well.

Other questions might include.

  • Will housing be developed in the area? Probably not, as it could be liable to flooding.
  • Will the depot be developed with limited overhead wires for safety and ascetic reasons?
  • Will a station be built to serve the area?
  • If one is, will it have extensive car parking in the space available?
  • How will environmentalists react to development of the deelict industrial site?

I do suspect locally, that the new employment opportunities will be welcomed.

The Manningtree Station Level Crossing

This Google Map shows a close-up of Manningtree station.

Manningtree Station

Manningtree Station

Note how the road crosses the railway at the right. Wikipedia says this about the crossing.

A second peculiar feature just east of the station is a combination of a road underpass and a level crossing. The underpass has limited height and the parallel level crossing is needed to permit higher vehicles to cross the railway.

This article on the BBC has a video about the crossing, which surely makes a case for improvements.

The title of the article is Bus trapped on Manningtree railway crossing: Driver fined says it all.

Luckily, the only damage was to the driver’s wallet!

With increased traffic on the railway lines through the crossing, will we be seeing improvements to this crossing, which surely must cause problems for trucks at times?

Platform 4

I think we’ll be seeing more use of Platform 4 as the lines get busier and the traffic gets faster.

  • I have read somewhere, that the updated Platform 4 will be used as a means of allowing fast trains to overtake. I suppose a Colchester to Ipswich local train could wait in Platform 4, whilst a London to Norwich express went through on Platform 3.
  • Perhaps the line could be used by trains going down the Harwich Branch to improve connectivity to the branch with London to Norwich expresses in the Peak.
  • I also think for operational reasons train companies like to have a station before a depot, so that any sleeping passengers can be woken and offloaded.

But seriously, why would you get Platform 4 ready for increased use and not use it?

The Future Of The Mayflower Line

Wikipedia for Harwich Town station says this about services on the line.

As of December 2015 the typical weekday off-peak service is one train per hour to Manningtree, although there some additional services at peak times. Trains generally call at all stations along the Mayflower Line; some are extended to or from Colchester and/or London Liverpool Street.

I suspect that an ideal service would be at least two trains per hour (tph) on the line, which were timed to connect with fast services on the Great Eastern Main Line at Manningtree.

Currently there are direct trains in the Peak to and from Liverpool Street. The train, that I got to Manningtree last night was actually going to Harwich, after dividing into two at Colchester, with the front half of the train going on to Clacton-on-Sea.

In the new franchise, Greater Anglia will be running new Aventra trains on the branch. As they are buying five and ten-car trains, I would assume that the five-car version will work the Mayflower Line.

  • This will mean that there will be an increase in capacity on the line.
  • There will also be a large increase in comfort.
  • I would assume that two five-car trains are easily joined and separated to provide shared services, such as I experienced last night.
  • As the journey between Harwich Town and Manningtree takes twenty-two minutes, two trains would be needed to run a 2 tph service.

Running 2 tph may be a problem, as the electrification is one of the Treasury’s budget specials. Wikipedia says this.

The line diverges from the Great Eastern Main Line at Manningtree and is double-track for passenger services as far as Harwich International where connecting ferry services are available to Hoek van Holland and Esbjerg. Beyond Harwich International, the original second track remains in place as a through-siding, but only the “up” (Manningtree-bound) line was electrified and that section to Harwich Town is bi-directional.

But Bombardier may have a solution, in that the line was used for the BEMU trial, where a Class 379 train with an onboard battery, ran one way on the overhead wires, charging the battery at the same time.

As all Aventras will be wired to accept onboard energy storage, will we be seeing battery power on the Mayflower Line?

I think the answer is yes!

On my way to Manningtree, I was sitting next to a lady going to Harwich and when I talked about the battery train test of twenty months ago, she said she’d ridden the train and liked it. She didn’t qualify her initial statement with any negative statement.



October 19, 2016 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?

By training I am an Electrical Engineer who specialised at Liverpool University and for a few years afterwards in the mathematics of the control of mechanical, electrical and other systems.

Over the last fifty years, I’ve liked to think of myself as scientifically green and in transport, I’ve come to the belief that we need to be as electric as possible, as this can produce a minimum of carbon dioxide and less noxious fumes and noise.

We may have produced a series of battery-electric vehicles for special purposes such as golf buggies, the electric milk floats of my childhood and light taxis and buses for historic city centres.


Electric Taxi In Malta

Electric Taxi In Malta


But where are the queues of stylish electric cars waiting for the charging points in my local car park in Dalston?

In my view, electric road vehicles with one or two rare exceptions, don’t really appeal to drivers, owners and users. You read reports that the economics are suspect without large subsidies. That’s as maybe, but having once owned a golf buggy, I can testify that battery life and performance wasn’t acceptable to the special needs on my farm.

So when Bombardier, Network Rail, Greater Anglia and others announced they were going to test a Class 379 4-carriage train as a battery-electric multiple unit (BEMU), I either thought they had more money than sense or there was something I’d missed.

Riding The BEMU

A desire to investigate found me on a cold morning in February boarding what looked to be a outwardly normal Class 379 train at Manningtree.

An Outwardly Normal Class 379 Train

An Outwardly Normal Class 379 Train

The only visible difference was the Batteries Included sign on the side. Inside nothing appeared to have been changed

A Very Familiar Interior

A Very Familiar Interior

Except for the destination display showing we were going the dozen miles to Harwich Town.

As we trundled away and breezed down and back up the Stour Estuary, I could detect no difference between the two runs and between train 379013 and its unmodified siblings, which I use regularly to Cambridge. The conductor assured me that they generally went one way under AC power from the catenary and the other on the batteries.


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. 

It’s All About The Rolling Resistance

The physics of rolling resistance, explain why I was wrong to be sceptical and had now been so surprised and delighted by the Class 379 BEMU.

Most of us have driven a car with soft tyres and know that you need more power to maintain speed, as soft tyres have a higher rolling resistance.

Generally the rolling resistance of a steel wheel on a steel rail is lower, which helps trains move heavier loads for less power than road vehicles with rubber tyres.

But also if you read about the mathematics of rolling resistance, you will find that if you increase the load on a steel wheel running on a steel rail you lower the rolling resistance, so you can move the train for less power. This helps explain the impressive performance of the BEMU.

You have the paradox, that optimally-located heavy batteries, in a steel-wheel-on-rail vehicle, reduce the rolling resistance and mean it needs less power.

One of the most important  rules of life is that you can’t disobey the laws of physics.

A Hybrid Train

In some ways to consider this train a battery electric multiple unit is wrong, as its nearest cousin is probably the hybrid bus, such as the New Routemaster in London. In the bus the battery is charged by a small diesel engine and final drive is all-electric.

In the rest of this article, I will continue to use BEMU, but hybrid electric multiple unit or HEMU might be better. It could be argued that the general public associate hybrid with something good, so there may be sensible public relations reasons for calling the trains HEMUs.

Using a BEMU

One of the main uses of a BEMU would be on a cross-country route that connects two electrified lines. The overcrowded Cambridge to Ipswich route would certainly be possible, as the gap between Haughley Junction and Cambridge is short of thirty miles and well within the capability of a BEMU.

Another use of  a BEMU would be to extend an electrified route  to an important town that needed a rail link bigger than can be provided by a two-coach diesel train of a certain age. London to Great Yarmouth via Norwich would be a typical route.

Branch lines off an electrified main line, such as the Felixstowe branch would be ideal for a BEMU.

The three East Anglian examples I have given could probably be served without spending a penny on infrastructure.

The Greater Anglia Involvement

Greater Anglia’s involvement in the project is significant as East Anglia has several routes suitable for a BEMU, in addition to those mentioned earlier.

The trains would also give the company the ability to extend some of the Liverpool Street to Cambridge services to perhaps Norwich, Newmarket and Bury St. Edmunds.

Some gaps like Ely to Norwich, might be stretching the range, but the trains could give the soon-to-be-two Cambridge stations much better access to a wider East Anglia from Peterborough and Wisbech in the West, Norwich and Cromer in the North and Yarmouth and Ipswich in the East.

East Anglia seems to suffer more than most from track and overhead wire problems and rebuilding. A BEMU would make a superb blockade buster and could even have been used to get passengers to Peterborough, when all the problems happened on the East Coast Main Line at Christmas, by jumping the gap from Ely.

The rail network in East Anglia also suffers from periodic overcrowding, especially in the summer, so extra carriages on many services would be welcome to Greater Anglia and users alike.

East Anglia for so long a rail backwater would love these trains.

Advantages To Network Rail

Network Rail is an infrastructure company so why is it getting involved in the design of trains?

Network Rail has some problems with electrification due to well-publicised issues and in some cases the large quantity, they are being tasked to install, which puts pressure on manpower and resources.

In some sensitive areas, there may be planning issues with putting up the overhead wires. A simple example in Suffolk illustrates the value of a BEMU. It is unlikely the Gainsborough Line will ever be electrified, as it runs through the Stour Valley and the Nimbys would have a field day if Network Rail decided to put overhead line gantries on the iconic listed Chappel Viaduct, which is the second largest brick structure in England. But as the line is only a dozen miles long, running a BEMU on the line would be a sensible idea.

There are probably a lot of places where using a BEMU, rather than electrifying saves Network Rail a lot of installation costs and lawyers fees. Passengers would get a brand new and probably larger electric train, from the day they can be delivered and after the train crew has been trained.

Electrification of passenger services is a proven revenue generator, but predicting how much electrification will increase traffic, is one of the blackest of black arts. The difficulty is illustrated by the North and East London Lines, which were built to run the three-car trains that were thought to be required for the level of traffic. London Overground is now going through the second train lengthening process to cope, which is also requiring various infrastructure changes. If London can’t get this right with their massive journey databases, how can you predict traffic on a branch line in say Dorset or Norfolk? A shiny modern BEMU could be a valuable tool for assessing the increase in traffic, by trialling one for a period to ascertain what needs to be done to improve a service. The solution could be anything from bringing back the terrible diesel multiple unit, through using a BEMU on the line to full electrification.

I think it is true to say, that Network Rail could probably cut the cost of electrification and line improvements, by better planning of the work.

There are also innumerable lines in the United Kingdom, where the distance is less than sixty or seventy miles and both ends of the line are electrified, which are possibilities for running BEMUs.

  • Hurst Green to Lewes via Uckfield and the Marshlink Line in Sussex
  • The Tyne Valley Line between Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Many lines that link to electrified hubs like Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.
  • Lines in Scotland that link to the current electrification. This could include the new Borders Railway which is only thirty miles long.
  • Any branch from an electrified main line.

Unfortunately for everybody concerned, the hundred miles between Salisbury and Exeter is probably just too far to run on batteries at present. But this could be possible in a few years, as the technology develops.

Many routes with minimal partial electrification could accept a BEMU tomorrow, which could be a more affordable alternative to full electrification.

  1. Full electrification often needs a lot of bridge and tunnel reconstruction to give sufficient clearance to the wires. With a BEMU, this is unnecessary.
  2. Deployment of BEMUs, could also release much-needed modern diesel trains for use on lines away from electrification.

I would argue it’s better to spend the money on rolling stock, rather than use it to enlarge bridges and tunnels.

The Biggest Advantage To Rail Companies And Users

The biggest advantage of the technology is a truly unusual one, which is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

It’s that the new BEMUs start to run as soon as they are delivered and even before the electrification is complete.

Suppose you are possibly going to electrify a line like Carlisle to Newcastle, where both ends are already wired.

Traditionally, you can’t run any electric trains, until the electrification is complete.

But if you used BEMUs to operate the line, you can actually deliver the trains and bring in the new service pattern before you electrify using the power at both ends to charge the batteries.

After electrification, you might replace the BEMUs with a non-battery sibling and move the BEMUs to another line to repeat the process.

So the passengers benefit earlier from new trains. The train company should also benefit, as hopefully all the publicity of better and possibly longer trains generates extra journeys.

Instead of the speed of the electrification works governing the pace of line modernisation, the limiting factor is how fast trains can be built and any necessary much smaller infrastructure improvements like platform extensions are completed.

A Possible Production BEMU

The partners in this project seem to have come up with some fairly tight performance objectives for the train.

  1. A sixty plus mile range. This seems to bridge a lot of network electrification gaps and the length of out and return on the average branch line – Achieved
  1. Performance similar to the standard Class 379 and enough to work the average secondary or branch line – Achieved.
  1. No change of passenger experience to a standard Class 379 – Achieved
  1. Identical Driving Characteristics to a standard Class 379 – Achieved
  1. An overall experience better than a Pacer or a Sprinter – Achieved by a wide margin. I’ve also ridden modern Class 171 and Class 172 diesel multiple units lately and the Class 379 BEMU was certainly better in terms of ambient noise.

Bombardier could just create a Class 379 BEMU, but I suspect that the upcoming Aventra train chosen for Crossrail would be used. After all, why would you use a boring old train, when you could have a sexy new one? Especially one that is lighter and more energy efficient.  You could even borrow the use of a small on-board engine to charge the battery from the bus industry.

Probably the most difficult decision in the design is the train length, but why not make them all identical go-anywhere four carriage dual-voltage trains?

Incidentally, that go-anywhere capability will be enhanced when ERTMS becomes standard for all trains.

How Would BEMUs Affect Various Schemes?

The next few sections will look at various proposed schemes and how BEMUs might affect them.

The Felixstowe Branch

I’ve used the Felixstowe branch for over fifty years and the individual train capacity is now smaller than it was in the 1960s. But the frequency has improved and the service has got better since the Bacon Factory Chord was created.

It carries upwards of thirty freight trains each way every day and has long been mooted for electrification. Unless the complete route from
Felixstowe to Nuneaton and inside Felixstowe Port were also electrified, electrification of the branch line is probably a waste of time, as there would need to be a change of locomotive at some point.

I sometimes wonder if you want to have overhead wiring in a port or goods yard, with cranes lifting containers all the time.

I believe that the Class 88 locomotive is a better solution, as this would give electric haulage on electrified lines like the Great Eastern Main Line and diesel haulage on the branch and in the port.

Passengers on the line would like better and larger trains and this could be solved by a BEMU charging every time it returned to the Ipswich end of the branch.

Ipswich To Cambridge And Lowestoft

If you are going to run a BEMU from Ipswich to Felixstowe, then surely it would be a good idea to run the trains on the services from Ipswich to Cambridge and Lowestoft.

The gap between the overhead wires at Cambridge and Haughley Junction is less than thirty miles and would easily be jumped by a BEMU, charging itself at the two ends of the line.

Ipswich to Lowestoft is fifty miles which would certainly be too far for a BEMU going out and back on one filling of electricity at Ipswich. But as I believe a BEMU should be dual voltage, why not put in a shielded length of third-rail away from the platform side of the train in Lowestoft station. This picture shows the platform layout at Lowestoft with the current Norwich and Ipswich Class 156 trains in the platforms.

Two Class 156 At Lowestoft

Surely, Network Rail’s engineers can come up with a third-rail system in the station for charging BEMUs, that meets the most draconian Health and Safety regulations.

If BEMUs were to also run the Norwich to Lowestoft services, then you’d have electrified the passenger services to the United Kingdom’s most easterly town.

What would a picture of two Aventra BEMU profiles in Lowestoft station, do for the town?

Completing The East Anglian Electrification Of Passenger Services

If some means of range extending like a third-rail-based charger in some terminal stations, then there is no reason that all unelectrified lines in East Anglia could be run successfully by BEMUs. These would include.

  1. Cambridge and Ely to Norwich on the Breckland Line
  2. Norwich to Yarmouth on the Wherry Lines
  3. Norwich to Cromer and Sheringham on the Bittern Line
  4. Marks Tey to Sudbury on the Gainsborough Line

The BEMUs would also be an ideal train for the proposed re-opening of Bramley Line between Wisbech and March and the possible creation of the Norfolk Orbital Railway from Sheringham to Wymondham.

Completing The Electrification In East Sussex

East Sussex Council has produced a document called Shaping Rail In East Sussex, and also proposes the electrification of the Marshlink Line and improving and fully electrifying the Wealden Line and Oxted Line.

I believe that BEMUs could be the key to completing the electrification of this important commuter area and releasing sixteen Class 171 diesel multiple units for areas with no electrification at all.

As BEMUs would effectively be a one-for-one replacement for the Class 171 and no infrastructure work would be needed except for the track work at Lewes, as the new trains were delivered, a Class 171 could be released to go and replace a Pacer or Sprinter.

The Borders Railway

I suspect that various Scots and their politicians will be a bit miffed, that a beautiful new railway will be running second-hand trains. I suspect that something like Class 171 or Class 172 will be used, but wouldn’t it be nice if four-coach electric trains were to be used on the route.

As the route is not being electrified, but power is available at the Edinburgh end and the line is only sixty miles out and back, the line would be an ideal candidate for equipping with sexy new BEMUs.

The only problem is that the Scots have just signed a deal with Hitachi to deliver a whole stable of new AT200 electric trains.

However, it should be noted that Abellio Greater Anglia is one of the partners in the testing of the experimental Class 379 BEMU and that Abellio ScotRail is the new Scottish franchise holder.

Incidentally, Abellio’s parent; Nederlandse Spoorwegen still have sa few diesel multiple units, so perhaps they have other motives in being involved with the BEMU.

Glasgow Crossrail And The Airport Rail Link

Glasgow Crossrail is a proposal to improve rail services in Glasgow described like this in Wikipedia.

The proposed Crossrail initiative involves electrifying and reopening the City Union Line for regular passenger use in conjunction with new filler sections of track which will connect the North Clyde, Ayrshire, and Kilmarnock and East Kilbride suburban routes together, therefore allowing through running of services through the centre of Glasgow in a North-South axis.

It has been an on-and-off project over the years, as has the closely-related Glasgow Airport Rail Link.

Perhaps by selectively using BEMUs on the City Union Line, some of the major problems of rail transport in Scotland’s largest city can be alleviated, until the budget allows full electrification across the city.

Replacing Pacers Out Of Electrified Hubs

I asked in the title of this post if a new battery electric multiple unit (BEMU) could be a replacement for the truly-dreadful Pacers.

On some routes out of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and other electrified hubs, Pacers perform out and back services, which could probably be replaced by a BEMU.

As electrification progresses more and more, Pacers will find that they operate more of their routes partially under the wires. All of these routes will become candidates for BEMUs.

As the new trains will elsewhere displace some modern diesel multiple units, these could also probably chase a few Pacers to the scrapyard.

So in my view, new BEMUs may not always directly replace the Pacers, but they will certainly hasten their demise.

Should The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Electrified?

I know that freight is an important driver of electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, but how would the availability of a number of BEMUs affect how the work will proceed?

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is being electrified at a cost of £115million. In addition eight new four carriage trains are being ordered for the line.

Electrification of the line is said to be difficult, as there are numerous bridges and viaducts.

But the line is also desperately short of capacity for passengers and desperately needs the new electric trains.

As the line is partly electrified, why not drop the full electrification for a few years and buy eight new BEMUs?

They would pick up power east of Woodgrange Park station and around South Tottenham, leaving only about twenty miles to run on the batteries.

If the batteries need a top up at Gospel Oak, why not put in a short length of overhead wire at the western end of the line. Or heresy of heresies, a short length of third rail!

As circumstances and funds allowed the rest of the line would be electrified.

All of the flexibility in the schedule would be down to the unique characteristics of the BEMU.

Some residents along the line might be annoyed by the continuing noise and smell of the diesel freight locomotives passing through if the line remains without full electrification, but passengers will get twice as many carriages as at present, in brand new electric trains. Passengers won’t care that they’re powered by batteries, so long as they are reliable, comfortable and punctual


Who’d have thought that such a rather unusual concept of a battery electric multiple unit would have so many possibilities?

I think I’ve seen the future and it just might work!




February 10, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Felixstowe Docks and Landguard Fort

On Wednesday, I went to view the docks at Felixstowe and the restored Landguard Fort at the point opposite Harwich.  Note that I say docks, as I can remember when it was just a small square dock with a flour mill and a ferry across the river.  It is now the Port of Felixstowe and is the largest container port in the UK.

The fort is well worth a visit, although it has to be said despite living in Felixstowe in the 1960s, I didn’t visit it until the early years of this century.  Perhaps, it shows how we treat history.

I did though cycle to the other Felixstowe fort at the Dooley in those far-off days, where with friends we wandered all over the ruin.  Type “Dooley Fort Felixstowe” into Google and you’re find all sorts of memories of the place.

The Dooley Fort is now under the dock.  As is the Little Ships Hotel, the old dock basin and the army barracks.

This post is on a forum about Felixstowe.

It is very disappointing that whenever I visit Felixstowe I see more country side destroyed.

The Orwell estury was an area of natural beauty with marshland, shingle, sand & mud. It abounded with wild life. The creeks were full of shrimps, crabs, and I even found a sea urchin. You could collect winkles and as a child shore crabs.

The marshes were a wonderful place for collecting mushrooms. They were everywhere. The ruined Dooley Fort was a magical place. We kids spent many happy hours playing there while the Old Man was at the Dooley Pub sinking a few and a few more pints.

I can remember those times and the writer sums it all up well.  Especially, as the whole area behind the Port is now a sea of houses and supermarkets.  In the 1960s it was all green fields, except for the pub and a few cottages.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 13 Comments

A Small Note on a Grim History

I had to pick up a friend from the ferry at Harwich after football and whilst waiting I noticed the following.

Kindertransport Plaque at Harwich

Kindertransport Plaque at Harwich

We mustn’t forget what happened.  Especially, with all the troubles around the world.

I have no religion, but my family is a potent mix of Jew and Huguenot.  They all came to Britain because of oppression. 

Can anybody say that refugees in the past have not enriched our country and it’s culture?

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , | 1 Comment