The Anonymous Widower

Govia Thameslink Railway Issues a Prior Information Notice For New Trains

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled UK Railway News Round-Up and contains this section.

Govia Thameslink Railway has issued a prior information notice seeking the provision of between 21 and 30 four-car 25 kV 50 Hz 160 km/h through-gangwayed EMUs with air-conditioning and toilets for use on existing and/or additional Great Northern services from May 2024. Maintenance would be undertaken in-house at Hornsey depot, supported by a Technical Support & Spares Supply Agreement.

I find this all a bit puzzling.

  • The trains that need replacing are surely the eighteen Class 313 trains, that run on the West Coastway Line, as they are some of the oldest trains on the UK network.
  • If Govia Thameslink Railway were serious about decarbonisation, they would also replace the Class 171 diesel trains, that work the Marshlink Line and the Uckfield branch, with electric trains with a range of thirty miles on batteries.

How many trains would be needed to replace the Class 313 and Class 171 trains?

  • The eighteen three-car Class 313 trains could be replaced with an equal number of new four-car trains and this might result in a rise in passenger numbers.
  • I would assume the eighteen trains includes allowances for trains in maintenance and spare trains for when a train fails.
  • It may be possible to  replace the six four-car Class 171 trains used on the Marshfield Line with three new four-car trains, which have a range of thirty miles on batteries.
  • The eleven two-car Class 171 trains used on the Uckfield branch could be replaced with three new four-car trains, which have a range of thirty miles on batteries and would run as four-car trains.
  • If eight-car trains were needed on the Uckfield branch, there would be a need for six new four-car trains.
  • If twelve-car trains were needed on the Uckfield branch, there would be a need for nine new four-car trains.


  1. If four-car trains are needed on the Uckfield branch, this means a total of 18+3+3 or 24 trains.
  2. If eight-car trains are needed on the Uckfield branch, this means a total of 18+3+6 or 27 trains.
  3. If twelve-car trains are needed on the Uckfield branch, this means a total of 18+3+9 or 30 trains.

Trains on these Southern routes wouldn’t be stabled at Hornsey depot, but could be moved to Hornsey for maintenance  using Thameslink.

But the puzzling bit is that the prior information notice says that the trains will be.

Four-car 25 kV 50 Hz 160 km/h through-gangwayed EMUs with air-conditioning and toilets for use on existing and/or additional Great Northern services from May 2024.


  1. There is no mention of the trains being able to run on 750 VDC third-rail infrastructure.
  2. The trains will run on Great Northern services and the Class 313 and Class 171 trains run on Southern routes.
  3. The only Great Northern services, that have not been moved to Thameslink are Kings Cross and Cambridge, Ely and King’s Lynn and services to Moorgate.
  4. The Moorgate services have their own dual-voltage Class 717 trains.
  5. Govia Thameslink Railway have ambitions to double the frequency of trains to King’s Lynn.
  6. Two eight-car trains per hour (tph) between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn would need sixteen operational four-car trains.
  7. Two twelve-car trains per hour (tph) between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn would need twenty-four operational four-car trains.

If Govia Thameslink Railway are thinking of thirty new trains, they must have other destinations in mind.

Could we be seeing a double swap?

  • An appropriate number of new trains are procured to run Great Northern services between Kings Cross and Cambridge, Ely and King’s Lynn.
  • The Class 387 trains released will be moved to the South to replace the Class 313 and Class 171 trains.
  • Some or all of the transferred Class 387 trains will be fitted with batteries to give a range of thirty miles without electrification.


  1. Could the new trains be Siemens Desiro City trains like the Class 700 and Class 717 trains, which are already maintained at Hornsey depot? It would surely be more efficient and save money.
  2. Class 387 trains are dual voltage and would need little or no modification to replace the Class 313 trains.
  3. Uckfield and Hurst Green junction is 24.7 miles.
  4. Ashford International and Ore is 25.4 miles
  5. Adding a battery to a Class 387 train has not been done, but Bombardier converted a near-identical Class 379 train to battery-electric operation over eight years ago.
  6. Converting a Class 387 train gives a dual-voltage battery-electric train.
  7. I suspect a charger would be needed at Uckfield. Could it be a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification?

Could all the Class 387 trains, that will replace the Class 313 and Class 171 trains be identical to ease the problems, when a train develops a fault?


It looks a good plan.

It also opens up the following possibilities.

  • Deployment of 750 VDC battery-electric trains on other routes.
  • Deployment of 25 KVAC overhead battery-electric trains on other routes.
  • Deployment of tri-mode battery-electric trains on other routes.
  • Charging of battery-electric trains using a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Fitting of batteries to Class 379 trains to create a 25 KVAC overhead battery-electric train.

It might be possible to convert other Electrostars to battery-electric operation.

Ignoring Class 387 trains on dedicated services like Heathrow and Gatwick Express, these trains are available for conversion.

  • Class 379 trains – Stored – 30 trains
  • Class 387 trains – Govia Thameslink Railway – 40 trains
  • Class 387 trains – Great Western Railway – 33 trains


  1. This gives 103 trains.
  2. They all have good interiors.
  3. They are all 100/110 mph trains.
  4. All trains could be updated to 110 mph.
  5. All trains can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  6. The Class 387 trains can also use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  7. The Class 379 trains were built in 2010-2011.
  8. The Class 387 trains were built from 2014.

I believe both classes will make excellent battery-electric trains.

Where will they be deployed?

These are a selection of routes starting in the South-East of England.

  • Ashford International and Eastbourne.
  • Gravesend and Hoo.
  • London Bridge and Uckfield.
  • London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Reading and Basingstoke.
  • Reading and Gatwick.
  • Reading and Redhill.
  • Slough and Windsor & Eton Central.
  • Twyford and Henley-on-Thames

I’ve only added routes which are less than thirty miles.




April 27, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Would A Lumo-Style Service Work Between King’s Cross And Norfolk?

This is a bit of a fantasy and you’ll never know the real reason why I have written it!

With the upgrade of the East Coast Main Line to full digital signalling, there will be a problem South of Hitchin with 140 mph Azumas and Hitachi Class 802 trains and similar from Grand Central , Hull Trains and Lumo hogging the fast lines to and from King’s Cross. I first wrote about it in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

One solution would be to replace the current Class 387 trains with a 140 mph train , such as a Hitachi Class 802 variant. This would enable these fast King’s Lynn and Cambridge trains to join the 140 mph trains on a fast run to and from King’s Cross.

The Future Of Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the UK’s four world cities, with its heritage and lately its high position in any technology league table.

The Current Rail Service Between London And Cambridge

Currently, it has a good service into King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and St. Pancras.

  • Great Northern – two tph to King’s Cross – A stopping train using Class 700 or Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between Ely and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink  – two tph to Brighton – A semi-fast train using Class 700 trains.
  • Greater Anglia – two tph to Liverpool Street – A semi-fast train using Class 720 or Class 379 trains.


  1. tph means trains per hour.
  2. The similar Class 387 and Class 379 trains are both late-model Bombardier Electrostars with sensible seats and a large number of tables. Both train types can or could be modified to run at 110 mph.
  3. The Class 700 trains are unsuitable for the route, as they have ironing-board seats and no tables. These are only 100 mph trains.
  4. The Queen’s bottom doesn’t like the Class 700 trains.

A large proportion of the passengers and commuters between to and from Cambridge work in high-tech or information-rich businesses and I believe if the trains were more geared to this market they would attract passengers away from the roads.

The Cambridge Employment Problem

Fast-growing Cambridge is taking over the region and it is always looking for towns and villages to develop as places for dormitories and to build premises for the hundreds of high-tech businesses.

This is one of the reasons why Greater Anglia acquired new Stadler Class 755 trains to run services from Cambridge to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough and Stansted Airport.

If you’re going to lure Cambridge’s well-paid high-tech commuters out of their cars, you must give them an equivalent seat to their car. The Class 379, 387 and 755 trains do this.

Living In Norfolk And Suffolk And Working In Cambridge

This has always been the choice of many who work in Cambridge, but using rail into Cambridge didn’t really take-off seriously until modern three-car Class 170 trains replaced the single-car Class 153 trains.

Greater Anglia have followed the upward trend in passenger numbers, by running hourly  four-car Class 755 trains from Cambridge to both Ipswich and Norwich.

Before the pandemic, it was starting to look like Norwich and Cambridge would soon need a second service, especially with the planned opening of the new Cambridge South station in 2025.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital And The Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Cambridge South station is being built to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which intend to be create the foremost medical research cluster in the world.

Staycations And Holiday Homes In East Anglia

Life is changing because of the covids and more people are taking staycations or buying holiday homes.

And many are following the example of the Queen and going to Norfolk for their relaxation.

The Undoubted Need To Improve Rail Services Between London King’s Cross And Norfolk Via Cambridge

These factors convince me that there is a need for a new or repurposed rail service  between London King’s Cross and Norfolk via Cambridge.

  • The need to provide a high-class commuter service between London and Cambridge.
  • The need to bring workers into Cambridge from Norfolk.
  • The need to provide a fast high-class rail link to Cambridge South station with all its medical research.
  • The need to provide a comprehensive working environment on the trains.
  • The need to cater for all those people relaxing in Norfolk after a hard week in London.

It is my view, that a radical design of train is needed for this route.

  • It would need to have a high-class interior.
  • It would need at least a 125 mph capability, so that it can use the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross.
  • The train may need the ability to split and join.
  • It would need an independent power capability for running on the Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich.
  • Because of Cambridge and because East Anglia is easy country for cycling, it would need a sensible capacity for cycles.

I also believe that because of the need to decarbonise, the train should be zero-carbon.

These are my thoughts.

Operating Speed

Because of running on the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross with the 140 mph trains from the North, I suspect that an operating speed of at least 125 mph is needed. But if the Hitachi trains of LNER, Hull Trains, Lumo and in the future possibly other operators like Grand Central, will be capable of 140 mph, this speed could be desirable.

Speed limits once the trains have left the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin North junction are as follows.

  • Hitchin and Cambridge – 90 mph
  • Cambridge and King’s Lynn – 90 mph
  • Ely and Norwich – 75-90 mph

I can see Network Rail using their expertise to raise the speed limit on sections of these lines.

Flighting Of Trains On The East Coast Main Line

To increase capacity on the East Coast Main Line, I believe that at some point in the not too distant future that trains will be flighted. This will involve two or more trains leaving King’s Cross in a sequence and proceeding with all trains at a safe distance from each other.

I can envisage a flight like this from King’s Cross.

  • An Edinburgh train with York as the first stop – Leaves at XX.00
  • A Leeds train with Doncaster as the first stop – Leaves at XX.03
  • A Lincoln train with Peterborough as the first stop – Leaves at XX.06
  • A Cambridge train with Stevenage as the first stop – Leaves at XX.09


  1. The Edinburgh train would set the speed.
  2. Trains would maintain their time behind the lead train.
  3. Everything could be controlled by the digital signalling.
  4. Gaps between the trains would be sufficient for a safe stop.
  5. No train in the flight would make a station stop unless it was the last train in the flight.
  6. The last train in the flight would drop off and go to their destination.

As there are at least two tph to Edinburgh, Leeds and Cambridge, there would be two main flights per hour leaving King’s Cross, with the second flight perhaps incorporating a service to Hull.

Digital signalling and precise driving would enable the flights to be built in the opposite direction into King’s Cross.

The big advantage would be that instead of needing eight paths per hour on the East Coast Main Line, only two would be needed.

All trains would need to have similar performance, so this is another reason why the Cambridge trains need to be at least 125 mph trains.

Train Interiors

Lumo has broken new ground in train interiors.

  • It is one class.
  • Everybody gets a decent seat.
  • Everybody gets good legroom.
  • Everybody gets some form of table.
  • There are decent-sized overhead racks for hand-baggage and coats.
  • There is space for bicycles and heavy luggage appropriate to the route.

This can be built on to provide a good working and playing environment suited to the passengers who would use a fast King’s Cross and Norfolk service via Cambridge.

  • Lots of tables for four, as in the high-class Electrostars.
  • Better bicycle storage.
  • Better alignment of seats with windows.

Hitachi could obviously produce a train to this specification.

But what about other manufacturers.

Stadler’s Class 755 trains are surely a possibility.

  • A senior driver from Greater Anglia told me that the design speed for a Class 755 train is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • They have good seats.
  • They have flat floors.
  • They have large windows.
  • They have step-free access between train and platform.
  • Like the Hitachi trains, they are in service.

I believe the closely-related Class 745 trains are probably the best commuter trains in the UK and are the only alternative to the Hitachi trains on a125 mph fully-electrified route.

Bridging The Electrification Gap Between Ely And Norwich

Between Norwich and Ely stations is 53.8 miles and this section is not electrified, although both stations have full electrification.

The line is not heavily used with typically only two passenger trains and the occasional freight trains in each direction in an hour.

This Hitachi infographic describes the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

A 90 km. range could be sufficient to cover the gap between Norwich and Ely.

Could Hitachi build a Class 802 train or similar with a battery range of 90 km or 56 miles?

Certainly, a speed of 100 mph would probably be sufficient to bridge the gap in a decent time.

Improving The Breckland Line

The Breckland Line is the route between Cambridge and Norwich.

  • Cambridge and Norwich is 68.5 miles
  • Only the sixteen miles between Cambridge and Ely North junction is electrified.
  • There are thirteen stops between the two cities.
  • A typical time is 79 minutes
  • This is an average speed of just 52 mph.
  • The operating speed is 75-90 mph.

I am sure that Network Rail can squeeze a few minutes here and there to get the operating speed up to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

But the big problem at Norwich is the Trowse swing bridge.

It is only single track and it is likely that this bridge will be replaced soon.

This Google Map shows Trowse junction, a short distance South of the swing bridge.


  1. The electrified double-track of the Great Eastern Main Line goes across the map from North East to South West.
  2. The double-track railway to the East of the main line is the unelectrified Breckland Line to Cambridge, which turns West and goes under the main line.
  3. On the West of the main lines are the Victoria sidings that I wrote about in Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project.

As the replacement of the swing bridge will require some work to be done to the electrification, I wonder if at the same time Network Rail would electrify the Norwich end of the Breckland Line.

There must be a balance point adding electrification or batteries to the trains.

As the Breckland Line has few freight trains, electrification is not needed for freight.


A high-speed high-capacity service as I’m proposing must be easy to use.

It is a classic route, where nothing short of London-style contactless ticketing will do, as I’m certain this encourages people to use the trains.

As East Anglia is self-contained and has few services that don’t terminate in the area or in London, I am certain that this could be achieved.

If you remove First Class as Greater Anglia has done on many services, you actually simplify the ticketing, so a Lumo-style mid-class is ideal.

High Speed Train Services

Currently Great Northern run two tph from King’s Cross to Ely via Cambridge.

  • One service is extended to King’s Lynn.
  • I could see the second service extended to Norwich.

Both services would need to be run by 125 mph trains because of the speed of other trains on the East Coast Main Line.


I think duch a system would be possible.

November 21, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A New Timetable For The East Coast

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

The Modern Railways article describes in detail the thinking behind the proposed timetable for the East Coast Main Line, that will be introduced in May 2022.

The new titletable would appear to be a compromise and judging by the number of complaints that have appeared in the media, the compromise doesn’t suit everyone.

A lot of my programming was concerned with the allocation of resources in large projects and that expertise convinces me, that the East Coast Main Line doesn’t have enough capacity to accommodate all the services that passengers need and train companies want to run.

These are my thoughts.

High Speed Two

When High Speed Two is completed to Leeds, it will add the following services to Leeds.

  • Three trains per hour (tph) between London Euston and Leeds in a time of one hour and twenty-one minutes.
  • Two tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds in a time of forty-nine minutes.
  • One tph between Bedford and Leeds, run by Midlands Connect, in a time of one hour and thirty-six minutes.

Leeds will benefit from these services from the South on the new High Speed Two.

But the High Speed Two network has been designed to need to run three tph between York and Newcastle, which will have to share with other East Coast Main Line services.

Both High Speed Two and the aspiration of providing more services on the East Coast Main Line mean that more capacity must be provided between York and Newcastle.

High Speed Two is not mentioned in the Modern Railways article.

I know the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is many years away, but surely, it should have an influence on the design of East Coast Main Line services.

For instance, destinations like Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Peterborough, Redcar, Scarborough, Skegness and Sunderland are unlikely to be served by High Speed Two services, so how does that determine our thinking, when planning train services to  these destinations.

Perhaps, there should be lists of secondary destinations, that should be served by the various operators.

London And Leeds In Two Hours

This is mentioned in the Modern Railways article as being an aspiration of Virgin Trains East Coast, when they ran the franchise.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I did a few rough calculations and said this.


    • The fastest current trains between London Kings Cross and Leeds take between two hours and twelve minutes and two hours and fifteen minutes.
    • I suspect that the extra tracks into Kings Cross, that are currently being built will save a few minutes.
    • There must be some savings to be made between Doncaster and Leeds
    • There must be some savings to be made between London Kings Cross and Woolmer Green.
    • There could be a rearrangement of stops.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

It is my view, that any new East Coast Main Line timetable should include services between London Kings Cross and Leeds in a few minutes under two hours.

London And Edinburgh In Four Hours

This must be another objective of the train companies, as it is competitive with the airlines.

But it is not a simple process as cutting stops to save time, often annoys the locals.

So achieving the objective of a four-hour trip between London and Edinburgh probably needs some major upgrades to the East Coast Main Line.

Some of the improvements needed are detailed in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line.

Projects in the related article include.

  • Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade
  • York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Darlington Station Remodelling
  • The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction
  • Use Of The Leamside Line
  • Full Digital ERTMS signalling.

It would appear there’s a lot of work to do, but all of it, will be needed for High Speed Two.

The Modern Railways article does point out, that the new Hitachi trains have superior acceleration to the InterCity 225 trains, that they have replaced. So that will help!

Although it is a worthwhile objective, I think it will be some years before London and Edinburgh times of under four hours are obtained on the East Coast Main Line.

Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

These trains are described in this Hitachi infographic.

Within a couple of years these trains will start to be seen on the East Coast Main Line serving destinations like Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield,  Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

Although, it says batteries will replace one engine in the infographic, I believe the standard five-car train for the East Coast Main Line will have two battery packs and an emergency diesel engine. Before the end of the decade, they will be fully-decarbonised with three battery packs.

Splitting And Joining

Although the Hitachi trains can accomplish splitting and joining with ease, it is only mentioned once in the Modern Railways article and that is concerned with a service to Huddersfield, which will split and join at Leeds.

I can see this being used to make sure that each train running into Kings Cross is either a nine-car or a pair of five-car trains, as this would maximise capacity on the route.

Currently, trains to York and Lincoln share a path into Kings Cross, with trains alternating to each destination, so each destination gets one train per two hours (1tp2h).

It would surely be possible for a pair of trains to leave Kings Cross, that split at Newark, with one train going to York and the other to Lincoln.

  • The Modern Railways article says that the Middlesbrough service will be an extension of the 1tp2h York service.
  • This means Kings Cross and Middlesbrough would call at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford, Doncaster and York.
  • So at some time in the future could the Middlesbrough and Lincoln services share a path, with a split and join at Newark?

If the Lincoln and Middlesbrough services were to be run at a frequency of 1tp2h, the intervening paths could be used for other destinations.

Theoretically, by using pairs of five-car trains and splitting and joining, four destinations can be given a service of 1tp2h to and from London, that all use the same path.

I think the following splits and joins would be feasible.

  • Lincoln/Middlesbrough splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Lincoln/Scarborough splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Nottingham/Sheffield splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Harrogate/Huddersfield splitting and joining at Leeds.
  • Bradford/Skipton splitting and joining at Leeds.
  • Hull/Leeds splitting and joining at Doncaster.


  1. The two Lincoln splits and joins at Newark North Gate could possibly be arranged, so that Middlesbrough got roughly 1tp2h and Scarborough got perhaps two trains per day (tpd).
  2. Hull would be a very useful destination, as it is a large station to the East of the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Nottingham and Sheffield could be useful destinations during any disruption on the Midland Main Line, perhaps due to installation of full electrification.

The permutations and combinations are endless.

All Fast Trains Must Have Similar Performance

East Coast Trains, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express all use trains with similar performance.

But other operators like Great Northern use slower trains on the East Coast Main Line.

As the Hitachi trains will be running at up to 140 mph under the control of full digital signalling, it strikes me that for safe, fast and efficient operation, the other operators will need faster trains, where they run on the fast lines of the East Coast Main Line.

Grand Central

Grand Central‘s fleet of Class 180 trains will need to be replaced to decarbonise the operator and will surely be replaced with more 140 mph trains to take advantage of the digitally-signalled East Coast Main Line.

As their routes are not fully-electrified, I suspect they’ll be using similar Hitachi battery-electric trains.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in the world, let alone England and the UK.

It is generating new businesses at a tremendous rate and it needs an expanded rail network to give access to housing and industrial premises in the surrounding cities and towns.

  • Peterborough is in the same county and is developing alongside Cambridge.
  • Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and other towns are being drawn into Cambridge.
  • East West Rail to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford is coming.

Cambridge is well-connected to London, but needs better connections to the North and Midlands.

King’s Cross And King’s Lynn

Currently, this route is run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

These trains are just not fast enough for Network Rail’s 140 mph digitally signalled railway between King’s Cross and Hitchin.

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I examine how 125 mph trains and full digital signalling could be used to run between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge.

This would allow the trains to use the fast lines into King’s Cross.

I also feel, that to maximise the use of paths into King’s Cross, that the King’s Lynn service could be paired with a new Norwich service. The two trains would split and join at Cambridge.

Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

This service is currently run by Class 156 trains and needs decarbonising. It also runs on 125 mph lines between.

  • Peterborough and Grantham
  • Nottingham and Sheffield

It certainly needs a thorough redesign and modern rolling stock to replace the current rolling road blocks.

East West Rail will certainly increase Cambridge and Norwich services to two tph, so why not terminate this Liverpool service at Cambridge rather than Norwich?

  • Cambridge station has a lot of space to add extra platforms.
  • The service would not need to reverse at Ely.
  • It would add much-needed capacity to the Cambridge and Peterborough route.
  • The service could even terminate at the new Cambridge South station.
  • There have been plans for some time to split this service at Nottingham.

As between Peterborough and Grantham is a fully-electrified four-track line, I suspect that a Cambridge and Nottingham service could be handled by a 110 mph battery-electric train based on a Class 350 or Class 379 train.

Similar battery-electric trains could probably handle the Northern section between Nottingham and Liverpool Lime Street.

Stansted Airport And Birmingham Via Cambridge

After the work to the North of Peterborough at Werrington, this service has a clear route away from the East Coast Main Line, so it can be ignored.

The service does need decarbonisation and I suspect that it could be run by a 110 mph battery-electric train based on a Class 350 or Class 379 train.

CrossCountry And TransPennine Express Services

CrossCountry and TransPennine Express also run services on the Northern section of the East Coast Main Line.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Leeds and Edinburgh via York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar (1tp2h)
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Sheffield and Newcastle via Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough via Leeds, Garforth and York
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Redcar via Leeds, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby, and Middlesbrough.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Chester-le-Street (1t2h)

In addition LNER and East Coast Trains also run these services on the same section.

  • LNER – 1 tp2h – London Kings Cross and York
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Northallerton (1tp2h), Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Alnmouth (1tp2h)
  • East Coast Trains – 5 tpd – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Newcastle and Morpeth.

Aggregating the stops gives the following.

  • York – 8.5 tph
  • Darlington – 6 tph
  • Durham – 5 tph
  • Chester-le-Street – 0.5 tph
  • Newcastle – 6 tph and 5 tpd
  • Morpeth – 1 tph and 5 tpd
  • Almouth – 1.5 tph
  • Berwick-on-Tweed – 2 tph
  • Dunbar – 0.5 tph


  1. 1 tp2h = 0.5 tph
  2. Scotland is building two new stations at Reston and East Linton.
  3. Northern run trains between Newcastle and Morpeth.

It does appear from comments in the Modern Railways article, that the various train companies and passenger groups can’t agree on who calls where to the North of York.

Perhaps the Fat Controller should step in.

Between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed

With the reopening of the Northumberland Line between Newcastle and Ashington, there may be an opportunity to reorganise services between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed.

  • Morpeth could be served via the Northumberland Line.
  • Britishvolt are building a large gigafactory for batteries at Blyth.
  • It would probably be a good idea to remove slow diesel services from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Reston station will need a train service.
  • Morpeth and Newcastle are under twenty miles apart on the East Coast Main Line and the route via Ashington is perhaps only ten miles longer.

It looks to me that local services on the Northumberland Line and between Newcastle and Reston on the East Coast Main Line could be run by a 110 mph battery-electric train.


There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a very much improved timetable for the East Coast Main Line.

I do think though that the following actions must be taken.

  • Ensure, that all the long-distance train companies have trains capable of running at 140 mph under the control of digital signalling.
  • Develop a 110 mph battery-electric train to work the local routes, that run on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Get agreement between passengers and train companies about stopping patterns to the North of York.
  • Use splitting and joining creatively to squeeze more trains into the available paths.

LNER would also need to increase their fleet.



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

Cambridge Station To Get Another Platform Lengthening

Of all the stations I use regularly, Cambridge seems to have more expansion programs than any other station I know.

When I first used it regularly it had the following platforms.

  • One long through platform split into two numbered 1 and 4 to handle most traffic.
  • Two bay platforms pointing North for services to Ipswich and Norwich.
  • Two bay platforms pointing South to London.

These have since been joined by a pair of through platforms to the East of the main lines through the station.

Wikipedia says this about Platforms 1 and 4.

  • Platform 1 is a 12-car bi-directional through platform generally used for southbound services to London King’s Cross and northbound services to King’s Lynn. It is also used for some early morning northbound services to Ely and for some late evening terminating services.
  • Platform 4 is a bi-directional 10-car through platform generally used for northbound services to Ely, King’s Lynn and Birmingham New Street. It is also used for some early morning southbound services to London King’s Cross and London Liverpool Street and for some terminating late evening services.

I was told today, that Platform 4 is going to be lengthened by forty metres at its Northern end.

  • This will make Platforms 1 and 4 the same length.
  • It will probably allow twelve-car trains to be run from London to both Cambridge North and Kings Lynn stations.

As both Greater Anglia and Great Northern already have twelve-car trains, adding forty metres of new platform is probably an affordable way to increase capacity between Cambridge and London.

A West Anglia High Speed Service

I like the concept of a high speed service Between King’s Cross and Cambridge.

Cambridge is sucking in the best scientific, engineering and financial talent in the UK and a high speed service to and from London would be ideal for reverse commuters.

Trains would be as I described in Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?.

  • The trains would run non-stop between King’s Cross and Cambridge.
  • The trains would run every thirty minutes.
  • Between London and Hitchen, the trains would run at up to 140 mph under digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Between Hitchin and Cambridge, the trains would run at up to 100 mph on the Cambridge Line.
  • When Cambridge South station opens, the trains would stop at the station.
  • I would run a pair of trains to Cambridge station, where they would split with one train going to King’s Lynn and the other to Norwich.
  • Trains could split in the lengthened Platform 4 in Cambridge station.
  • Returning to London, they would join in Platform 1 at Cambridge station.
  • The King’s Lynn portion would stop at all stations to King’s Lynn.
  • The Norwich portion would stop at Cambridge North and then all stations to Norwich.
  • The 54 miles between Ely and Norwich would be on battery power.
  • All stations to the North of Ely would get a service every thirty minutes.

I can see other services like this starting all over the country.

  • London Euston and Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds
  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln, Grimsby and Cleethorpes
  • London Paddington and Bristol
  • London Paddington and Cardiff
  • London Paddington and Oxford
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester, Derby and Nottingham.
  • London Waterloo and Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth.


  1. The enabling factor would be trains running at 140 mph under full digital control.
  2. Existing 140 mph trains like Class 390 and Class 395 trains could also be used.

The services would generally handle shorter distances than High Speed Two and fill in the gaps left by that network.


August 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.

When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

The Digswell Viaduct Problem

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.


  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line in London, has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The train drivers would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • Norwich would provide the quality premises, that Cambridge is finding hard to develop.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be just over half an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line


  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 2 tph – St. Pancras and Corby – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.


Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.


  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in under half an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.


  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.


  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs


  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

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.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles


  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.


In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.


This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.


  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.


I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

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

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.


  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!


This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.




March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Putting Right Norfolk’s £150m Rail Mistake

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 849 Of Rail Magazine.

The article discusses reopening the the former branch line between King’s Lynn station and Hunstanton, which in the author’s view, was a a mistake on British Rail’s part and nothing to do with Beeching.

This video shows the line just before closing.

Note that John Betjeman was the Michael Portillo of his day, but he had a more traditional dress sense and wrote better poetry.

  • It would be a fifteen mile railway to one of the UK’s top-quality coastal resorts.
  • The track-bed is more or less intact, although it is blocked in places.
  • The branch used to have intermediate stations at North Wootton, Wolferton, Dershingham, Snettisham and Heacham.
  • Wolferton station used to serve the Royal residence of Sandringham.
  • A parkway station at Hunstanton is suggested to replace the former Hunstanton station.

These reasons are given for reopening the line.

  • The number of people over sixty in North West Norfolk is a third over the National average.
  • King’s Lynn is the local centre, with a good shopping centre, hospital and rail and bus connections to all over Norfolk and to Cambridge and London.
  • Young people leave the area to get skilled jobs, when they leave school.
  • Day visitors from places like Cambridge would be encouraged to come by train.
  • The roads are overcrowded.

But possibly, the biggest reason could be to create a rail link to the vast silica sand deposits near Dershingham.

  • Rail would be an ideal way to transport the silica sand, as the roads are crowded now!
  • The quarry near Middleton Towers uses trains to Barnsley, Doncaster and Goole.
  • The development would probably mean more local jobs.

It is also stated, that Norfolk County Council are supportive of rail developments.

These are my thoughts on the proposals.

Kings Lynn Station

King’s Lynn has a quirky Grade II Listed station, as I described in King’s Lynn Station.

  • The station has three platforms and plenty of spare capacity
  • The station is within walking distance of the town centre and bus station.
  • It is likely in future that the train service to Ely, ambridge and London will be at least two trains per hour (tph)

The station could certainly handle passenger trains to and from Hunstanton.

The Fen Line

I believe that any serious increase in the number of trains on the Fen Line, will result in the redoubling of the line.

A double-track line Fen Line, coupled with the sorting of Ely North junction, would probably be able to handle up to twelve tph. which would be more than enough to handle extra passenger and freight trains to Hunstanton.

Tracks Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton

The line would probably be in two parts.

  • King’s Lynn to Dershingham, where passenger and freight services would operate.
  • Dershingham to Hunstanton, where only passenger services would operate.

The line could even be built as a double -track to Dershingham and then single track to Hunstanton.

Electrification would depend on the trains.

Passenger Trains Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton

Passenger trains could serve the branch in one of two ways.

  • The branch could have a shuttle train, that was timetabled to work well with London trains.
  • London trains could go on to Hunstanton with a reverse at King’s Lynn.

The branch would be about the same length as the Felixstowe Branch Line, which has an hourly shuttle to Ipswich.

This simple service should be possible between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, working on the principle of ome-train on branch.

But it would probably make it easy to timetable an extended service as well.

As it is proposed that services between King’s Lynn and Kings Cross are going to be doubled in frequency, there are a lot of decisions to take.

What Type Of Trains Would Run Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton?

Technology is moving on apace and this will drive the choice.

In a few years time, trains could be 125 mph capable on the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn route, as I wrote about in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

The 125 mph would not be needed, but technology like batteries or bi-mode would be available to trundle the train along the route to m Hunstanton.

Independently powered trains, would not require any electrification of the branch, which would reduce the cost of both building and operating the line.

I also think, that we’ll see a high degree of automation to both handle the reverse at king’s Lynn and running along the branch.

Hunstanton Station

The article suggests that Hunstanton station could be a parkway station to the East of the town.

  • The original station site is mainly a car park in the centre of the town.
  • There is space outside the town.

Putting the station to the East would make it easier to extend the railway.

Onward From Hunstanton

On a map in the article, a line to Wells and Fakenham is shown.

Could the author be thinking that the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line eventually ends up as a coastal railway?

He’s certainly not ruling it out.

  • It could go all the way to Sheringham, where it would link up with the service to Norwich?
  • You can see a lot of the old track-bed on Google Map.

But such a line would restore a rail link between King’s Lynn and Norwich.


Reopening the line between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, would appear to be not onoy feaiblre, but also something that could be very financially worthwhile.

April 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 5 Comments

King’s Lynn Station

These pictures show King’s Lynn Station, which is Grade II Listed.


  1. It is not the normal design for a station in the UK.
  2. The station has two platforms, but could have add another.
  3. The facilities are at a high level for a station of this size, with a booking office, toilets and a cafe.
  4. The station was reopened by Michael Portillo. Who else?

Perhaps we should see more station designs, not in a standard corporate mould. Others include Birmingham Moor Street, Hanwell and Hebden Bridge.

The only problems with the station are that there aren’t enough trains and the information and signage for visitors could be better.

In an ideal world this would be the train service

  • At least two trains per hour in both directions.
  • Running between King’s Lynn and Cambridge, stopping at Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge North.
  • Good interchange with services to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Peterborough and Stansted Airport at either Ely or Cambridge.

King’s Lynn station certainly has the capacity for more frequent trains.


April 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments