The Anonymous Widower

Hitachi Targets Next Year For Testing Of Tri-Mode IET

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Testing of a five-car Hitachi Class 802/0 tri-mode unit will begin in 2022, and the train could be in traffic the following year.

It is expected that the train will save more than 20% of fuel on Great Western Railway’s London Paddington-Penzance route.

This is the Hitachi infographic, which gives the train’s specification.

I have a few thoughts and questions.

Will The Batteries Be Charged At Penzance?


  • It is probably not a good test of customer reaction to the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, if it doesn’t work on batteries in stations through Cornwall.
  • Every one of the eight stops in Cornwall will need an amount of battery power.
  • London trains seem to take at least half-an-hour to turn round at Penzance.
  • London trains seem to take around 7-13 minutes for the stop at Plymouth.

So I think, that batteries will probably need to be charged at Penzance and possibly Plymouth, to achieve the required battery running,

There is already sufficient time in the timetable.

A charging facility in Penzance station would be a good test of Hitachi’s method to charge the trains.

Will Hyperdrive Innovation’s Battery Pack Be A Simulated Diesel Engine?

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

How Many Trains Can Eventually Be Converted?

Great Western Railway have twenty-two Class 802/0 trains.

  • They are five-cars.
  • They have three diesel engines in cars 2, 3 and 4.
  • They have a capacity of 326 passengers.
  • They have an operating speed of 125 mph on electrification.
  • They will have an operating speed of 140 mph on electrification with in-cab ERTMS digital signalling.
  • They have an operating speed of 110 mph on diesel.
  • They can swap between electric and diesel mode at line speed.

Great Western Railway also have these trains that are similar.

  • 14 – nine-car Class 802/1 trains
  • 36 – five-car Class 800/0 trains
  • 21 – nine-car Class 800/3 trains


  1. The nine-car trains have five diesel engines in cars 2,3, 5, 7 and 8
  2. All diesel engines are similar, but those in Class 802 trains are more powerful, than those in Class 800 trains.

This is a total of 93 trains with 349 diesel engines.

In addition, there are these similar trains in service or on order with other operators.


  1. Class 801 trains have one diesel engine for emergency power.
  2. Class 803 trains have no diesel engines, but they do have a battery for emergency power.
  3. Class 805 trains have an unspecified number of diesel engines. I will assume three.
  4. Class 807 trains have no batteries or diesel engines.
  5. Class 810 trains have four diesel engines.

This is a total  of 150 trains with 395 diesel engines.

The Rail Magazine finishes with this paragraph.

Hitachi believes that projected improvements in battery technology, particularly in power output and charge, could enable diesel engines to be incrementally replaced on long-distance trains.

Could this mean that most diesel engines on these Hitachi trains are replaced by batteries?

Five-Car Class 800 And Class 802 Trains

These trains are mainly regularly used to serve destinations like Bedwyn, Cheltenham, Chester, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Oxford and Shrewsbury, which are perhaps up to fifty miles beyond the main line electrification.

  • They have three diesel engines, which are used when there is no electrification.
  • I can see many other destinations, being added to those reached by the Hitachi trains, that will need similar trains.

I suspect a lot of these destinations can be served by five-car Class 800 and Class 802 trains, where a number of the diesel engines are replaced by batteries.

Each operator would add a number of batteries suitable for their routes.

There are around 150 five-car bi-mode Hitachi trains in various fleets in the UK.

LNER’s Nine-Car Class 800 Trains

These are mainly used on routes between London and the North of Scotland.

In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I suggested that to run a zero-carbon service to Inverness and Aberdeen, LNER might acquire rakes of carriages hauled by zero-carbon hydrogen electric locomotives.

  • Hydrogen power would only be used North of the current electrification.
  • Scotland is looking to have plenty of hydrogen in a couple of years.
  • No electrification would be needed to be erected in the Highlands.
  • InterCity 225 trains have shown for forty years, that locomotive-hauled trains can handle Scottish services.
  • I also felt that the trains could be based on a classic-compatible design for High Speed Two.

This order could be ideal for Talgo to build in their new factory at Longannet in Fife.

LNER’s nine-car Class 800 trains could be converted to all-electric Class 801 trains and/or moved to another operator.

There is also the possibility to fit these trains with a number of battery packs to replace some of their five engines.

If the planned twenty percent fuel savings can be obtained, that would be a major improvement on these long routes.

LNER’s Class 801 Trains

These trains are are all-electric, but they do have a diesel engine for emergencies.

Will this be replaced by a battery pack to do the same job?

  • Battery packs are probably cheaper to service.
  • Battery packs don’t need diesel fuel.
  • Battery packs can handle regenerative braking and may save electricity.

The installation surely wouldn’t need too much test running, as a lot of testing will have been done in Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

East Coast Trains’ Class 803 Trains

These trains have a slightly different powertrain to the Class 801 trains. Wikipedia says this about the powertrain.

Unlike the Class 801, another non-bi-mode AT300 variant which despite being designed only for electrified routes carries a diesel engine per unit for emergency use, the new units will not be fitted with any, and so would not be able to propel themselves in the event of a power failure. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies would face a failure.

The trains are in the process of being built, so I suspect batteries can be easily fitted.

Could it be, that all five-car trains are identical body-shells, already wired to be able to fit any possible form of power? Hitachi have been talking about fitting batteries to their trains since at least April 2019, when I wrote, Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires.

  • I suspect that Hitachi will use a similar Hyperdrive Innovation design of battery in these trains, as they are proposing for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.
  • If all trains fitted with diesel engines, use similar MTU units, would it not be sensible to only use one design of battery pack?
  • I suspect, that as the battery on a Class 803 train, will be mainly for emergency use, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that these trains could be the first to run in the UK, with a battery.
  • The trains would also be simpler, as they are only battery-electric and not tri-mode. This would make the software easier to develop and test.

If all trains used the same battery pack design, then all features of the pack, would be available to all trains to which it was fitted.

Avanti West Coast’s Class 805 Trains

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, which was based on an article with the same time in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, I gave this quote from the magazine article.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.


  1. Hitachi use diesel engines with different ratings in Class 800 and Class 802 trains, so can probably choose something suitable.
  2. The Class 805 trains are scheduled to be in service by 2022.
  3. As they are five-cars like some Class 800 and Class 802 trains will they have the same basic structure and a powertrain with three diesel engines in cars 2, 3 and 4?

I think shares a basic structure and powertrain will be very likely, as there isn’t enough time to develop a new train.

I can see that as Hitachi and Great Western Railway learn more about the performance of the battery-equipped Class 802 trains on the London and Penzance route, that batteries could be added to Avanti West Coast’s Class 805 trains. After all London Euston and North Wales and London Paddington and Cornwall are routes with similar characteristics.

  • Both routes have a high speed electrified section out of London.
  • They have a long section without electrification.
  • Operating speeds on diesel are both less than 100 mph, with sections where they could be as low as 75 mph.
  • The Cornish route has fifteen stops and the Welsh route has seven, so using batteries in stations will be a welcome innovation for passengers and those living near the railway.

As the order for the Avanti West Coast trains was placed, whilst Hitachi were probably designing their battery electric upgrade to the Class 800 and Class 802 trains, I can see batteries in the Class 805 trains becoming an early reality.

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, I also said this.

Does the improvement in powertrain efficiency with smaller engines running the train at slower speeds help to explain this statement from the Modern Railways article?

Significant emissions reduction are promised from the elimination of diesel operation on electrified sections as currently seen with the Voyagers, with an expected reduction in CO2 emissions across the franchise of around two-thirds.

That is a large reduction, which is why I feel, that efficiency and batteries must play a part.


  1. The extract says that they are expected savings not an objective for some years in the future.
  2. I have not done any calculations on how it might be achieved, as I have no data on things like engine size and expected battery capacity.
  3. Hitachi are aiming for 20 % fuel and carbon savings on London Paddington and Cornwall services.
  4. Avanti West Coast will probably only be running Class 805 trains to Chester, Shrewsbury and North Wales.
  5. The maximum speed on any of the routes without electrification is only 90 mph. Will less powerful engines be used to cut carbon emissions?

As Chester is 21 miles, Gobowen is 46 miles, Shrewsbury is 29.6 miles and Wrexham General is 33 miles from electrification, could these trains have been designed with two diesel engines and a battery pack, so that they can reach their destinations using a lot less diesel.

I may be wrong, but it looks to me, that to achieve the expected reduction in CO2 emissions, the trains will need some radical improvements over those currently in service.

Avanti West Coast’s Class 807 Trains

In the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, is an article, which is entitled Hitachi Trains For Avanti.

This is said about the ten all-electric Class 807 trains for Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool services.

The electric trains will be fully reliant on the overhead wire, with no diesel auxiliary engines or batteries.

It may go against Hitachi’s original design philosophy, but not carrying excess weight around, must improve train performance, because of better acceleration.

I believe that these trains have been designed to be able to go between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations in under two hours.

I show how in Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?


  • Current London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street timings are two hours and thirteen or fourteen minutes.
  • I believe that the Class 807 trains could perhaps be five minutes under two hours, with a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • I have calculated in the linked post, that only nine trains would be needed.
  • The service could have dedicated platforms at London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • For comparison, High Speed Two is promising one hour and thirty-four minutes.

This service would be a Marketing Manager’s dream.

I can certainly see why they won’t need any diesel engines or battery packs.

East Midland Railway’s Class 810 Trains

The Class 810 trains are described like this in their Wikipedia entry.

The Class 810 is an evolution of the Class 802s with a revised nose profile and facelifted end headlight clusters, giving the units a slightly different appearance. Additionally, there will be four diesel engines per five-carriage train (versus three on the 800s and 802s), and the carriages will be 2 metres (6.6 ft) shorter.

In addition, the following information has been published about the trains.

  • The trains are expected to be capable of 125 mph on diesel.
  • Is this speed, the reason for the fourth engine?
  • It is planned that the trains will enter service in 2023.

I also suspect, that like the Class 800, Class 802 and Class 805 trains, that diesel engines will be able to be replaced with battery packs.

Significant Dates And A Possible Updating Route For Hitachi Class 80x Trains

I can put together a timeline of when trains are operational.

  • 2021 – Class 803 trains enter service.
  • 2022 – Testing of prototype Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train
  • 2022 – Class 805 trains enter service.
  • 2022 – Class 807 trains enter service.
  • 2023 – First production Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train enters service.
  • 2023 – Class 810 trains enter service.


  1. It would appear to me, that Hitachi are just turning out trains in a well-ordered stream from Newton Aycliffe.
  2. As testing of the prototype Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train proceeds, Hitachi and the operators will learn how, if batteries can replace some or even all of the diesel engines, the trains will have an improved performance.
  3. From about 2023, Hitachi will be able to design tri-mode trains to fit a customer’s requirements.
  4. Could the powertrain specification of the Class 810 trains change, in view of what is shown by the testing of the prototype Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train?
  5. In parallel, Hyperdrive Innovation will be building the battery packs needed for the conversion.

Batteries could be fitted to the trains in three ways,

  • They could be incorporated into new trains on the production line.
  • Batteries could be fitted in the depots, during a major service.
  • Trains could be returned to Newton Aycliffe for battery fitment.

Over a period of years as many trains as needed could be fitted with batteries.


I believe there is a plan in there somewhere, which will convert many of Hitachi’s fleets of trains into tri-mode trains with increased performance, greater efficiency and less pollution and carbon emissions.



January 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shooter Urges Caution On Hydrogen Hubris

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

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter has urges caution about the widespread enthusiasm for hydrogen technology. In his keynote speech to the Golden Spanner Awards on 27 November, Mr. Shooter said the process to create ‘green hydrogen’ by electrolysis is ‘a wasteful use of electricity’ and was skeptical about using electricity to create hydrogen to then use a fuel cell to power a train, rather than charging batteries to power a train. ‘What you will discover is that a hydrogen train uses 3.5 times as much electricity because of inefficiencies in the electrolysis process and also in the fuel cells’ said Mr. Shooter. He also noted the energy density of hydrogen at 350 bar is only one-tenth of a similar quantity of diesel fuel, severely limiting the range of a hydrogen-powered train between refuelling.

Mr. Shooter then made the following points.

  • The complexity of delivering hydrogen to the railway depots.
  • The shorter range available from the amount of hydrogen that can be stored on a train compared to the range of a diesel train.
  • He points out limitations with the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

This is the last paragraph.

Whilst this may have seemed like a challenge designed purely to promote the battery alternatives that Vivarail is developing, and which he believes to be more efficient, Mr. Shooter explained: ‘I think that hydrogen fuel cell trains could work in this country, but people just need to remember that there are downsides. I’m sure we’ll see some, and in fact we should because competition improves the breed.’

i think Mr. Shooter may have made several good points.

These are my thoughts.

Creating Green Hydrogen

I haven’t done an analysis of the costs of creating green hydrogen from electrolysis, but I have a feeling, that electrolysis won’t be the only way to create large amounts of carbon-free hydrogen, in a few years.

These methods are currently available or under development or construction.

  • The hydrogen tram-buses in Pau have a personal electrolyser, that provides hydrogen at 350 bar.
  • London’s hydrogen buses will be provided with hydrogen from an electrolyser at Herne Bay by truck. Will the trucks be hydrogen-powered?

Some industrial processes like the Castner-Kellner process create hydrogen as a by-product.

In Shell Process To Make Blue Hydrogen Production Affordable, I describe the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which appears to be a way of making massive amounts of carbon-free hydrogen for processes like steel-making and cement production. Surely some could be piped or transported by truck to the rail depot.

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I describe how ITM Power and Ørsted plan to create the hydrogen off shore and bring it by pipeline to the shore.


  1. The last two methods could offer savings in the cost of production of carbon-free hydrogen.
  2. Surely, the delivery trucks if used, must be hydrogen-powered.
  3. The Shell Blue Hydrogen Process uses natural gas as a feedstock and converts it to hydrogen using a newly-developed catalyst. The carbon-dioxide is captured and used or stored.
  4. If the local gas network has been converted to hydrogen, the hydrogen can be delivered to the depot or filling station through that gas network.

I very much feel that affordable hydrogen can be supplied to bus, train, tram or transport depot. For remote or difficult locations. personal electrolysers, powered by renewable electricity, can be used, as at Pau.

Hydrogen Storage On Trains

Liquid hydrogen could be the answer and Airbus are developing methods of storing large quantities on aircraft.

In What Size Of Hydrogen Tank Will Be Needed On A ZEROe Turbofan?, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed for this ZEROe Turbofan.

I calculate that to carry the equivalent amount of fuel to an Airbus A320neo would need a liquid hydrogen tank with a near 100 cubic metre capacity. This sized tank would fit in the rear fuselage.

I feel that in a few years, a hydrogen train will be able to carry enough liquid hydrogen in a fuel tank, but the fuel tank will be large.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed to provide the same amount of energy as that carried in a full diesel tank on a Class 68 locomotive.

The locomotive would need 19,147 litres or 19.15 cubic metres of liquid hydrogen, which could be contained in a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 2 metres and a length of 6 metres.

Hydrogen Locomotives Or Multiple Units?

We have only seen first generation hydrogen trains so far.

This picture shows the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is a conversion of a Coradia Lint.

It is a so-so train and works reasonably well, but the design means there is a lot of transmission noise.

This is a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze or Class 600 train.

Note that the front half of the first car of the train, is taken up with a large hydrogen tank. It will be the same at the other end of the train.

As Mr. Shooter said, Alstom are converting a three-car train into a two-car train. Not all conversions live up to the hype of their proposers.

I would hope that the next generation of a hydrogen train designed from scratch, will be a better design.

I haven’t done any calculations, but I wonder if a lighter weight vehicle may be better.

Hydrogen Locomotives

I do wonder, if hydrogen locomotives are a better bet and easier to design!

  • There is a great need all over the world for zero-carbon locomotives to haul freight trains.
  • Powerful small gas-turbine engines, that can run on liquid hydrogen are becoming available.
  • Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW gas-turbine generator, that is the size of a beer-keg.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I wondered if the Rolls-Royce generator could power a locomotive, the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that there are several routes to a hydrogen-powered railway locomotive and all the components could be fitted into the body of a diesel locomotive the size of a Class 68 locomotive.


  • Decarbonising railway locomotives and ships could be a large market.
  • It offers the opportunities of substantial carbon reductions.
  • The small size of the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator must offer advantages.
  • Some current diesel-electric locomotives might be convertible to hydrogen power.

I very much feel that companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins (and Caterpillar!), will move in and attempt to claim this lucrative worldwide market.

In the UK, it might be possible to convert some existing locomotives to zero-carbon, using either liquid hydrogen, biodiesel or aviation biofuel.

Perhaps, hydrogen locomotives could replace Chiltern Railways eight Class 68 locomotives.

  • A refuelling strategy would need to be developed.
  • Emissions and noise, would be reduced in Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations.
  • The rakes of carriages would not need any modifications to use existing stations.

It could be a way to decarbonise Chiltern Railways without full electrification.

It looks to me that a hydrogen-powered locomotive has several advantages over a hydrogen-powered multiple unit.

  • It can carry more fuel.
  • It can be as powerful as required.
  • Locomotives could work in pairs for more power.
  • It is probably easier to accommodate the hydrogen tank.
  • Passenger capacity can be increased, if required by adding more coaches.

It should also be noted that both hydrogen locomotives and multiple units can build heavily on technology being developed for zero-carbon aviation.

The Upward Curve Of Battery Power

Sparking A Revolution is the title an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is mainly an interview with  Andrew Barr of Hitachi Rail.

The article contains a box, called Costs And Power, where this is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2030 and £47/kWh in 3030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) are predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1400 Wh/l in 2-35, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

These are impressive improvements that can only increase the performance and reduce the cost of batteries in all applications.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This infographic gives the specification of Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which they are creating in partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation.

Note that Hitachi are promising a battery life of 8-10 years.

Financing Batteries

This paragraph is from this page on BuyaCar, which is entitled Electric Car Battery Leasing: Should I Lease Or Buy The Batteries?

When you finance or buy a petrol or diesel car it’s pretty simple; the car will be fitted with an engine. However, with some electric cars you have the choice to finance or buy the whole car, or to pay for the car and lease the batteries separately.

I suspect that battery train manufacturers, will offer similar finance models for their products.

This paragraph is from this page on the Hyperdrive Innovation web site.

With a standardised design, our modular product range provides a flexible and scalable battery energy storage solution. Combining a high-performance lithium-ion NMC battery pack with a built in Battery Management System (BMS) our intelligent systems are designed for rapid deployment and volume manufacture, supplying you with class leading energy density and performance.

I can envisage that as a battery train ages, every few years or so, the batteries will get bigger electrically, but still be the same physical size, due to the improvements in battery technology, design and manufacture.

I have been involved in the finance industry both as a part-owner of a small finance company and as a modeller of the dynamics of their lending. It looks to me, that train batteries could be a very suitable asset for financing by a fund. But given the success of energy storage funds like Gore Street and Gresham House, this is not surprising.

I can envisage that battery electric trains will be very operator friendly, as they are likely to get better with age and they will be very finance-friendly.

Charging Battery Trains

I must say something about the charging of battery trains.

Battery trains will need to be charged and various methods are emerging.

Using Existing Electrification

This will probably be one of the most common methods used, as many battery electric services will be run on partly on electrified routes.

Take a typical route for a battery electric train like London Paddington and Oxford.

  • The route is electrified between London Paddington and Didcot Junction.
  • There is no electrification on the 10.4 miles of track between Didcot Junction and Oxford.

If a full battery on the train has sufficient charge to take the train from Didcot Junction to Oxford and back, charging on the main line between London Paddington and Didcot Junction, will be all that will be needed to run the service.

I would expect that in the UK, we’ll be seeing battery trains using both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

Short Lengths Of New Strategic Electrification

I think that Great Western Railway would like to run either of Hitachi’s two proposed battery electric trains to Swansea.

As there is 45.7 miles pf track without .electrification, some form of charging in Swansea station, will probably be necessary.

The easiest way would probably be to electrify Swansea station and perhaps for a short distance to the North.

This Google Map shows Swansea station and the railway leading North.


  1. There is a Hitachi Rail Depot at the Northern edge of the map.
  2. Swansea station is in South-West corner of the map.
  3. Swansea station has four platforms.

Swansea station would probably make an excellent battery train hub, as trains typically spend enough time in the station to fully charge the batteries before continuing.

There are other tracks and stations of the UK, that I would electrify to enable the running of battery electric trains.

  • Leeds and York, which would enable carbon-free London and Edinburgh services via Leeds and help TransPennine services. This is partially underway.
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – These two sections would enable EMR InterCity services to go battery electric.
  • Sheffield and Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley Dearne Valley and the Wakefield Line, which would enable four trains per hour (tph) between Sheffield and Leeds and an extension of EMR InterCity services to Leeds.
  • Hull and Brough, would enable battery electric services to Hull and Beverley.
  • Scarborough and Seamer, would enable electric services services to Scarborough and between Hull and Scarborough.
  • Middlesbrough and Redcar, would enable electric services services to Teesside.
  • Crewe and Chester and around Llandudno Junction station – These two sections would enable Avanti West Coast service to Holyhead to go battery electric.
  • Shrewsbury station – This could become a battery train hub, as I talked about for Swansea.
  • Taunton and Exeter and around Penzance, Plymouth and Westbury stations – These three sections would enable Great Western Railway to cut a substantial amount of carbon emissions.
  • Exeter, Yeovil Junction and Salisbury stations. – Electrifying these three stations would enable South Western Railway to run between London and Exeter using Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, as I wrote in Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints.

We will also need fast chargers for intermediate stations, so that a train can charge the batteries on a long route.

I know of two fast chargers under development.

I believe it should be possible to battery-electrify a route by doing the following.

  • Add short lengths of electrification and fast charging systems as required.
  • Improve the track, so that trains can use their full performance.
  • Add ERTMS signalling.
  • Add some suitable trains.


  1. I feel ERTMS  signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be used with automatic charging systems, to make station stops more efficient.
  2. In my view, there is no point in installing better modern trains, unless the track is up to their performance.

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Limach And Hyperdrive Partner On Electric Machines

The title of this post, is the same as that as of this article on International Rental News.

This second deal from Hyperdrive Innovation is with Dutch excavator manufacturer Limach.

This paragraph from the article is important.

The construction industry is responsible for 40% of European carbon emissions, making it an urgent priority for decarbonisation to meet net zero targets.

That is a lot of carbon.

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Business, Energy Storage | , , , | 2 Comments

Multi-Million-Pound Battery Partnership Announced

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Hyperdrive Innovation, the UK’s leading designer and manufacturer of lithium-ion battery technology, today announces a new multi-million-pound 4-year supply agreement with Moffett, part of Hiab and world leading forklift truck manufacturer, to supply state-of-the-art battery packs for zero-emission machinery.

This seems to be a big deal for the Sunderland-based manufacturer, who are also working with Hitachi to provide battery packs for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

Hyperdrive Innovation certainly must be developing some of the best battery technology available.

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Business, Energy Storage, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric


  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.


  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York and Durham
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common and York.

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line, as against High Speed Two, which will be a 225 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.


I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?

The latest High Speed Two schedule was published in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Two Train Classes

Two separate train classes have been proposed for High Speed Two.

Full-Size – Wider and taller trains built to a European loading gauge, which would be confined to the high-speed network (including HS1 and HS2) and other lines cleared to their loading gauge.

Classic-Compatible – Conventional trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two has a section entitled Rolling Stock, where this is said about the design.

Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 360 km/h (225 mph) and a length of 200 metres (660 ft); two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train. It has been reported that these longer trains would have approximately 1,100 seats.

These are some of my thoughts.

Seating Density

I would assume that this means that a single 200 metre train, will have a capacity of approximately 550 seats or a density of 2.75 seats per metre. How does that compare with other trains?

  • 9-car Class 801 train – 234 metres – 611 seats – 2.61 seats/metre
  • 7-car Class 807 train – 182 metres – 453 seats – 2.49 seats/metre
  • 9-car Class 390 train  – 217.5 metres – 469 seats – 2.16 seats/metre
  • 11-car Class 390 train  – 265.3 metres – 589 seats – 2.22 seats/metre
  • 12-car Class 745/1 train – 236.6 metres – 767 seats – 3.24 seats/metre
  • 16-car Class 374 train – 390 metres – 902 seats – 2.31 seats/metre

What I find strange with these figures, is that I feel most crowded and cramped in a Class 390 train. Could this be because the Pendelino trains are eighteen years old and train interior design has moved on?

But I always prefer to travel in a Hitachi Class 80x train or a Stadler Class 745 train.

I very much feel that a seating density of 2.75 seats per metre, designed using some of the best modern practice, could create a train, where travelling is a very pleasant experience.

Step-Free Access

I have travelled in high speed trains all over Europe and have yet to travel in one with step-free access.

Surely, if Stadler can give their trains step-free access everybody can.

The pictures shows step-free access on Stadler Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

If I turned up pushing a friend in a wheelchair, would I be able to push them in easily? Or better still will they be able to wheel themselves in?

A Greater Anglia driver once said to me, that they never have to wait anymore for wheelchairs to be loaded.

So surely, it is in the train operator’s interest to have step-free access, if it means less train delays.

Double-Deck Trains

In my view double-deck trains only have one only good feature and that is the ability to see everything, if you have a well-designed window seat.

I may be seventy-three, but I am reasonably fit and only ever travel on trains with airline-sized hand baggage. So I don’t find any problem travelling upstairs on a double-deck bus or train!

But it could have been, so very different, if my stroke had been a bit worse and left me blind or in a wheelchair for life.

I have seen incidents on the Continent, which have been caused by double-deck trains.

  • A lady of about eighteen in trying to get down with a heavy case dropped it. Luckily it only caused the guy she was travelling with, to roll unhurt down the stairs.
  • Luggage is often a problem on Continental trains because of the step-up into the train and access is worse on double deck trains.
  • I also remember on a train at Leipzig, when several passengers helped me lift a guy and his wheelchair out of the lower deck of a double-deck train, which was lower than the platform, as they often are with double-deck trains.

I am not totally against double-deck trains, but they must be designed properly.


  • High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains will only use London Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.
  • All stations used by Full-Size trains will be brand-new or substantially rebuilt stations.
  • Someone sitting in a wheelchair surely has the same right to a view from the top-deck of a double-deck train as anybody else.
  • Jumbo jets seemed to do very well without a full-length top-deck.
  • The A 380 Superjumbo has been designed so that entry and exit on both decks is possible.

I feel if High Speed Two want to run double-deck trains, an elegant solution can surely be found.

A Crude Estimate On The Number Of Trains

This is my crude estimate to find out how many trains, High Speed Two will need.

Western Leg

These are the services for the Western Leg between London , Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Train 1 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Lancaster – Classic Compatible – 2 hours 3 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 34 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 5 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 34 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 6 – London Euston and Macclesfield – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 30 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 8 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 9 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 48 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 40 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 48 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 40 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 12 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh or Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 20 minutes – 7 hour Round Trip – 7 trains
  • Train 13 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size – 41 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 14 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size – 41 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains


  1. I have assumed 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. I think that trains 4 and 5 work an intricate dance with appropriate splitting and joining at Crewe.
  3. The full schedule will need 34 Full-Size trains and 56 Classic-Compatible trains

According to Wikipedia, the first order will be for 54 Classic-Compatible trains, so I would assume, that more trains will be ordered.

Eastern Leg

These are the services for the Eastern Leg between London , Birmingham, East Midlands Hub, Leeds, Sheffield, York and Newcastle.

  • Train 15 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre Full-Size – 49 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 16 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre Full-Size – 49 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 17 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 57 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 18 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 27 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 18 – London Euston and Leeds – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 3 trains
  • Train 19 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 20 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 21 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 27 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 21 – London Euston and York – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 24 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 3 trains
  • Train 22 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 2 hour 17 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 23 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 2 hour 17 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains


  1. I have assumed 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. Trains 15 and 16 work as a pair
  3. I think that trains 18 and 21 work an intricate dance with appropriate splitting and joining at East Midlands Hub.
  4. The full schedule will need 16 Full-Size trains and 29 Classic-Compatible trains

Adding the two legs together and I estimate that 50 Full-Size trains and 85 Classic-Compatible trains, will be needed to run a full schedule.

Trains Per Hour On Each Section

It is possible to make a table of how many trains run on each section of the High Speed Two network in trains per hour (tph)

  • London Euston (stops) – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • London Euston and Old Oak Common – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Old Oak Common (stops) – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Birmingham Interchange (stops) – 2, 3, 7, 11, 20 – 5 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street (stops) – 1-3, 12-14, 15-17 – 9 tph
  • Birmingham and Crewe – 4,5, 7-9, 10-14 – 10 tph
  • Crewe (stops) – 4,5 – 2 tph
  • Crewe and Liverpool – 4,5 – 2 tph
  • Crewe and Lancaster – 4, 10-12 – 4 tph
  • Crewe and Manchester – 7-9, 13, 14 – 5 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via Warrington – 4 – 1 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via High Speed Two (new route) – 10-12 – 3 tph
  • Lancaster (stops) 4 – 1 tph
  • Lancaster and Carlisle  – 10-12 – 3 tph
  • Carlisle and Edinburgh – 10-12 – 2.5 tph
  • Carlisle and Glasgow – 10-12 – 2.5 tph
  • Birmingham and Stoke – 6 – 1 tph
  • Stoke (stops) – 6 – 1 tph
  • Stoke and Macclesfield – 6 – 1 tph
  • Macclesfield (stops) – 6 – 1 tph
  • Birmingham and East Midlands Hub – 15-17, 18-20, 21-23 – 9 tph
  • East Midlands Hub (stops) – 15-17, 18-20, 21 – 7 tph
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield – 18, 21 – 2 tph
  • Sheffield (stops) – 18, 21 – 2 tph
  • Midlands Hub and Leeds – 15, 16, 18-20 – 5 tph
  • Leeds (stops) – 15, 16, 18-20 – 5 tph
  • East Midlands Hub and York – 17, 21-23 – 4 tph
  • York (stops) – 17, 21-23 – 4 tph
  • York and Newcastle – 17, 22, 23 – 3 tph
  • Newcastle (stops) – 17, 22, 23 – 3 tph

These are a few thoughts.

Capacity Of The Southern Leg

The busiest section is between London Euston and Birmingham Interchange, which handles 17 tph.

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives a path for recovery, according to the article.

Trains Serving Euston

The following train types serve London Euston station.

  • Full-Size – 8 tph
  • 400 metre Classic-Compatible – 5 tph
  • 200 metre Classic-Compatible – 4 tph

As a 200 metre long train needs the same track and platform resources as a 400 metre long train, by splitting and joining, it would appear that extra destinations could be served.

Platform Use At Euston

This page on the High Speed Two web site, gives details of Euston High Speed Two station.

HS2 will deliver eleven new 400m long platforms, a new concourse and improved connections to Euston and Euston Square Underground stations. Our design teams are also looking at the opportunity to create a new northerly entrance facing Camden Town as well as new east-west links across the whole station site.

So how will the eleven platforms be used?

Destinations served from London are planned to be as follows.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • Lancaster – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Leeds – Full-Size – 2 tph – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

Liverpool – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph

  • Macclesfield – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • Sheffield – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • York – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

That is ten destinations and there will be eleven platforms.

I like it! Lack of resources is often the reason systems don’t work well and there are certainly enough platforms.

Could platforms be allocated something like this?

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – Full-Size
  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible
  • Leeds – Full-Size
  • Liverpool – Classic-Compatible – Also serves Lancaster
  • Macclesfield – Classic-Compatible
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible
  • Sheffield – Classic-Compatible – Also serves Leeds and York


  1. No  platform handles more than three tph.
  2. There are three spare platforms.
  3. Each platform would only be normally used by one train type.
  4. Only Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub, Leeds, Preston and York are not always served from the same platform.

Platform arrangements could be very passenger- and operator-friendly.

Platform Use At Birmingham Curzon Street

Birmingham Curzon Street station has been designed to have seven platforms.

Destinations served from Birmingham Curzon Street station are planned to be as follows.

  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Leeds – Full-Size – 2 tph
  • London Euston – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size – 2 tph
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Nottingham – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph


  1. The Nottingham service has been proposed by Midlands Engine Rail, but will be running High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  2. That is six destinations and there will be seven platforms.

I like it! For the same reason as London Euston.

Could platforms be allocated something like this?

  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible
  • Leeds – Full-Size
  • London Euston – Full-Size
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size
  • Newcastle/Nottingham – Classic-Compatible


  1. No  platform handles more than three tph.
  2. There are two spare platforms.
  3. Each platform would only be normally used by one train type.
  4. Only East Midlands Hub is not always served from the same platform.

Platform arrangements could be very passenger- and operator-friendly.

Back-to-Back Services via Birmingham Curzon Street

The current plan for High Speed Two envisages the following services between the main terminals served by Full-Size trains.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 tph – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and Leeds – 2 tph – 81 minutes
  • London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly – 3 tph – 71 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 2 tph – 40 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly – 2 tph – 41 minutes

Suppose a traveller wanted to go between East Midlands Hub and Manchester Airport stations.

Wouldn’t it be convenient if the Leeds to Birmingham Curzon Street train, stopped in Birmingham Curzon Street alongside the train to Manchester Airport and Piccadilly, so passengers could just walk across?

Or the two services could be run Back-to-Back with a reverse in Birmingham Curzon Street station?


  1. The current fastest times between Nottingham and Manchester Airport stations are around two-and-a-half hours, with two changes.
  2. With High Speed Two, it looks like the time could be under the hour, even allowing up to eight minutes for the change at Birmingham Curzon Street.

The design of the track and stations for High Speed Two, has some interesting features that will be exploited by the train operator, to provide better services.

Capacity Of The Western Leg Between Birmingham And Crewe

The section is between Birmingham and Crewe, will be running 10 tph.

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

High Speed One copes well with a few interlopers in the shape of Southeastern’s Class 395 trains, which run at 140 mph, between the Eurostars.

High Speed Two is faster, but what is to stop an operator running their own Classic-Compatible trains on the following routes.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Liverpool via Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Holyhead via Crewe, Chester and an electrified North Wales Coast Line.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Blackpool via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Blackburn and Burnley via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.


  1. If these trains were say 130 metres long, they could call at all stations, without any platform lengthening.
  2. I’m sure that the clever engineers at Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation could come up with battery electric Classic-Compatible train, that could run at 225 mph on High Speed Two and had a battery range to reach Holyhead, with a small amount of electrification.
  3. A pair of trains, could work the last two services with a Split/Join at Preston.

The advantages of terminating these service in Birmingham Curzon Street would be as follows.

  • A lot more places get a fast connection to the High Speed Two network.
  • Passengers can reach London with an easy change at Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • They can also walk easily between the three Birmingham stations.

But the big advantage is the trains don’t use valuable paths on High Speed Two between Birmingham Curzon Street and London Euston.

Crewe Station

In the current Avanti West Coast timetable, the following trains pass through Crewe.

  • London Euston and Blackpool – 4 trains per day (tpd)
  • London Euston and Chester – 1 tph
  • London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Liverpool – 1 tph
  • London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph

Most trains stop at Crewe.

In the proposed High Speed Two timetable, the following trains will pass through Crewe.

  • London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Lancaster/Liverpool – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Manchester – 3 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh/Glasgow  -1 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 2 tph


  1. Only the Lancaster and Liverpool trains stop at Crewe station.
  2. North of Crewe there will be a three-way split of High Speed Two routes to Liverpool, Wigan and the North and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  3. High Speed Two will loop to the East and then join the West Coast Main Line to the South of Wigan.
  4. High Speed Two trains will use the West Coast Main Line to the North of Wigan North Western station.

This map of High Speed Two in North West England was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.




  1. The current West Coast Main Line (WCML) and Phase 2a of High Speed Two are shown in blue.
  2. Phase 2b of High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  3. The main North-South route, which is shown in blue, is the WCML passing through Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western as it goes North.
  4. The Western Branch, which is shown in blue, is the Liverpool Branch of the WCML, which serves Runcorn and Liverpool.
  5. High Speed Two, which is shown in orange, takes a faster route between Crewe and Wigan North Western.
  6. The Eastern Branch, which is shown in orange, is the Manchester Branch of High Speed Two, which serves Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  7. The route in the East, which is shown in blue, is the Macclesfield Branch of High Speed Two, which serves Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield.

The route of Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester Airport and Liverpool has still to be finalised.

Liverpool Branch


  • The Liverpool Branch will take  two tph between London Euston and Liverpool.
  • In the future it could take up to 6 tph on Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.

I believe that Liverpool Lime Street station, after the recent updating can handle all these trains.

Manchester Branch

This document on the Government web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation.

It indicates two important recently-made changes to the design of the Manchester Branch of High Speed Two.

  • Manchester Airport station will have four High Speed platforms instead of two.
  • Manchester Piccadilly station will have six High Speed platforms instead of four.

These changes will help the use of these stations by Northern Powerhouse Rail..


  • The Manchester Branch will be new high speed track, which will probably be built in a tunnel serving Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • The Manchester Branch will terminate in new platforms.
  • The Manchester Branch will take  five tph between Birmingham Curzon Street or London Euston and Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • In the future it could take up to six tph on Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.
  • London Euston and Old Oak Common will be new stations on a tunnelled approach to London and will handle 18 tph.

If London Euston and Old Oak Common can handle 18 tph, I can’t see why Manchester Airport and Piccadilly stations can’t handle somewhere near a similar number of trains.

At the moment eleven tph have been allocated to the Manchester Branch.

I believe that if infrastructure for Northern Powerhouse Rail was designed so that as well as connecting to Manchester and Liverpool, it connected Manchester and the West Coast Main Line running North to Preston, Carlisle and Scotland, services to the following destinations would be possible.

  • Barrow
  • Blackburn
  • Blackpool
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Windermere


  1. Edinburgh and Glasgow would probably be a service that would alternate the destination, as it is proposed for High Speed Two’s Birmingham and Scotland service.
  2. There would probably be a need for a North Wales and Manchester service via Chester.
  3. All trains would be Classic-Compatible.

If the Manchester Branch were to be built to handle 18 tph, there would be more than enough capacity.

Crewe, Wigan And Manchester

My summing up earlier gave the number of trains between Crewe, Wigan and Manchester as follows.

  • Crewe and Manchester – 5 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via Warrington  – 1 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via High Speed Two (new route) – 3 tph

This map of High Speed Two where the Manchester Branch leaves the new High Speed Two route between Crewe and Wigan was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.


  1. The Manchester Branch runs to the South of the M56,
  2. The large blue dot indicates Manchester Airport station.
  3. Wigan is to the North.
  4. Crewe is to the South.
  5. Manchester Piccadilly is to the North East.

I believe this junction will be turned into a full triangular junction, to connect Wigan directly to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.

  • Barrow, Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston and Windermere could all have high speed connections to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. Trains could be shorter Classic-Compatible trains.
  • A Manchester and Scotland service would take the same route.

Another pair of tracks could leave the junction to the West to create a direct route between Manchester Airport and Liverpool for Northern Powerhouse Rail, by sneaking along the  M56.

Suppose extra services were as follows.

  • Manchester and Barrow – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Blackburn – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Blackpool – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Liverpool – 6 tph
  • Manchester and Scotland – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Windermere – 1 tph

The frequencies from the junction would be as follows.

  • To and from Crewe – High Speed Two (Manchester) – 5 tph – High Speed Two (North) – 3 tph = 8 tph
  • To and from Liverpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail – 6 tph = 6 tph
  • To and from Manchester – High Speed Two – 5 tph – Northern Powerhouse Rail – 6 tph – Local – 4 tph – Scotland – 1 tph = 16 tph
  • To and from Wigan – High Speed Two – 3 tph – Local – 4 tph – Scotland – 1 tph = 8 tph.

Only the Manchester Branch would be working hard.

The Liverpool Connection

I indicated that another pair of tracks would need to extend the Manchester Branch towards Liverpool in the West for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • Would these tracks have a station at Warrington?
  • Would there be a connection to allow services between Liverpool and the North and Scotland?

It might even be possible to design a Liverpool connection, that avoided using the current Liverpool Branch and increased the capacity and efficiency of all trains to Liverpool.

Capacity Of The Western Leg Between Wigan And Scotland

The sections between  Crewe and Carlisle, will be running at the following frequencies.

  • Wigan and Lancaster – 4 tph
  • Lancaster and Carlisle  – 3 tph
  • Carlisle and Edinburgh  – 2.5 tph
  • Carlisle and Glasgow – 2.5 tph


  1. The unusual Scottish frequencies are caused by splitting and joining at Carlisle and alternate services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  2. Any local high speed services and a Scotland service from Manchester, will increase the frequencies.

Over this section the services will be running on an improved West Coast Main Line.

But in some cases the trains will be replacing current services, so the increase in total frequencies will be less than it first appears.

Avanti West Coast currently run the following Scottish services.

  • One tph – London Euston and Glasgow via the most direct route.
  • One tph – London Euston and alternately Edinburgh and Glasgow via Birmingham.

This means that effectively Glasgow has 1.5 tph and Edinburgh 0.5 tph from London Euston.

The capacity of the current eleven-car Class 390 trains is 145 First and 444 Standard Class seats, which compares closely with the 500-600 seats given in Wikipedia for High Speed Two trains. So the capacity of the two trains is not that different.

But High Speed Two will be running 2.5 tph Between London Euston and both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

I would expect, that Class 390 services to Scotland will be discontinued and replaced by High Speed Two services.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between Birmingham And East Midlands Hub

The section is between Birmingham and East Midlands Hub, will be running 9 tph

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

Midlands Engine Rail is proposing a service between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham.

  • It will have a frequency of one tph.
  • It will be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.
  • The journey will take 33 minutes.
  • It will run on High Speed Two infrastructure between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.

If High Speed Two has been designed with this service in mind, I doubt it will be a difficult service to setup.

  • There might be enough capacity on High Speed Two  for two tph on the route,
  • It could possibly be extended to Lincoln.

It will also depend on the service timing being consistent with an efficient use of trains and platforms.

  • Thirty-three minutes is not a good timing, as it means twenty-seven minutes wait in a platform to get a round trip time, that suits clock-face time-tabling.
  • The current Lincoln and Nottingham service takes 56 minutes for 34 miles.
  • LNER’s London Kings Cross and Lincoln service travels the 16 miles between Lincoln and Newark in 25 minutes.
  • I estimate that after track improvements,  with a single stop at Newark Castle station, that Nottingham and Lincoln could be achieved in several minutes under fifty minutes.
  • This would enable a sub-ninety minute journey time between Birmingham Curzon Street and Lincoln, with enough time to properly turn the trains at both ends of the route.
  • The three hour round trip would mean that an hourly service would need three trains.

This is probably just one of several efficient time-tabling possibilities.

Are there any other similar services?

The obvious one is surely Cambridge and Birmingham

  • It would run via Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham and East Midlands Hub.
  • It would connect the three big science, engineering and medical centres in the Midlands and the East.
  • It could be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

It might even be a replacement for CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between East Midlands Hub And Sheffield

The section between East Midlands Hub and Sheffield, will be running 2 tph

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

This map of High Speed Two where the Sheffield Branch leaves the new High Speed Two route between East Midlands Hub and Leeds was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.


  1. The main route of High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub, is shown in orange and follows the route of the M1 Motorway, towards the East of the map.
  2. The Sheffield Branch is new track to Clay Cross North Junction, where is takes over the Midland Main Line to Sheffield, which is shown in blue.
  3. The line going South in the middle of the map is the Erewash Valley Line, which goes through Langley Mill and Ilkeston stations.

I suspect Clay Cross to Sheffield will be an electrified high speed line, with a maximum speed of at least 140 mph.

Could the Erewash Valley Line have been used as an alternative route to Sheffield?

This map of High Speed Two captured from their interactive map, shows the connection of High Speed Two and the Erewash Valley Line to East Midlands Hub.


  1. East Midlands Hub is shown by the big blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  3. The route to Leeds vaguely follows the M1 Motorway.
  4. The Erewash Valley Line goes North to the East of Ilkeston.

Would have been quicker and easier to electrify the Erewash Valley Line, as the High Speed Two route to Chesterfield and Sheffield?

  • Network Rail updated the route a few years ago.
  • It does not have the problems of electrification, through a World Heritage Site, as does the route through Derby.
  • It could surely handle two tph, even if they were High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  • Sheffield will be just under ninety minutes from London by High Speed Two, as opposed to two hours now.

I suspect that it all comes down to saving a few minutes to Sheffield and the civic pride of having a High Speed Two connection.

So it looks like we’ll have the following capacity between East Midlands Hub and Sheffield.

  • Between East Midlands Hub and Clay Cross North Junction, there will be the High Speed Two capacity of 18 tph.
  • Between Clay Cross and Sheffield, there will probably be an upgraded capacity of perhaps 8-10 tph.

It seems a lot of capacity for just two tph.


  • High Speed Two is planning to run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub
  • Midlands Rail Engine is planning to run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub
  • Four tph is considered a Turn-Up-And-Go service, and could exist between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.
  • Sheffield and Leeds, both probably need a Turn-Up-And-Go service, to and from East Midlands Hub.
  • Semi-fast services between Sheffield and East Midlands Hub, calling at Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston would be possible, by using the Erewash Valley Line.
  • The Maid Marian Line will join the Robin Hood Line in adding extra connectivity to East Midlands Hub Station.
  • Leeds and East Midlands Hub could have a six tph service courtesy of High Speed Two and Midlands Rail Engine.

Using High Speed Two’s web site, the following times should be possible.

  • Sheffield and East Midlands Hub – 27 minutes
  • Sheffield and Birmingham Curzon Street – 47 minutes.

Both services allow time for an efficient service.

There are certainly many options to create a Turn-Up-And-Go service between Sheffield and East Midlands Hub and also improve connections to other locations across the area.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between East Midlands Hub And Leeds

The section is between East Midlands Hub and Leeds, will be running 5 tph

High Speed Two between Midlands Hub and Leeds is a totally new high speed line.

  • As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.
  • The Southern section of the leg closely follows the M1 Motorway.
  • Leeds, York and Newcastle will be 27, 36 and 93 minutes from East Midlands Hub, respectively.

This map of High Speed Two, which shows the route of the line in Yorkshire, was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.


  1. Sheffield is marked by the blue dot in the South.
  2. Leeds is marked by the blue dot in the North West.
  3. York is marked by the blue dot in the North East.
  4. New routes are shown in orange.
  5. Upgraded routes are shown in blue.

The route seems to open up several possibilities for extra routes.

Leeds and Sheffield will be used by Northern Powerhouse Rail and there will be four tph, taking 28 minutes.

Leeds and Bedford via East Midlands Hub has been proposed by Midlands Rail Engine.

Services between Sheffield and the North via York must be a possibility.

This map of High Speed Two, which shows the routes to the East of Leeds, was captured from High Speed Two’s interactive map.

I think that two things might be missing.

  • A full triangular junction would surely allow services between Leeds and the North via York.
  • A high speed connection to Hull.

We shall see in the future.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between York And Newcastle

The section between  York and Newcastle, will be running at a frequency of 3 tph.

Over this section the services will be running on an improved East Coast Main Line.


I shall split the conclusions into various sections.

Route And Track Layout

I think there may be places, where the route and track layout might need to be improved.

  • The Manchester Branch probably needs a triangular junction with the Western Leg of High Speed Two.
  • How Liverpool is served by Northern Powerhouse Rail needs to be decided.
  • The approach to Leeds probably needs a triangular junction with the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.
  • It is not clear how services will reach Hull.

Hopefully, these issues will become clear in the next year or so.


The sections with the highest levels of capacity would appear to be the following.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Interchange.
  • The Manchester Branch
  • The section shared with the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle.
  • The section shared with the West Coast Main Line between Wigan and Scotland.

But on these sections extra trains can be run.

  • Birmingham and North West England
  • Birmingham and East Midlands Hub
  • East Midlands Hub and Leeds
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield
  • East Midlands Hub and York

I can see, this capacity being filled by high speed local services, like those proposed by Midlands Rail Engine.

Rolling Stock

The only comment, I will make, is that there could be a need for a shorter Classic-Compatible train to work local services.




October 22, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Another Product From Hyperdrive Innovation

My Google Alert for Hyperdrive Innovation has picked up this article on Yahoo, which is entitled RBW EV Roadster Is An Electric Take On The Classic MGB.

This is a paragraph from the article.

Managing Director Peter Swain said: “Our patented system places the electric motor at the rear of the car and Hyperdrive Innovation’s lithium-ion battery technology under the bonnet, which gives perfectly balanced weight distribution. Not only does this give the driver much better handling of the car, retaining that sports car feel, but it also affords maximum battery volume to be housed.

As Hyperdrive Innovation are a partner in Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, does the MGB go like an electric train?

If I still drove a car, I would buy one.

Having driven a few classic roadsters in my time, what is said about the handling of the car is probably true and I could envisage a small manufacturer building a roaster to that design from scratch.

I used to work with a former Engineering Director of Lotus Cars. After his stories about the great Colin Chapman, I’m sure that fertile brain would now be designing an electric roaster to fit the niche of the classic Lotus Seven and Lotus Elan.

  • Simple, but strong, steel or aluminium chassis.
  • Fibreglass body
  • Battery in the front.
  • If the battery was well-forward, it would improve crashworthiness in a head on crash.
  • Rear wheel drive.

We are uniquely positioned in the UK, with our motor racing heritage to design and build such a car in the UK.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

GWR Buys Vehicles Outright In HST Fleet Expansion

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Despite concerns over future passenger numbers, the Department for Transport has given permission for Great Western Railway to procure three more shortened HST diesel trainsets, branded as the Castle Class by the franchisee.

These pictures show some of the Castle Class trains.

They must be profitable and/or popular with passengers.

If I have a problem with these trains, it is with the Class 43 diesel power cars.

  • Each train has two power cars.
  • It would appear that there are about 150 of the Class 43 power cars in regular service.
  • Each is powered by a modern MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engine, that is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The engines are generally less than a dozen years old.
  • They will be emitting a lot of carbon dioxide.

As the trains are now only half as long as they used to be, I would suspect, that the engines won’t be working as hard, as they can.

Hopefully, this will mean less emissions.

The article says this about use of the fleet.

With its fleet now increasing to 14, GWR expects to use 12 each day on services across the west of England. Currently the fleet is deployed on the Cardiff – Bristol – Penzance corridor, but the company is still evaluating how the additional sets will be used.

It also says, that they are acquiring rolling stock from other sources. Some of which will be cannibalised for spares.

Are First Rail Holdings Cutting Carbon Emissions?

First Rail Holdings, who are GWR’s parent, have announced in recent months three innovative and lower-carbon fleets from Hitachi, for their subsidiary companies.

Hitachi have also announced a collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to provide battery packs to replace diesel engines, that could be used on Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

First Rail Holdings have these Class 800/802 fleets.

  • GWR – 36 x five-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 21 x nine-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 22 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • GWR – 14 x nine-car Class 802 trains
  • TransPennine Express – 19 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • Hull Trains – 5 x five-car Class 802 trains


  1. That is a total of 117 trains.
  2. As five-car trains have three diesel engines and nine-car trains have five diesel engines, that is a total of 357 engines.
  3. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Hull Trains’s Services?, I showed that Hull Trains could run their services with a Fast Charging system in Hull station.
  4. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?, I concluded that Class 802 trains equipped with batteries could handle all their routes without diesel and some strategically-placed charging stations.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, there is a section called Powertrain, where this is said.

According to Modern Railways magazine, the limited space available for the GUs has made them prone to overheating. It claims that, on one day in summer 2018, “half the diagrammed units were out of action as engines shut down through overheating.

So would replacing some diesel engines with battery packs, also reduce this problem, in addition to cutting carbon emissions?

It does appear to me, that First Rail Holdings could be cutting carbon emissions in their large fleet of Hitachi Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

The Class 43 power cars could become a marketing nightmare for the company?

Could Class 43 Power Cars Be Decarbonised?


  • Class 43 power cars are forty-five years old.
  • They have been rebuilt with new MTU engines in the last dozen years or so.
  • I suspect MTU and GWR know everything there is to know about the traction system of a Class 43 power car.
  • There is bags of space in the rear section of the power car.
  • MTU are part of Rolls-Royce, who because of the downturn in aviation aren’t performing very well!

But perhaps more importantly, the power cars are iconic, so anybody, who decarbonises these fabulous beasts, gets the right sort of high-class publicity.

I would also feel, if you could decarbonise these power cars, the hundreds of diesel locomotives around the world powered by similar diesel engines could be a useful market.

What methods could be used?


Running the trains on biodiesel would be a simple solution.

  • It could be used short-term or long-term.
  • MTU has probably run the engines on biodiesel to see how they perform.
  • Biodiesel could also be used in GWR’s smaller diesel multiple units, like Class 150, 158, 165 and 166 trains.

Some environmentalists think biodiesel is cheating as it isn’t zero-carbon.

But it’s my view, that for a lot of applications it is a good interim solution, especially, as companies like Altalto, will be making biodiesel and aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, which would otherwise be incinerated or go to landfill.

The Addition Of Batteries

This page on the Hitachi Rail Ltd web site shows this image of the V-Train 2.

This is the introduction to the research program, which was based on a High Speed Train, fotmed of two Class 43 power cars and four Mark 3 carriages.

The V-Train 2 was a demonstration train designed in order to demonstrate our skills and expertise while bidding for the Intercity Express Programme project.

The page  is claiming, that a 20 % fuel saving could be possible.

This paragraph talks about performance.

The V-Train 2 looked to power the train away from the platform using batteries – which would in turn be topped up by regenerative braking when a train slowed down to stop at a station. Acceleration would be quicker and diesel saved for the cruising part of the journey.

A similar arrangement to that Hitachi produced in 2005 could be ideal.

  • Technology has moved on significantly in the intervening years.
  • The performance would be adequate for a train that just trundles around the West Country at 90 mph.
  • The space in the rear of the power car could hold a lot of batteries.
  • The power car would be quiet and emission-free in stations.
  • There would be nothing to stop the diesel engine running on biodiesel.

This might be the sort of project, that Hitachi’s partner in the Regional Battery Train; Hyperdrive Innovation. would probably be capable of undertaking.

MTU Hybrid PowerPack

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that MTU have a drop-in solution for the current 6V4000 R41R diesel engine, that includes a significant amount of batteries.

This must be a serious possibility.

Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW Generator

In Our Sustainability Journey, I talk about rail applications of Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator, that has been developed to provide power for electric flight.

In the post, I discuss fitting the generator into a Class 43 power car and running it on aviation biofuel.

I conclude the section with this.

It should also be noted, that more-efficient and less-polluting MTU engines were fitted in Class 43s from 2005, so as MTU is now part of Rolls-Royce, I suspect that Rolls-Royce have access to all the drawings and engineers notes, if not the engineers themselves

But it would be more about publicity for future sales around the world, with headlines like.

Iconic UK Diesel Passenger Trains To Receive Green Roll-Royce Jet Power!

COVID-19 has given Rolls-Royce’s aviation business a real hammering, so perhaps they can open up a new revenue stream by replacing the engines of diesel locomotives,

I find this an intriguing possibility. Especially, if it were to be fitted with a battery pack.

Answering My Original Question

In answering my original question, I feel that there could be several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a Class 43 power car.

It should also be noted that other operators are users of Class 43 power cars.

  • ScotRail – 56
  • CrossCountry – 12
  • East Midlands Railway – 39
  • Network Rail – 3


  1. ScotRail’s use of the power cars, is very similar to that of GWR.
  2. CrossCountry’s routes would need a lot of reorganisation to be run by say Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.
  3. East Midlands Railway are replacing their Inter-City 125s with new Class 810 trains.

The picture shows the power car of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train.

These may well be the most difficult to decarbonise, as I suspect they need to run at 125 mph on some routes, which do not have electrification and there are no 125 mph self-powered locomotives. After the Stonehaven crash, there may be more tests to do and a second train may be needed by Network Rail.

Why Are GWR Increasing Their Castle Class Fleet?

These are possible reasons.

GWR Want To Increase Services

This is the obvious explanation, as more services will need more trains.

GWR Want To Update The Fleet

There may be something that they need to do to all the fleet, so having a few extra trains would enable them to update the trains without cutting services.

GWR Want To Partially Or Fully Decarbonise The Power Cars

As with updating the fleet,  extra power cars would help, as they could be modified first and then given a thorough testing before entering passenger service.

GWR Have Been Made An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Suppose Rolls-Royce, MTU or another locomotive power plant manufacturer has a novel idea, they want to test.

Over the years, train operating companies have often tested modified trains and locomotives for manufacturers.

So has a manufacturer, asked GWR to test something in main line service?

Are Other Train Operators Thinking Of Using Introducing More Short-Formed InterCity 125 Trains?

This question has to be asked, as I feel there could be routes, that would be suitable for a net-zero carbon version of a train, like a GWR Castle or a ScotRail Inter7City.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains is now run by the Department for Transport and has surely the most suitable route in the UK for a shorted-formed InterCity 125 train – Leeds and Carlisle via the Settle and Carlisle Line.

Northern Trains may have other routes.

Transport for Wales Rail Services

Transport for Wales Rail Services already run services between Cardiff Central and Holyhead using diesel locomotive hauled services and long distance services between South Wales and Manchester using diesel multiple units.

Would an iconic lower-carbon train be a better way of providing some services and attract more visitors to the Principality?


GWR must have a plan, but there are few clues to what it is.

The fact that the trains have been purchased rather than leased could be significant and suggests to me that because there is no leasing company involved to consult, GWR are going to do major experimental modifications to the trains.

They may be being paid, by someone like an established or new locomotive engine manufacturer.

It could also be part of a large government innovation and decarbonisation project.

My hunch says that as First Rail Holdings appear to be going for a lower-carbon fleet, that it is about decarbonising the Class 43 power cars.

The plan would be something like this.

  • Update the three new trains to the new specification.
  • Give them a good testing, before certifying them for service.
  • Check them out in passenger service.
  • Update all the trains.

The three extra trains would give flexibility and mean that there would always be enough trains for a full service.

Which Methods Could Be Used To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of The Class 43 Power Cars?

These must be the front runners.

  • A Hitachi/Hyperdrive Innovation specialist battery pack.
  • An MTU Hybrid PowerPack.
  • A Rolls-Royce MTU solution based on the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator with batteries.

All would appear to be viable solutions.





September 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Charfield Station

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Wikipedia says this about the Proposed Reopening of Charfield station.

Services between Bristol and Birmingham pass through Charfield. There have been discussions about the viability of reopening the station. The costs would be shared between Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire councils since, although the station would be in South Gloucestershire, the nearby town of Wotton-under-Edge would be a principal beneficiary.

This Google Map shows the village with the Bristol and Birmingham Line passing through.

Note, that the road running down the East side of the railway is called Station Road.

There appear to be these services running through the location.

  • CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh/Glasgow via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Birmingham New Street
  • CrossCountry – Exeter St. Davids and Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Birmingham New Street
  • GWR – Great Malvern and Westbury via Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa


All services appear to be hourly.

Bristol Parkway station is thirteen miles away by rail, so is an easy drive, but a very stiff walk or cycle.

Timings by rail from Charfield based on passing GWR trains include.

  • Bristol Parkway – 15 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 27 minutes
  • Cheltenham Spa – 38 minutes
  • Gloucester – 24 minutes

There may be a possibility of improving these times, as the current timetable might have been written for slow trains and a Class 158, Class 165 or Class 166 train can do better.

CrossCountry times include.

  • Birmingham New Street – 68 minutes
  • Bristol Parkway – 11 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 23 minutes
  • Cheltenham Spa – 17 minutes
  • Worcestershire Parkway – 32 minutes

I would think, that Charfield station could receive one GWR  stopping train and one fast CrossCountry train per hour.

Discontinuous Electrification Between Birmingham And Bristol

Hitachi have changed the rules on electrification, by the announcement of the development of battery electric trains in collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

The proposed train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

It will have a range on battery power of 90 km or 56 miles.


  • Midlands Connect have ambitions see an extra hourly service between Birmingham and Bristol Temple Meads, with all services running five minutes faster. See Midlands Rail Hub.
  • CrossCountry will likely be getting new trains, to replace their exclusively all-diesel fleet. They could be tri-mode trains to make the most of long stretches of electrification on their routes, batteries for short gaps of up to fifty miles and diesel power everywhere else.
  • There are electrified stations at Bristol Parkway and possibly Bristol Temple Meads in a few years.
  • There is full electrification between Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove stations.
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway are seventy miles apart.
  • There is a possibility, that Cheltenham Spa station will get a charging facility so that London Paddington and Cheltenham Spa services could be run by Class 800 trains converted to battery electric operation.

I don’t think it is an unreasonable prediction to make that Hitachi and other train manufacturers like Stadler with their Class 755 trains, have the technology to run low-carbon services between Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street stations.

  • Trains would leave Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway with full batteries.
  • Quick battery top-ups can be taken at Cheltenham Spa and Worcestershire Parkway stations.
  • The fast acceleration of the electric trains will allow extra stops.

I think it would also be possible for GWR to use battery electric Class 387 trains between Great Malvern and Westbury.

Charfield could be an electric train-only station.


The reopening of Charfield station is really a simple station rebuilding and reopening and local passenger forecasts will probably make the decision.

But these forecasts must take into account, the likely partial decarbonisation of the route through the station, which would surely increase ridership.

The new station could also be built with provision for a possible charging facility, in case it might be needed in the future.


July 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains

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

This is the introductory sub-title.

Hyperdrive Innovation and Hitachi Rail are to develop battery packs to power trains and create a battery hub in the North East of England.

The article gives this information.

  • Trains can have a range of ninety kilometres, which fits well with Hitachi’s quoted battery range of 55-65 miles.
  • Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients.

Hitachi have also provided an  informative video.

At one point, the video shows a visualisation of swapping a diesel-engine for a battery pack.

As a world-class computer programmer in a previous life, I believe that it is possible to create a battery pack, that to the train’s extremely comprehensive computer, looks like a diesel-engine.

So by modifying the train’s software accordingly, the various power sources of electrification, diesel power-packs and battery packs can be used in an optimum manner.

This would enable one of East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains, to be fitted with a mix of diesel and battery packs in their four positions under the train.

Imagine going between London and Sheffield, after the High Speed Two electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield has been erected.

  • Between St. Pancras and Market Harborough power would come from the electrification.
  • The train would leave the electrified section with full batteries
  • At all stations on the route, hotel power would come from the batteries.
  • Diesel power and some battery power would be used between stations. Using them together may give better performance.
  • At Clay Cross North Junction, the electrification would be used to Sheffield.

For efficient operation, there would need to be electrification or some form of charging at the Sheffield end of the route. This is why, I am keen that when High Speed Two is built in the North, that the shsared section with the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, should be built early.

Hitachi have said that these trains will have four diesel engines. I think it will more likely be two diesel engines and two batteries.

The World’s First Battery-Electric Main Line

I suspect with electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, that a train fitted with four batteries, might even be able to run on electric power only on the whole route.

In addition, if electrification were to be erected between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations, all three Northern destinations would become electric power only.

The Midland Main Line would be the first battery electric high speed line in the world!

Hitachi On Hydrogen Trains

The press release about the partnership between Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation is on this page on the Hitachi web site.

This is a paragraph.

Regional battery trains produce zero tailpipe emission and compatible with existing rail infrastructure so they can complement future electrification. At the moment, battery trains have approximately 50% lower lifecycle costs than hydrogen trains, making battery the cheapest and cleanest alternative zero-emission traction solution for trains.

I have ridden in two battery-electric trains and one hydrogen-powered train.

I would rate them out of ten as follows.

It’s not that the iLint is a bad train, as the power system seems to work well, but the passenger experience is nowhere near the quality of the two battery trains.

In my view, battery vehicles are exceedingly quiet, so is this the reason?

On the other hand, it could just be poor engineering on the iLint.


This is as very big day in the development of zero- and low-carbon trains in the UK.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments