The Anonymous Widower

The Concept Of Electrification Islands

Consider how Imperial Airways and BOAC used to fly long routes to places like Sydney, Hong Kong and Cape Town before the days of long distance jet airliners. They used to fly from airport to airport, picking up fuel and supplies on the way.

If you want to know more about the details, read what is my favourite travel book, Beyond The Blue Horizon by Alexander Frater.

He followed the Imperial Airways route to Sydney, on what was reputed to be the most complicated ticket, that British Airways ever issued.

But can the concept of flying a short range airliner over a long distance refuelling as necessary, be applied to running a battery electric train by charging the batteries on a series of electrification islands?

In Ipswich And Peterborough In A Battery Train, I described how an Ipswich and Peterborough service could be run by a battery-equipped Class 755 train.

The Ipswich and Peterborough route is 82.5 miles long and it can be split as follows.

  • Ipswich and Haughley Junction – 13.8 miles – Electrified
  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38.2 miles – Not Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified

Legs two and three, should be within the capability of a battery-equipped Class 755 train. No definite figure has been given, but in the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, this was said about the similar Class 756 trains, ordered for the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

Perhaps, what is needed is to create an electrification island at Ely, that can be used to charge the batteries.

An Electrification Island At Ely

This map from Wikipedia shows the complicated railways at Ely,


  1. Ely station is fully electrified.
  2. The line to Cambridge,Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport is fully electrified. Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains between Norwich and Stansted Airport, change between diesel and electrification at Ely.
  3. The line to Kings Lynn is fully electrified.
  4. The lines to Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough are not electrified.
  5. Ely is a city of 20,000 inhabitants, so I suspect it must have a robust electricity supply.
  6. Freight trains take about five minutes to pass between Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions.
  7. Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions are 2.5 miles apart.
  8. There appears to be an avoiding line South-East of Ely station, where I’ve seen trains from Felixstowe to Peterborough sometimes wait for a few minutes before proceeding.
  9. There is also a lot of space at March station, where a passing loop with a charging station could be built.

I believe it would be possibly to do the following at Ely.

  • Electrify the West Curve and the South-East avoiding line.
  • Electrify the Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough lines for perhaps five miles.
  • If required, put a high capacity charging station on the avoiding line.

There would be plenty of electrification to charge the trains.

An alternative plan might be to electrify between March station and the new Soham station, which has been planned to open in 2021.

  • This would be around eighteen miles of electrification.
  • This would certainly be enough electrification to fully-charge passing freight and passenger trains.
  • Soham to Ely could be doubled.
  • The extra electrification would mean the two unelectrified sections of the Ipswich and Peterborough route; Haughley Junction-Soham and March-Peterborough would be well within range of a battery-electric train.
  • The proposed service between Cambridge and Wisbech would only have the twelve miles of the Bramley Line between March and Wisbech to run on battery power.

It might also be possible to put in an extra curve to make Ely Dock Junction, a full triangular junction. This would allow the new Soham station to have direct services to both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations, without a reverse at Ely station.

Other Possible Electrification Islands

I’ll break these down by regions and train operators.

East Anglia (Greater Anglia)

Greater Anglia only runs trains on diesel to the North of Cambridge and Ipswich, which are both fully electrified, as is Norwich.

I would consider Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich and Norwich to be electrification islands.

  • All have a good connection to the electrification power supply, as they handle main line electric trains.
  • All or most platforms at the stations are electrified to charge trains.
  • There are electrified sidings at Cambridge and Norwich and possibly at Ipswich.

Lowestoft and Yarmouth might be fitted with charging systems to make sure a fault doesn’t strand a train.

In Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’, I talked about a report in Rail Magazine, which said that the Class 755 trains will get a battery fitted at the first overhaul.

I wouldn’t be surprised, that in a couple of years, Greater Anglia announces the end of diesel power on some or all of their services.

East Coast Main Line (LNER and Others)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line (ECML), is increasingly becoming a railway where the vast majority of services are run by versions of Hitachi AT-300 trains.

Classes 800, 802 and 803 are bi-modes and can probably have some or all of their diesel engines replaced by batteries.

In Sparking A Revolution, I gave this specification for a Hitachi battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I will use these figures from Hitachi in this post.

Electrification Islands On The East Coast Main Line

There are several large and smaller stations along the ECML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.



  • Cleethorpes station would need a decent electricity supply. Offshore wind?
  • Doncaster is 52 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 37 miles away.
  • Newark is 63 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 29 miles away.

If you can get battery-electric trains to Cleethorpes, you also serve Grimsby Town station, which is three miles closer to the ECML.

With electrification islands at Lincoln and Scunthorpe and Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery range of at least sixty miles, electric trains could be run to Cleethorpes and Grimsby.

Would that improve the economy of the area?


Darlington station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bishop Auckland is 12 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 15 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 20 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 27 miles away.
  • Whitby is 47 miles away.

Darlington could support battery-electric operation of the Tees Valley Line, if the route doesn’t go for hydrogen. Note that hydrogen would probably also handle services from Middlesbrough to Newcastle, Nunthorpe and Whitby with ease.

Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.


Doncaster station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Cleethorpes is 52 miles away.
  • Hull is 40 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 25 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 19 miles away.

Doncaster could certainly support some battery-electric services.


Grantham station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Nottingham is 22 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham and Skegness services seem to take about four minutes to reverse in the station.

The Nottingham and Skegness service could take advantage of the driver changing ends to top up the battery.



  • Hull is a city of nearly 300,000 people, so it must have a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull station is under forty miles from the electrification of the ECML.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Scarborough is 54 miles away.
  • York is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.

I would certainly suspect that with an electrification island at Hull, the Hitachi AT-300 trains of Hull Trains and LNER could certainly run fully electric services to the city, if they were fitted with batteries.

With an electrification island at Scarborough, could Hull Trains and LNER services be extended to Scarborough?


Leeds station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • It also has electrified services to Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton.
  • Leeds and Huddersfield will be electrified in the next few years.

Harrogate is 18 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.



  • Lincoln station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 37 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Newark is 16 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.
  • Nottingham is 34 miles away and Leicester is 61 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 21 miles away.

With an electrification island at Lincoln, the following should be possible.

  • Electric services between Cleethorpes and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Doncaster and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Nottingham/Leicester and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. Electrify the Midland Main Line (MML) and this is easy.
  • Electric services between Peterborough and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. It may need an electrification island at Sleaford.
  • Electric services between London Kings Cross and Grimsby/Cleethorpes using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery, that is charged on the ECML and at Lincoln.

The London Kings Cross and Lincoln services could top up their batteries if required if they were run using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery

Surely, if Class 755 trains are good enough for Norfolk and Suffolk and both franchises are run by Abellio, then battery versions of these trains would be ideal for running services from Lincoln to Cleethorpes/Grimsby, Doncaster, Newark, Nottingham, Peterborough and Skegness.


If required an electrification island could be placed at Middlesbrough station.

  • Darlington is 15 miles away.
  • Newcastle is 47 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 13 miles away.
  • Whitby is 35 miles away.

This area might opt for hydrogen, but I believe battery-electric trains could also work the routes through Middlesbrough and Darlington. Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.



  • Newark North Gate station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 63 miles away.
  • Grimsby is 60 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 16 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 17 miles away.

With an electrification island at Cleethorpes/Grimsby, battery-electric services could be extended to either town. They would need to use the electrification island at Lincoln station to top-up the battery.


Newcastle station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Carlisle is 61 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 47 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 52 miles away.

Newcastle could surely support local services using battery-electric trains. They could be dual-voltage, so they can use Tyne and Wear Metro electrification.


Peterborough station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Ely is 31 miles away.
  • Leicester is 52 miles away, with Birmingham another 40 miles further.
  • Lincoln is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 35 miles away.

It might even be possible for Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery to be able to run between Stansted Airport and Birmingham for CrossCountry.

  • Stansted and Ely – 38 miles – Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Peterborough – 6 miles – Electrified (ECML)
  • Peterborough and Leicester – 52 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leicester and Nuneaton – 19 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Nuneaton – 3 miles – Electrified (WCML)
  • Nuneaton and Birmingham – 21 miles – Not Electrified


  1. Trains would charge when running under electrification and also during station stops in Cambridge, Ely, Peterborough  Leicester and Nuneaton.
  2. Trains would automatically raise and lower their pantographs as required.
  3. There may be scope to add sections of extra electrification.
  4. For example, electrification of the MML could add as much as eight miles of electrification, through Leicester.

As much as forty percent of the route between Birmingham and Stansted could be electrified.

Sandy/St. Neots

It is planned that the East West Railway (EWR) and the ECML will cross at an interchange station somewhere in this area.


Both stations are on the electrified ECML, so must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bedford is 10 miles away.
  • The electrification South of Cambridge is about 20 miles away.

It would surely be possible to create an electrification island, where the two major routes cross at Sandy/St. Neots.



  • Scarborough station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull is 54 miles away.
  • York is 42 miles away.

With charging facilities at Scarborough battery-electric trains could be run to the seaside resort.

  • I also think it would be possible to run a direct service between London Kings Cross and Scarborough using Hitachi AT-300 trains with batteries, either via York or Hull.
  • TransPennine’s Hitachi trains could also read Scarborough from York, if fitted with batteries.

Would battery-electric trains between Hull, Scarborough and York attract more users of the services?


If required an electrified island could be placed at Sleaford station.

  • Sleaford would need a decent electricity supply.
  • The station is where the Nottingham and Skegness and Peterborough and Lincoln routes cross.
  • Grantham on the ECML is 18 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 35 miles away.
  • Skegness is 40 miles away.

Services through Sleaford would be run as follows.

As Lincoln and Peterborough are likely to both have the ability to charge trains, the Peterborough and Lincoln route can probably be run using a battery-electric train, that also charges during the stop at Sleaford.

To run the Nottingham and Skegness route, there will need to be a charging facility or an electrification island at Skegness, as forty miles is to far from an out and back from Sleaford on battery power. The section between Sleaford and Nottingham is easier, as there is a reverse at the fully-electrified Grantham station, where the trains could top-up their batteries.


York station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • Harrogate is 20 miles away, with Leeds another 18 miles further.
  • Hull is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.
  • Scarborough is 42 miles away.

It would appear that battery-electric trains could work the routes between Doncaster, Harrogate, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough and York.

Midland Main Line (East Midlands Railway)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line (MML) is a mixture of electrified and non-electrified sections. East Midlands Railway have chosen Hitachi Class 810 trains to cope with the mixed infrastructure.

  • There will be thirty-three five car trains.
  • They will have four diesel engines instead of three in the Class 800 trains.
  • They will have a redesigned nose.

Are East Midlands Railway ordering a dual-purpose design?

In the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, this is said about the bi-mode Hitachi Class AT-300 trains for Avanti West Coast.

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.


  • Both fleets of trains are for delivery in 2022.
  • Ease of manufacture would surely mean, that Hitachi would want the two fleets to be substantially the same.
  • A train with four engines could be needed to cruise at 125 mph on diesel.
  • Four engine slots would mean that, if you were replacing some engines with batteries, you’d have more flexibility.

Hitachi seem to be playing an inscrutable game.

This section entitled Powertrain in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, says this about the powertrain for Class 800/801/802 trains.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.

Hitachi must have found a way to arrange four GUs under a Class 810 train.

  • They could be using slightly smaller engines. Smaller engines could be fitted to curb overheating.
  • The engines might be in pairs under vehicles 2 and 4, possibly sharing utilities like fuel tanks and cooling systems.

But as the vehicles are two metres shorter, it wouldn’t be a shoe-in.

When the trains are to be upgraded to battery electric trains, an appropriate number of GUs would be replaced by batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that both Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway will have trains that can be converted from five-car bi-mode trains into battery-electric trains, with a range of between 55 and 65 miles.

  • As a control engineer, I believe that a battery could be made to be plug compatible with a GU.
  • An extra battery could be placed under vehicle 3, in the spare engine position.

I reckon that Hitachi’s quote of a sixty-five mile range would at 3 kWh per vehicle-mile need about one MWh of batteries.

That is 200 kWh per vehicle, so I feel it should be possible.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Current plans for electrified sections of the MML are as follows.

  • London St. Pancras and Corby – 79.5 miles – Opening December 2020
  • London St. Pancras and Market Harborough – 83 miles – Opening December 2020
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – 15.5 miles – To be built in conjunction with High Speed Two

The gap between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is about 66 miles.

Electrification Islands On The Midland Main Line

As with the ECML, there are several large and smaller stations along the MML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.


In Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge, I came to the conclusion, that the East West Railway (EWR) and the MML, would share electrified tracks through Bedford station.

  • There are also rumours of electrification of the East West Railway, which I wrote about in EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification, after an article in Rail Magazine with the same title.
  • But even so Bedford and Cambridge are only thirty miles apart, which is well within the capability of a battery-electric train.
  • Continuing to the West on the EWR, it is under twenty miles to the electrification at Bletchley on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

It looks to be that battery-electric trains running on the EWR would be able to charge their batteries as they pass through Bedford.

  • It does appear to me, that the EWR chose a route through Bedford that would make this feasible.
  • It would also be relatively easy to electrify the EWR to the East and/or West of Bedford to increase the time using electrification, to fully charge the trains.
  • As Cambridge and Bletchley are around fifty miles apart, this journey between two fully-electrified stations, would be possible for a battery-electric train, especially, if it were able to take a sip of electricity in the possible stops at Bedford and Sandy or St. Neots.

If in the end, it is decided to electrify the EWR, Bedford would surely be a location, with enough power to feed the electrification.


Leicester station is an important station on the MML.

  • Leicester is an urban area of half a million people.
  • All of East Midlands Railway Intercity services call as they pass through the station.
  • Leicester station is only sixteen miles North of the end of the Southern electrification at Market Harborough station.
  • Birmingham New Street is 40 miles away.
  • Clay Cross North Junction is 50 miles away.
  • Derby is 29 miles away.
  • East Midlands Parkway is 19 miles away.
  • Long Eaton is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 27 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 52 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 66 miles away.

A sensible decision would probably be to extend the electrification from Market Harborough to a few miles North of Leicester, so that battery-electric trains could reach all the places in the above list.

Unfortunately, the following about the bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station, must be noted.

  • The bridge doesn’t have sufficient clearance for electrification and would need to be rebuilt.
  • It carries the main A6 road to London over the railway
  • To complicate matters, there is an important sewer either in or under the bridge.

This Google Map shows the bridge and the Southern end of the station.

It looks to me, that Leicester station and the road, would have to be closed to traffic for some time, if the bridge were to be rebuilt, to allow the erection of electrification through the area.

A solution could be discontinuous electrification.

  • The electrification from the South, would finish on the South side of bridge.
  • The electrification from the North, would finish in Leicester station.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of a couple of hundred metres on battery power.

Pantographs could be raised and lowered, where the wires exist.

East Midlands Parkway

East Midlands Parkway station is nineteen miles North of Leicester station.

This Google Map shows its unique position.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is the eighteenth highest emitter of CO2 in Europe and will surely be closed soon.

But then, a power station, will have a good connection to the National Grid, ensuring there could be plenty of power for electrification, even after the current power station is long gone, as it will surely be replaced by another power station or energy storage.

East Midlands Parkway station is also well-connected.

  • Clay Cross North Junction is 31 miles away.
  • Derby is 10 miles away.
  • Leicester is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 8 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 47 miles away.

It should be possible to reach all these places on battery-power from East Midlands Parkway.

Electrification Between Leicester And East Midlands Parkway

The more I look at this stretch of the MML, the more I feel that this eighteen mile stretch should be electrified to create what could become a linear electrification island.


  • It is a 125 mph multi-track railway across fairly flat countryside.
  • Connecting electrification to the grid is often a problem, but Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is adjacent to East Midlands Parkway station.
  • The section is only eighteen miles long, but this is surely long enough to fully-charge a battery train speeding to and from the capital.
  • There are only four intermediate stations; Syston, Sileby, Barrow-on-Soar and Loughborough.
  • The engineering for gauge clearance and electrification, looks to be no more difficult, than it will be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  • Between Leicester and Market Harborough stations is only sixteen miles.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham is only eight miles, so it would be possible for Nottingham services to run without a charge at Nottingham station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Derby is only ten miles, so it would be possible for Derby services to run without a charge at Derby station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and the shared electrified section with High Speed Two at Clay Cross North Junction is thirty-one miles, so it would be possible for Sheffield services to be run without using diesel, once the shared electrification is complete between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Battery-electric trains between East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction could also use the Erewash Valley Line through Ikeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton.
  • There would be no need to electrify through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills that lies between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, as trains will be speeding through on battery power. Electrifying through this section, might be too much for some people.
  • If the trains can’t switch between battery and overhead electrification power, the changeover can be in Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations. However, I believe that Hitachi’s AT-300 trains can do the changeover at line speed.

The electrification could also be used by other services.

  • Between Corby and Syston North Junction is only thirty-six miles, so it would be possible to run electric services between London St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield via Corby, if the main route were to be blocked by engineering work.
  • Between Peterborough and Syston East Junction is forty-seven miles, so it should be possible to run CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service using battery-electric trains. If the train could leave Leicester with a full battery, both Birmingham New Street and Peterborough should be within range.
  • East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service run for a distance of sixty-one miles via East Midlands Parkway, Nottingham and Newark stations. Electrification between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway, would mean there was just forty-two miles to do on battery power. An electrification island at Lincoln would charge the train for return.

Battery-electric trains with a range of between 55 and 65 miles would really open up the East Midlands to electric services if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway were to be electrified.

London And Sheffield In A Battery-Electric Class 810 Train

This is speculation on my part, but I think this could be how trains run London to Sheffield before 2030.

  • London to Market Harborough – 83 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • Market Harborough to Leicester – 16 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification in Leicester station
  • Leicester to East Midlands Parkway – 19 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • East Midlands Parkway to Clay Cross North Junction – 31 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification at line speed.
  • Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield – 15.5 miles – Using electrification


  1. 118 miles would be run using electrification and 47 miles using battery power.
  2. Battery power has been used to avoid the tricky electrification at Leicester station and along the Derwent Valley.

I don’t believe any of the engineering will be any more difficult, than what has been achieved on the MML in the last year or so.



  • Nottingham station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Nottingham is a large city of over 300,000 people.
  • Nottingham station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Nottingham station has an excellent connection to Nottingham Express Transit.
  • Birmingham New Street is 57 miles away, via Derby and Burton.
  • Burton-on-Trent is 27 miles away.
  • Derby is 16 miles away.
  • Grantham is 23 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 34 miles away.
  • Matlock is 33 miles away.
  • Newark is 17 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 40 miles away.
  • Worksop is 32 miles away.
  • Most of these local services are run by East Midlands Railway, with some services run by Northern and CrossCountry.
  • Some services run back-to-back through Nottingham.

I feel very strongly that if charging is provided in Nottingham, when trains turnback or pass through the station, that many of the local services can be run by battery-electric trains.

Previously, I have shown, that if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway is electrified, then services between London and Nottingham, can be run by battery-electric trains.

There is also a fall-back position at Nottingham, as the local services could be run by hydrogen-powered trains.


Sheffield station would at first glance appear to be very similar to Nottingham.

  • Sheffield station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Sheffield is a large urban area of 700,000 people.
  • Sheffield station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Sheffield station has an excellent connection to the Sheffield Supertram.

But it looks like Sheffield station will see the benefits of electrification the Northern section of the MML from Clay Cross North Junction.

  • The 15.5 miles of electrification will be shared with the Sheffield spur of High Speed Two.
  • Currently, trains take sixteen minutes between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • Electrification and an improved high-speed track will allow faster running, better acceleration and a small saving of time.
  • A Sheffield train will be charged going to and from Sheffield, so will leave Clay Cross North Junction for Derby and the South with full batteries.
  • There must also be opportunities for local trains running between Sheffield and Class Cross Junction North to use the electrification and be run by battery-electric trains.

Current destinations include.

  • Derby is 36 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 19 miles away.
  • Huddersfield is 36 miles away.
  • Leeds is 45 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 49 miles away.
  • Manchester Piccadilly is 42 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40.5 miles away.


  1. Doncaster, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly stations are fully electrified.
  2. Work on electrifying Huddersfield and Leeds will start in a year or so, so Huddersfield will be electrified.
  3. I am firly sure that Lincoln and Nottingham will have enough electrification to recharge and turn trains.
  4. Some routes are partially electrified.

As with Nottingham, I am fairly sure, that local services at Sheffield could be run by battery-electric trains. And the same fall-back of hydrogen-powered trains, would also apply.

Sheffield And Manchester Piccadilly In A Battery-Electric Train


  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, at least five miles of the Hope Valley Line at the Sheffield end will be electrified.
  • It may be prudent to electrify through Totley Tunnel to increase the electrification at Sheffield to ten miles.
  • The route via Stockport is 43 miles long of which nine miles at the Manchester End is electrified.
  • The route via Marple is 42 miles long of which two miles at the Manchester End is electrified.

There would appear to be no problems with running the TransPennine Express service between Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes using battery-electric trains, as from Hazel Grove to Manchester Airport is fully electrified and in the East, they can charge the batteries at Sheffield, Doncaster and a future electrification island at Cleethorpes.

The Northern service between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield could be run using battery-electric trains with some more electrification at the Manchester End or an extended turnback in Manchester Piccadilly.

Transport for Manchester has plans to run improve services at their end of the Hope Valley Line, with tram-trains possible to Glossop and Hadfield.

It would probably be worthwhile to look at the Hope Valley Line to make sure, it has enough future capacity. I would suspect the following could be likely.

  • More electrification.
  • More stations.
  • Battery-electric trains or tram-trains from Manchester to Glossop, Hadfield, New Mills Central, Rose Hill Marple and Sheffield.

I would suspect one solution would be to use more of Merseyrail’s new dual-voltage Class 777 trains, which have a battery capability.

Sheffield And Nottingham In A Battery-Electric Train


  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, 15.5 miles of the route will be electrified.
  • The total length of the route is 40.5 miles.
  • There are intermediate stops at Dronfield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston.
  • Currently, journeys seem to take around 53 minutes.

I think it would be likely that the battery would need to be topped up at Nottingham, but I think a passenger-friendly timetable can be developed.

West Coast Main Line (Avanti West Coast)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line (WCML) is a mainly electrified and with some non-electrified extended routes. Avanti West Coast have chosen Hitachi AT-300 trains to cope with infrastructure.

  • There will be ten seven-car electric trains.
  • There will be thirteen five-car bi-mode trains.

As these trains will be delivered after East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains and East Coast Trains’ Class 803 trains, the following questions must be asked.

  • Will the trains have the redesigned nose of the Class 810 trains?
  • Will the bi-mode trains have four diesel engines (Class 810 trains) or three ( Class 800 trains)?
  • Will the electric trains ordered by First Group companies; Avanti West Coast and East Coast Trains be similar, except for the length?

I would expect Hitachi will want the trains to be as similar as possible for ease of manufacture.

Electrification Islands On The West Coast Main Line

As with the ECML and the MML, there are a couple of large and smaller stations along the WCML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.

Watford Junction

Watford Junction station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

Services around Watford Junction have possibilities to be expanded and improved using battery-electric trains.

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Central station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • East West Railway services will call at Bletchley and not Milton Keynes.
  • There may be a connection between East West Rail and High Speed Two at Calvert station, which is 15 miles away.
  • Milton Keynes will get a service from Aylesbury, which is 22 miles away.

There may be possibilities to link Watford Junction and Milton Keynes via Aylesbury using battery-electric trains to give both places a connection to High Speed Two at a new Calvert station.







April 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on Derbyshire Live.

The idea of using hydrogen power came about after some people worried about the noise of trains, if the full route were to reopen.

The Proposed Route

The proposed route that would be reopened is the Leicester and Burton-on-Trent Line.

  • The route is double-track.
  • It is around forty miles long.
  • It is still used by freight trains, so the track must be in serviceable condition.
  • There are no stations.

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.


  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

There is only one class of passenger train, that can go round tight curves and that is a Class 399 tram-train!

So to enable trains to go direct around the corner, the option is either expensive disruptive demolition or use something like tram-train technology or a specially designed bendy train.

The Ivanhoe Line

The route was originally planned to be the second part of the Ivanhoe Line, but this was discontinued after rail privatisation.

Services on this line is an hourly service between Leicester and Lincoln Central stations.

  • Intermediate stations are Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Beeston, Nottingham, Newark Castle, Collingham, Swinderby and Hykeham.
  • Services can get overcrowded, as the service is run by two-car trains.
  • Platforms would need to be lengthened for longer trains.

Extending this service to Burton station would surely be good for connectivity at and through Leicester.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Possible New Stations In Leicester

I have mentioned new stations in Leicester, so here’s a few more thoughts.

Leicester Reversal Station

A friend said that to reverse the trains between Leicester and Burton, a station has been proposed to be built, south of Knighton Junction.

This Google Map shows the junction and the line to the South.

Only a single-platform station would be needed and it would be a simple and affordable solution to British Rail’s lack of vision of the future.

Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would eicester City want a station?

Braunstone Station

This Google Map shows the rail line running through Braunstone.

The rail line is at the top of the map.

Leicester Forest East Station

I wrote about this possible station in A Station At Leicester Forest East.

Burton Station

Intriguingly, Burton station is run by East Midlands Railway, who run no services to the town.

Services are provided by CrossCountry using a variety of long distance services.

The South Staffordshire Line connects Burton and Birmingham.

Part of this line is being converted to become an extension of the West Midlands Metro and Staffordshire County Council have looked at converting the whole route to tram-train operation to bring trams to Burton to promote tourism.

Hydrogen Power

I estimate that the distance between Lincoln and Burton is about a hundred miles.

Alstom are predicting a range of several hundred miles for their hydrogen trains for their Breeze train, which should mean a round trip to Lincoln from Burton will surely be in range.

Refuelling could be at a suitable place on the route.

In Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles, I talk about how iTM Power are building hydrogen refuelling stations for road vehicles.

As the company is already building stand-alone hydrogen fuelling stations for fleets of buses in Birmingham and Pau, I’m sure that one for a fleet of trains is not a problem.

All their filling stations need is a small amount of space, a supply of tap water and a connection to the electricity grid.

It should be noted that Central Rivers Depot is four miles South of Burton.


There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to Eat Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps says he supports the reopening of routes closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

In the article, which describes proceedings in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps, says he was very supportive of opening the Market Harborough Line.

Digging around the Internet, I found this article on the Harborough Mail, which is entitled Harborough Rail Group Says Plan To Reopen Historic Line Is A ‘Excellent Idea’.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Moves to reopen the historic Market Harborough-Northampton railway line are being backed by a local rail passengers’ chief.

The Market Harborough-Northampton Line was only finally closed in 1981.

  • It used to connect the two stations with a double-track railway.
  • It is about fourteen miles long.
  • It is now partly a heritage railway and a walking and cycling route called the Brampton Valley Way.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and can make these observations.

  • There is space for a bay platform at Market Harborough station.
  • Once clear of Market Hrborough, the route appears to be across open countryside.
  • The connection to the Northampton Loop Line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The only problem, I can see is that the route into Market Harborough station could be tricky.

These are a few of my thoughts.

What Passenger Service Would Be Provided?


  • The route could certainly handle an hourly shuttle, as does the nearby Marston Vale Line.
  • Northampton station currently has three trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  • Timings between Northampton and Market Harborough stations would probably be around twenty minutes.
  • Fast services between Northampton and Euston take about an hour.
  • Four tph between Northampton and London would probably be desirable.

So could a fourth service to and from London, be extended to Market Harborough station? Or perhaps even Leicester, which already has a platform, where the trains could be turned back?

  • I estimate that with a ten minute turnround at Market Harborough, a three hour round trip would be possible and very convenient.
  • A single track between Northampton and Market Harborough station would be enough.
  • The fourteen miles between the two stations could be handled by a battery-electric train, as there will be electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric Class 350 train.

It looks to be a very sensible proposition.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the rail line between Milton Keynes Central and Northampton stations.

It is planned to introduce, a service between Marylebone and Milton Keynes Central using the tracks of the East West Rail Link.

  • It could be run by East West Rail or Chiltern.
  • It might be an easier service to operate as trains wouldn’t need to be turned back at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It might be a better financial option, if services were to be extended to Northampton and Market Harborough.

As the East West Rail Link is being built by a private company, do they have plans to create services between say Leicester and Oxford?

Could Freight Trains Use The  Northampton And Market Harborough Line?


  • A large rail freight interchange is being developed close to East Midlands Airport.
  • The East West Rail Link will be a better route between Southampton Docks and the West Coast Main Line, than the current roundabout routes.
  • Multimodal trains need to travel between the East Midlands and Sheffield and Southampton Docks.
  • Stone trains need to travel between the North Midlands and West London.

If the  Northampton and Market Harborough Line were to be reopened, it would provide a convenient freight route between the Midland Main Line and the Great Western Main Line.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Electrified?


  • It joins the electrified Midland Main Line at Market Harborough station.
  • It joins the electrified Northampton Loop Line at Northampton station.
  • It is only fourteen miles long.
  • Most trains should be able to bridge use the line on battery power.
  • It will be a new well-surveyed railway, which is easier to electrify.

I suspect, whether the line is electrified will be more down to planning issues.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Double Track?

The line was double-track when it closed and I think that only planning issues will stop it being reopened as a double track.

Is the Opening Of The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Being Driven By The East West Rail Link?

This is a paragraph from the Rail Magazine article.

Asked by Andrew Lewer (Con) at Transport Questions on October 24 whether he would elaborate on plans to open the proposed Market Harborough line as part of the Oxford to Cambridge expressway he said: “I understand that the reopening is at a formative stage, but I am very supportive of it. Indeed, I support the reopening of many of the smaller lines that were closed as a result of the Beeching cuts under a Labour Government, and I should like to see as many reopened as possible.”

Does that mean that The East West Rail Link is driving this project?


Reopening of the Northampton and Market Harborough Line  could be a nice little earner for the East West Rail Link.

  • Freight trains between Southampton Docks and the Midlands and Yorkshire.
  • Stone trains between the North Midlands and London.
  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and/or Reading and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.

These sections could be electrified.

  • Basingstoke and Reading
  • Didcot Packway and Oxford
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • Northampton and Market Harborough

Much of the abandoned Electric Spine would have been created.



October 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Railway Station Between Hinckley And Nuneaton Receives Backing

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

This is the first paragraph of the article.

Plans for a new railway station between Hinckley and Nuneaton looks set to go ahead following backing from councillors.

The station will be called Nuneaton Parkway.

This page on Coventry Live gives some more information.

There is also a proposed station, to be called Nuneaton Parkway, situated off the A5 between Hinckley and Nuneaton.

This Google Map shows the area where the A5 crosses the Birmingham-Peterborough Line, that runs between Hinckley and Nuneaton..

This must surely be one of the best sites to build a new Parkway station in the UK.

  • The triangular site is a waste transfer station operated by Veolia Environmental Services UK.
  • It has a direct connection to the A5, which could be easily improved, with perhaps a roundabout.
  • Doing a crude estimate from the Google Map, I calculate that the site is about sixteen hactares, which is surely a good size for a Parkway station.
  • There’s even quite a lot of new housing within walking and cycling distance.

It would also appear that the station could be built on this site without major disruption to either road or rail traffic.

Train Services

Currently the train service passing the proposed site of Nuneaton Parkway, which stops at both Hinckley and Nuneaton stations is as follows.

  • An hourly CrossCountry service between Birmingham New Street and Leicester.
  • In addition there are four trains per day between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport and/or Cambridge.
  • All trains take seven minutes between Nuneaton and Hinckley.

But just under forty trains per day is not enough.

In my view, there should be a train at least every half-hour and preferably four trains per hour (tph) between Birmingham New Street and Leicester.

What About Coventry and Birmingham International?

Services between Nuneaton and Birmingham go via Coleshill Parkway and don’t call at Coventry and Birmingham International for the Airport, High Speed Two and the National Exhibition Centre.

So could there be a Birmingham New Street and Leicester service via Birmingham International, Coventry, Coventry Arena, Nuneaton, Nuneaton Parkway and Hinckley?

London, Liverpool and Manchester Via Nuneaton

Currently, the Nuneaton and London service is hourly and timed badly for connections at Nuneaton.

If it is intended that passengers will park at Nuneaton Parkway station and go to and from London, Liverpool or Manchester, the following must be arranged.

  • At least four tph calling at Nuneaton, Nuneaton Parkway and Hinckley.
  • At least two tph from West Midland Trains going between London Euston and Crewe calling at Nuneaton.
  • Perhaps one tph from Virgin Trains calling at Nuneaton.
  • A big improvement in cafes and waiting rooms at Nuneaton.

Note that times between Nuneaton and London Euston are as follows.

  • West Midlands Trains – 78 minutes
  • Virgin Trains – 69 minutes

Perhaps West Midlands Trains should be running trains with the same performance as Virgin?

Could Battery-Electric Trains Be Used Between Birmingham New Street And Leicester?

The route between Birmingham New Street and Leicester is not electrified, but two important stations; Birmingham New Street and Nuneaton are both wired, as is the route between Coventry and Birmingham New Street via Birmingham International.

Distances between Nuneaton and other stations, where independent power would be needed are.

  • Birmingham New Street via Coleshill Parkway – 21 miles.
  • Leicester – 19 miles or 38 miles return.
  • Coventry – 10 miles

These distances are all feasible for battery operation.

In Porterbrook Makes Case For Battery/Electric Bi-Mode Conversion, I talked about Porterbrook’s plan to convert redundant Class 350 trains into battery-electric trains.

  • They are four-car electric trains.
  • They were built within the last ten years.
  • They are currently used by West Midlands Trains.

In the related post, I estimated that these converted trains would have the following battery ranges for the power usages shown, if they were to be fitted with 400 kWh of batteries. I chose 400 kWh as this is the battery capacity of a Three-car Class 230 train.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 20 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 25 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 33.3 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 50 miles

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that.

  • A Class 801 train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • An IOnterCity125 train needs 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • A Class 222 train needs 4.83 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • A Class 170 train needs 3.15 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 100 mph.

Looking at the last figure for the Class 170 train, I feel that a modern electric train must surely be as or more efficient and I’m justified to assume that a well-designed battery-electric train based on a Class 350 train, should be capable of a power usage of 3 k|Wh per vehicle mile, which would give a 33.3 mile range.

If more range was needed to handle Nuneaton and Leicester, the following could be done.

  • Install a bigger battery in the trains.
  • Install a charging station at Leicester.
  • Extend the electrificationfrom Nuneaton for a few miles.

I very much believe that within a few years, the technology exists to have 100 mph battery electric trains running between Birmingham and Leicester, getting a quick charge en route at Nuneaton.


My logical thinking leads me to the conclusion, that a high-frequency service between Birmingham New Street and Leicester could grow into a Crossrail-style service.

  • Six tph between Birmingham New Street and :Leicester.
  • Services split between Birmingham New Street and Nuneaton, with some trains going via Coleshill and others via Coventry and Birmingham International.
  • There could be extensions from Coventry to Leamington and Birmingham to Wolverhampton and Bromsgrove.
  • Centred on Nuneaton Parkway.
  • Possibly run by battery-electric trains.

Although the Crossrail branding is possibly overused these days.


September 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leicester Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at Leicester station today.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Long Straight Platforms

The two main platforms for trains to and from London are long and straight and can easily accommodate the longest trains that do or will use the station.

Wide Spacious Platforms

The two island platforms are wide and spacious.

In my time at the station, I didn’t see any trains use the outer platforms and I do wonder if the station is used to the maximum capacity allowed by the layout.

The Station Could Have More Trains And Be A Better Interchange

When you arrive at Ipswich station on a fast train from London, one of the half-hourly services has an easy connection to either Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and/or Peterborough. and staff and information screens are there to speed you on your way.

Leicester station doesn’t seem to welcome you to continue your journey elsewhere

Abellio And Ipswich Station

Abellio with their new trains and timetable, will be increasing frequencies, so that Suffolk’s County Town with a population of 133,000, will have the following services.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to Bury St. Edmunds. – Doubled from current.
  • One tph to Cambridge – A second hourly service will be available with a change at Ely.
  • One tph to Felixstowe – Might be doubled, now thst the Felixstowe branch has more capacity.
  • Three-four tph to London – Faster and up from two expresses and a stopping train per hour.
  • One tph to Lowestoft – Better timetable and faster.
  • Three tph to Norwich – Up from two tph
  • One tph to Peterborough – Doubled from current one train per two hours.

The creation of the East-West Rail Link will see a doubling of the service to Cambridge and one train per two hours to Oxford.

Applying Abellio’s East Anglian Rules To Leicester

Leicester is a city and County Town, with a population of 330,000.

These appear to be the current services.

  • Two tph to Birmingham
  • One tph to Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport
  • Two tph to Derby
  • One tph to Lincoln – Stopping train via Loughborough and East Midlands Parkway.
  • Four tph to London
  • Two tph to Nottingham
  • Two tph to Sheffield

Leicester doesn’t seem to have the sort of train service the City deserves.

This is the London, Ipswich and Norwich philosophy as proposed by Abellio and in the process of being delivered.

  • New maximum-length and maximum-speed high-capacity Class 745 trains will provide more seats on the route.
  • A fifty per-cent increase in train frequency from two tph to three tph.
  • Four express services per day, only stopping at Ipswich, have been introduced, giving a ninety minute service between London and Norwich.
  • Four trains per day between Lowestoft and London.

What would a similar philosophy for London Midland Main Line, look like at Leicester?

  • Three tph to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • Six tph to London
  • Three tph to Nottingham
  • All trains would be maximum-length with a capacity at least similar to a 2+8 HST.
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 745 trains will have 757 seats in two classes and a buffet. Expect a similar specification on the Midland Main Line.
  • Services will be faster, with I suspect no trains taking longer than an hour from Leicester to London or Sheffield.
  • Could there be a couple of non-stop trains every hour between London and Leicester?

This service would be a lot better and it only needs.

  • An extra tph between London and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • An extra tph between London and Nottingham.
  • Enough new maximum-length trains, which will probably be bi-mode trains, that are scheduled to arrive in 2022.

Four tph between London and Sheffield and London and Nottingham would surely be the ideal, but there just isn’t the capacity to the South of Kettering and in St. Pancras station.

So will we see extra services on the Midland Main Line to boost services North of Leicester?

  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston, Langley Mill, Alfreton and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Nottingham via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.
  • The one tph Leicester to Lincoln service could also be included.

The services would be as follows.

  • Trains would probably be shorter versions of the maximum-length bi-mode Midland Main Line trains.
  • They would use the outer platforms at Leicester station to give cross-platform interchange with the frequent London trains.
  • Services could possibly be extended past Sheffield to Leeds and past Nottinghm to Newark or Lincoln.

Leicester’s excellent platform design would see an increase in the number of trains and hopefully passengers.

Leicester And East-West Services

I also think, that there is sufficient capacity in Leicester station to add the following East-West services.

  • Four tph to Birmingham
  • Four tph to Cambridge
  • Four tph to Peterborough

The following should be noted.

  • Abellio has a substantial interest in all three stations and Leicester.
  • The routes are often run by two-car Class 170 trains.
  • The trains are often full.
  • There is only short sections of lines that are electrified.

I believe that there should be the  following service between Birmingham and Cambridge.

  • Four tph
  • At least four-car bi-mode trains.
  • At least a 100 mph capability.
  • Stops would include Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March and Ely.
  • At the Birmingham end, services could go via Birmingham International and Coventry.
  • At the Cambridge end. perhaps two tph could be extended to Audley End and Stansted Airport.
  • At Leicester there would be an easy interchange to London, the East Midlands and Sheffield.
  • At Peterborough, there would be an easy interchange to London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland

It could be argued that if there is a need for a Cambridge and Oxford rail link, then Britain’s fastest growing high-technology hub, needs to have a high quality rail link to Birmingham via Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham International.

One overcrowded hourly two-car diesel train is not suitable for this important rail route.

Currently, trains take two hours forty-five minutes between Birmingham and Cambridge, which means with a fifteen minute turnround at either end, twenty-four trains would be needed for the service.

So it is probably not feasible, but I suspect it could be an aspiration for Abellio.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio try to take over the Birmingham and Stansted Airport service from CrossCountry.
  • Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains would double the capacity and be able to use electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Greater Anglia have a few spare Class 755 trains, so is this takeover in their ambitions.
  • Would the service be easier for Abellio to run, than CrossCountry?

This is a service to watch over the next couple of years.

Class 755 Trains In The East Midlands

I also suspect that Class 755 trains could be in Abellio’s plans for the East Midlands. Lincolnshire’s railways are little different to those of East Anglia.

The Bridges At The Southern End Of The Station

A trusted source told me, that one of the problems of electrifying through Leicester station with 25 KVAC overhead wires, is that the bridges at the Southern end of the station are a problem.

The general impression, I got was that the structure under the bridges is so complicated, that there would need to be a massive reconstruction of the railway.

To make matters worse a major sewer is in or under the bridges.

So if this meant that the railway had to be closed for a number of months, is this the reason for only electrifying as far as Market Harborough?

Surely, if the Midland Main Line is only to be partly-electrified, then Leicester would be a better changeover point.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

Leicester station with the two tracks between widely-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.


Leicester station is a station, that suits the ambitions of the City.

But the unimaginative train service as provided by Stagecoach, is very fourth-rate and has left Abellio with a lot of scope to improve the train service throughout the East Midlands.

Stagecoach have only themselves to blame for losing the franchise.




July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome For Extension Of Midland Electrification

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

This is the first paragraph.

Electrification of the Midland Main Line is set to be extended from Kettering North Junction to Market Harborough station.

The project was announced in the House of Commons and has already been called great news by the local MP.

In MML Wires Could Reach Market Harborough, I laid out my thoughts after an article in the June 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same title.

This was my major conclusion.

I think that electrification between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough station will happen.

I actually feel that with the announcement of innovative new rolling stock and electrification methods in the last few months, that electrification of this section could now be easier and that electrification to Leicester might even happen.

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A Potential Leicester To Coventry Rail Link

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Potential Leicester To Coventry Rail lLnk Mulled Over In Updated Leicestershire Transport Vision.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The potential of a Leicester to Coventry rail link has been revived again as one of the key highlights of a new transport masterplan outlined by Leicestershire County Council.

In the council’s revamped Prospectus for Growth handed out to Leicestershire County Council members this week, the document noted that there are currently no direct rail services between Leicester and Coventry, meaning a journey of just 25 miles takes an average of one hour and eight minutes.

The route would use these two lines.

This sounds easy. So what’s wrong with using two trains and changing at Nuneaton station?

  • Driving along the M69 between the two cities will take around 43 minutes.
  • The fastest rail services take 48 minutes, and run hourly.
  • Most other rail services take over an hour and a quarter, with a long wait at Nuneaton station.
  • Leicester and Coventry services serve opposite sides of Nuneaton station.

I suspect regular travellers have got the rail journey sorted, but occasional travellers will always take the car.

This Google Map shows Nuneaton station.


  • The West Coast Main Line going NW-SE through the station.
  • Coventry services terminate in Platform 2, which is on the West side of the station.
  • Birmingham-Leicester services stop on the other side of the station.

The station has lifts, but it wouldn’t be a good one for a fast change of trains.

This Google Map shows the West Coast Main Line to the South of Nuneaton station.

Note how the West Coast Main Line splits into three.

  • The Coventry to Nuneaton Line goes South.
  • The electrified West Coast Main Line goes South-East.
  • The Nuneaton to Leicester breaks away to the East.

It would appear that a train going from Leicester to Coventry would need to cross the West Coast Main Line.

This would be very difficult without a flyover or a tunnel.

It would be even more difficult if the train had to call at Nuneaton station.

But it might be possible for trains between Leicester and Coventry to do the following.

  • Call at Platform 2 in Nuneaton station.
  • All trains would reverse at Nuneaton station.
  • A single-track flyover or dive-under  would link the Eastern track of the Coventry to Nuneaton Line to the Nuneaton to Leicester Line.

It would be a tricky piece of engineering.

The Possible Route

If the train did the same station stops as the current services, it could stop at the following intermediate stations.

  • South Wigston
  • Narborough
  • Hinckley
  • Nuneaton
  • Bermuda Park
  • Bedworth
  • Coventry Arena

The total time would appear to be around fifty minutes, with 28 minutes for Leicester to Nuneaton and 22 minutes from Nuneaton to Coventry.

I think if the route were to be run using a modern 100 mph bi-mode  or diesel train, that saved time at each stop, that a round trip could be done within two hours.

If this were possible then two trains would be needed for an hourly service.

The article talks of extending the services to Nottingham and The Thames Valley.

It would be likely, that a route length would be chosen, that was convenient to timetable.


The plan to run a Leicester to Coventry service looks feasible.







February 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

MML Wires Could Reach Market Harborough

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the June 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

It appears that Network Rail have a problem.

So Network Rail are now looking for a twelve mile long extension lead.

A Network Rail spokesman, says they are looking at various options, including an underground cable or extending the Overhead Line Equipment.

Extending The Electrification To Market Harborough

There must be a scenario, where extending the electrification as far as Market Harborough, is a feasible and cost-effective engineering solution.

Consider, the MML between Market Harborough station and Glendon Junction, where the Corby Branch Line joins.

  • The distance is less than twelve miles.
  • There are no stations, which can be a pain to electrify.
  • The track through Market Harborough station is being re-aligned, so the station should be easy to electrify.
  • Glendon Junction is the only junction.
  • The electrification will reach as far as Glendon Junction from St. Pancras.
  • The route is is a double-track railway, which appears to be over fairly level terrain.
  • There appears to be wide margins on either side of the railway.
  • There are about half-a-dozen bridges over the railway, some of which could have been fairly recently built or rebuilt.

I doubt, it would be one of the most difficult of electrification projects.

I also suspect, that after their electrification fiascoes of the last few years, Network Rail might have learned enough to do this at an affordable cost.

For example, if the bridges are a problem, they might be able to use the technique I described in Novel Solution Cuts Cardiff Bridge Wiring Cost.

East Midlands Trains Services To And From London

If you look at the current long distance service of East Midlands Trains, there are the following four services between St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield stations.

  • Nottingham (stopping) – Stops at Luton Airport Parkway, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and Beeston.
  • Sheffield (semi-fast) – Stops at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield
  • Nottingham (fast) – Stops at Market Harborough, Leicester and East Midlands Parkway
  • Sheffield (fast) – Stops at Leicester, Derby and Chesterfield.


  1. Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Psrkway, Derby, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield stations, all get at least two trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  2. Include the Corby service and Bedford, Wellingborough and Kettering have two tph to and from London.
  3. All trains stop at Leicester station, which gives the city four tph to and from London.
  4. Market Harborough to Leicester is only sixteen miles.

Bi-Mode Trains

From 2021, it is expected that these services will be run by 125 mph bi-mode trains.

So how will electrification help these bi-mode trains?

Class 802 Trains

Suppose the services were to be run by a Class 802 train, which can do at least 125 mph using electric power.

An article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics.

This is said.

The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel.

The article was written a year ago, so this figure may be higher now!

So a Hitachi bi-mode will be able to go to the end of the electrification at either Glendon Junction or Market Harborough, as fast as the track allows and then at 110 mph on diesel.

Currently, services between St. Pancras and London take around seventy to eighty minutes.

What difference would the planned electrification to Glendon Junction make to this time?


  • Electrification to Glendon Junction or Market Harborough station could save more time, through faster running.
  • Electrification to Market Harborough would mean only sixteen miles to Leicester would be on diesel.
  • Electrification at Market Harborough station would cut time for those services stopping at the station.
  • Track improvement could allow more 125 mph running using electric power.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling might allow sections of even faster running under electric power.
  • Modern trains should save time at stations.

I’m certain that the right combination of improvements to track, stations and trains, will mean all services between St. Pancras and Leicester would be around an hour with Class 802 trains.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Aventra Bi-Mode

Bmbardier have announced a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra, which I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

I said this about the train.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.

This train with its faster speed on diesel would certainly achieve a time between St. Pancras and Leicester of under an hour.

I also think that this time will be achieved, whether or not, the wires are extended to Market Harborough.

Improving The Track

Many politicians, union leaders and environmentalists, see electrification as the main answer to better train services.

But before you can electrify a route, the track must be in a state, so that trains can run at a high speed, with long gentle curves and as few junctions as possible.

In the Wikipedia entry for Market Harborough station, there is a section called Future. This is said.

Market Harborough station is located on a large curve on the Midland Main Line, as a result of this line speeds through the station have always been relatively slow, at around 60 mph (100 km/h). The track layout is set to change significantly over the next couple of years as Network Rail engineers set about straightening the line, as part of their overall plan to increase overall line speeds.

How many other sections between Glendon Junction and Leicester could benefit from this type of improvement?

Should Market Harborough To Leicester Be Electrified?

As Market Harborough and Leicester stations are only about sixteen miles apart, surely it would be sensible to electrify this section, if Glendon Junction to Market Harborough is electrified?

I have flown my helicopter from Market Harborough to Leicester and the whole route has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • Fairly level
  • Wide margins.
  • Market Harborough is the only station.
  • There are junctions South of Leicester.

It would be fairly easy to electrify, but for one thing.

Although, there are only half-a-dozen bridges South of Market Harborough, it would appear there to be up to twenty bridges on the Northern section, some of which look like they would need serious work to get the wires underneath.

I have a feeling that electrifying between Market Harborough and Leicester would cause massive disruption to road traffic, if some bridges needed to be demolished and rebuilt.

A bi-mode travelling at upwards of 110 mph would probably achieve the same times on this section, without the disruption of installing the electrification.

Could Discontinuous Electrification Be Used Between Market Harborough And Leicester?

This is an additional section, that has been added after the announcement of March 5th 2019, that stated that the Midland Main Line would be electrified as far as Market Harborough.

Discontinuous electrification is to be used on the South Wales Metro and the difficult section, South of Leicester, which has lots of road bridges, might be a section, where the technique could be used to advantage.


I think that electrification between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough station will happen.

  • The section wouldn’t be the most difficult to electrify.
  • As there needs to be an electrical connection between Market Harborough and Glendon Junction, electrification of that section of the railway, might be a cost-effective solution to provide the connection.
  • Electrification of Market Harborough station would cut the time to make a call at the station.
  • It would offer enough time reduction on the Midland Main Line, that to give Leicester a four tph service to and from St. Pancras, with a journey time of under an hour, using existing train designs.

However, electrifying from Market Harborough to Leicester would be more difficult and I can’t see it offering any substantial benefits over a modern bi-mode train.




May 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leicester City Centre

This Google Map shows the relationship between Leicester station and the City Centre.

Leicester Station And The City Centre

Leicester Station And The City Centre

The station is in the South-East corner and the big High Cross Shopping Centre and the cathedral are in the North-West corner.

Leicester City’s stadium is off the map to the South-West.

I could just about walk it to the Shopping Centre from the station, but it was at the limit of my range with the faciitis in my right foot.

I took these pictures as I walked between the station and the centre.

If there was a city, that needs a people mover of some sort between the two locations, it is Leicester.

All European cities would run a tram and with the latest technological developments, the tram would now be battery powered as in Seville and soon to be seen in Birmingham. On such a short distance, it doesn’t even have to have rails, but could be a rubber-tyred, double-ended articulated bus. I once saw a concept like this is in a Wrightbus presentation.

I made one big mistake on my visit to Leicester.

I was intending to go to the cathedral and have some lunch, which I did in Carluccio’s in the High Cross Shopping Centre.

As I was hungry, I had the lunch first and found that the shopping centre has been designed, so you have to go back through it to get anywhere.

As I didn’t want to buy anything except lunch, that would have been a pointless exercise.

So after wasting twenty minutes walking in the wrong way, I was running too late to visit the cathedral.

So on your visit to Leicester visit the cathedral first and if you’re in a hurry and want something to eat afterwards, don’t go in the shopping centre.

A properly-designed people mover going from the station to the pedestriansed central are and on to the cathedral would not only solve my problem, but it would surely attract a lot more visitors to the city to visit the cathedral and Kind Richard.

The one thing that a people-mover in Leicester, doesn’t have to be, is a fully-fledged tram with overhead wires. That is so nineteenth century for short routes in city centres.

Get it right in Leicester and I can think of several other towns and cities, that could use such a system.



May 5, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Leicester Station

I took these pictures as I passed through Leicester station.

It has a just slightly less than magnificent façade, but the problems are more with the tracks and layout of the platforms.

This Google Map shows the station from above.

Leicester Station

Leicester Station

There are various plans for the future of Leicester station.

I will now speculate.

My train back from Leicester didn’t stop at all and took six minutes over the hour.

The biggest problem on the journey was that it was the second train into the platform at St. Pancras station and I had to walk miles to get off the platform and then the adjacent escalators were set to up. The more I use St. Pancras, the more I realise what a disaster for passengers it is.

Nearly a billion pounds was spent to create se by A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station. Everybody concerned with the design and rebuilding of the station, should be sent to put a railway on St. Helena.

But that has nothing to do with Leicester, which has a station that generally works well.

I believe that electrification will transform journeys between London and Leicester.

Bombardier have stated that their new Aventra trains will be 125 mph high-speed trains, that will also handle commuters and could have on-board energy storage. I wrote about that in A High Speed Train With An IPEMU-Capability.

These trains could do the following.

  • Go between Leicester and London in an hour.
  • They might even be able to do this with a single stop at Bedford for Thameslink, so commuters could avoid St. Pancras.
  • Probably be eight, ten, or even twelve cars long, so that they fit the inadequate platforms at St. Pancras better.
  • They would have a modern interior, that satisfied the needs of those on business or leisure journeys and regular commuters.

But as the trains could be IPEMUs with an on-board energy storage capability, Leicester station might not be electrified and the trains would use batteries for stopping and restarting in the station. Think of the disruption and construction costs that would save. The freight loop down the East side of the station could be electrified, so that electric locomotives could pull freight trains through the station.

The April 2016 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Leicester Remodelling Recommended For CP6. This is mentioned.

  • Grade separation at Wigston North Junction, where services to Nuneaton branch off South of Leicester.
  • Improvements at Syston Junction, where services to Peterborough branch off North of Leicester.
  • Four tracking between the junctions.
  • New platforms at Leicester station.
  • Better separation of services.
  • A second platform at Syston station.

Cost is given as up to a billion pounds.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the rail lines through Leicester.

Leicester Lines

Leicester Lines

Cost could be saved by not electrifying between the two junctions if IPEMUs were to be used on the Midland Main Line.

Intriguingly though, as it is unlikely that the Birmingham to Peterborough Line will be electrified in the near future, a short length of electrification through Leicester would enable the cross-country route from Birmingham to Peterborough and on to Stansted Airport to be run using the same trains with an IPEMU capability, that could be working the Midland Main Line.

Leicester also needs better connection between the city centre and the station.

I think it needs some form of battery tram as in Seville, shuttling down Granby Street.

I say more about this in Leicester City Centre.




May 4, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment