The Anonymous Widower

Fed Up Council Threatens Injunction Against Network Rail Over Closure Of Milton Keynes Railway Crossing

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Milton Keynes Citizen.

This looks like the ultimate level crossing argument between a council and Network Rail.

In some ways it’s all a bit ironic, as Network Rail’s headquarters is in Milton Keynes.

This Google Map shows the disputed crossing in Woburn Sands.


  1. The railway is the Marston Vale Line.
  2. Woburn Sands station and a level crossing is at the Western edge of the map.
  3. Swallowfield Lower School is at the Eastern edge of the map.
  4. Cranfield Road runs along the Northern side of the railway.

The row is all about the closure of the foot crossing, that links Cranfield Road and the school.

I live on a road to a primary school. At school times, there is heavy traffic on the pavement, with a lot of younger children in buggies and others with scooters.

  • A lot of the younger children are probably not going to school, but are too young to be left at home, by themselves.
  • I also see a couple of children in wheel-chairs.

I suspect the traffic to Swallowfield Lower school will be similar.

  • A bridge over the railway with steps would not be an adequate solution.
  • A bridge with lifts would be expensive.
  • A bridge with ramps would probably be difficult to fit in the restricted site.
  • A shallow subway with a ramp either side would probably be the only acceptable and affordable solution.

This picture shows such a subway at Enfield Lock station.

Could one like this, be dug under the railway at Woburn Sands?

November 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge

The route that has been chosen by East West Railway is Route E.

Route E is described in Wikipedia as follows.

Route E involves running from the existing Bedford station heading north then running to Tempsford where a new station would be built then (bypassing Sandy) the route heads east to Cambourne where a new station would be built. The route then joins an existing line northbound to Cambridge.

These maps show the route between Bedford and Cambridge stations in sections.

Bedford And Tempsford

This map shows the Western section between Bedford and Tempsford.


  1. Kempston Hardwick and Bedford St. Johns are existing stations on the existing Marston Vale Line, which could substantially be the route of the East West Railway between Bedford and stations to the West like Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
  2. Bedford station is on the Midland Main Line.
  3. Wixams station is a proposed station on the Midland Main Line, which also might be served by the East West Railway.
  4. Biggleswade, Sandy and St. Neots stations are on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

I’ll now take a quick look at the route through Bedford and the proposed Wixams station.

Bedford station is also a served by the following train services.

  • It is a terminus for Marston Vale Line services to and from Bletchley station.
  • It is a terminus for Thameslink services to and from London St. Pancras International station and the South as far as Brighton.
  • East Midlands Railway services between London St. Pancras International station and the East Midlands and Sheffield call at the station.

There would certainly be massive advantages in developing Bedford as a major interchange between the East West Railway and the Midland Main Line.

This Google Map shows the Midland Main Line through Bedford.


  1. Bedford station is at the bottom of the map towards the East.
  2. The village of Clapham is towards the top of the map.

What I find interesting, is that, to the East of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Clapham appears to be mainly open farmland.

Is there sufficient space to build a flying junction, so that trains could go between Bedford and Cambridge in a smooth manner? From a quick look at this map, it appears to me that this would be possible.

It might even be possible to build a full triangular junction, North of Bedford, so that trains could go between the East and the Northbound Midland Main Line.

It looks to me to be a very important junction, that gives lots of possibilities for new passenger and freight services.

  • Passenger trains between Cambridge and Sheffield via Leicester and Derby.
  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • Could the route be used for stone trains between the Peak District and the massive building developments in the City of London?

This ideas would be for starters!

This Google Map shows the area South of Bedford towards the Wixams development.


  1. The large new village of Wixams is shown by the red arrow.
  2. Kempston Hardwick station can be picked out to the West of Wixams, close to the bottom of the map.
  3. The Midland Main Line can be picked out running South between Wixams and Kempston Hardwick.

The area looks like it is ripe for housing and commercial development between all the water.

I can envisage the East West Railway and the Midland Main Line doing the following.

  • Sharing tracks through Bedford and a new Wixams station, if that is desired.
  • A flying junction would then allow the two routes to split.
  • The East West Railway would go West to places like Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
  • The Midland Main Line would go South to Luton, London and beyond.

The East West Railway would open up a massive housing development at Wixams with connections to Cambridge, London, Milton Keynes, Oxford and beyond.

It strikes me, that one of the reasons for choosing Route E, is that this is the route, that opens up the Wixams development.

Through Tempsford

This map shows the Western section around Tempsford, where it crosses the ECML.


  1. Biggleswade, Sandy and St. Neots stations are on the ECML.
  2. There might be opportunities to improve the section of the ECML in this area.
  3. The light-coloured East-West band through the new station, is the proposed route of the East West Railway.

This Google Map shows the area North from Sandy.


  1. Sandy station can be seen at the bottom of the map.
  2. Tempsford can be seen about three-quarters of the way up the map.
  3. The ECML runs North-South up the middle of the map.
  4. The former RAF Tempsford can also be seen on the East side of the ECML.
  5. One interesting place on the map is the RSPB at Sandy.

Has the route been chosen to the North of Sandy to avoid the RSPB, who might not be in favour of a new railway?

  • I could envisage an impressive interchange station at Tempsford, if East West Railway decided to build it.
  • The East West Railway and the ECML could cross at right angles.
  • Platforms on both routes could be connected by lifts, escalators and stairs.
  • There looks like there could be space for lots of car parking.

Alternatively, a full junction could be built so that trains could swap between the two routes.

Tempsford And Cambourne

This map shows the central section between Tempsford and Cambourne.


  1. Sandy and St. Neots stations are on the ECML.
  2. The light-coloured East-West band through the new Tempsford and Cambourne stations, is the proposed route of the East West Railway.

This Google Map shows the area between Tempsford and Cambourne.


  1. Tempsford is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Cambourne is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. St. Neots station is in the North-West corner of the map.

It certainly isn’t an area of the country with many important buildings around.

Through Cambourne

This Google Map shows the central section through Cambourne.


  1. The new village of Cambourne by the A428.
  2. The A1198 road going North-South between Huntingdon and Royston.
  3. The village of Great Eversden in the South-East corner of the map.

From looking at the various maps and knowing the area well, I suspect the East West Railway will take the following route.

  • Approach from the West and cross the A1198 to the North of Caxton.
  • Pass South of Cambourne, where a station could be built. The station could be fairly simple, but there is plenty of space, especially if cycling to the train is encouraged.
  • Pass North of Bourn and Bourn Golf and Country Club.
  • Pass North of Great Eversden and leave the map in the South-East corner.

It looks to be a fairly simple section.

Great Eversden And Cambridge

This Google Map shows the area from Great Eversden to the Trumpington Park-and-Ride, which is served by the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.


  1. Great Eversden is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M11 runs diagonally across the Eastern end of the map.
  3. Trumpington is at the Eastern end of the map.
  4. The track bed of the old Varsity Line is clearly visible.

The question has to be asked, if it would be worthwhile rebuilding this section.


  • Part of the trackbed is used for the Ryle Telescope.
  • Part of the trackbed is used for the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
  • The route doesn’t serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Cambridge also has ambitions to extend the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway to Hauxton and create the Cambridge Autonomous Metro, which I wrote about in Consultation On The Cambridge Autonomous Metro.

This map shows the proposed layout of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.


  1. The green section will be in tunnel.
  2. The Trumpington Branch is extended to Hauxton,

This Google Map shows the area to the South West of Cambridge between Hauxton and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.


  1. Addenbrooke’s Hospital is in the North-East corner of this map.
  2. The Trumpington Park-and-Ride is to the East of the M11.
  3. Shelford station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  4. The West Anglia Main Line running past the hospital, splits into two, with one branch going West to Royston and Hitchin and the other going South to Harlow and London.

The two maps taken together weave quite a complicated pattern.

The East West Railway and the Cambridge Autonomous Metro could probably be tweaked so that they could both be created.

  • The East West Railway could take a slightly more Southerly route and pass to the West of Hauxton to join the Royston and Cambridge Line to get to Cambridge South and Cambridge stations.
  • The Cambridge Autonomous Metro would pass over or under the M11 and terminate at a suitable place on the East of Hauxton.

There might even be a solution involving a joint station to the West of the M11






March 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vivarail Units Take Over Marston Vale Services

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

The article contains an informative video of Adrian Shorter talking about the Class 230 train.

Much of the article and the video is information that has already been well reported.

Adrian Shooter does mention that the diesel-electric-battery versions of the Class 230 train for Transport for Wales will incorporate geo-fencing.

This would mean that in sensitive areas, the diesel engines would be cut out and only  battery power would be used.

The process would be controlled automatically using the train’s position from GPS.

This technique has been used on hybrid buses to lower emissions and noise levels in sensitive areas.


May 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train

When I heard that London North Western Railway were running a new Class 230 train between Bedford and Bletchley, I just had to go.

These are my thoughts.

Comparison With D78 Stock

I regularly used the D78 Stock from their introduction in 1980 until their retirement in 2017. In Raw Material For A New Train, I showed a few pictures of one of the last D78 Stock trains to be in service.

The picture with the orange doors shows a Class 378 train, at the same platform as the D78 train for comparison.

The trains have certainly undergone changes with new wndows and a new interior, but some components like the  longitudinal seats, appear to have just been refurbished.

But the Class 230 train has retained the well-lit feel of the D78 Stock.

An Interior For All Passengers

Passengers come in many different types and the interior has been well-designed to cope all types of passengers who might use the train.

As it also takes clues from other trains, that work on high-capacity routes, I feel it would cope well if on perhaps a weekend, there was some form of event or festival.

Longitudinal Seating

Vivarail have retained some of the old London Underground longitudinal seating, which must be unique in the UK outside the London Underground/Overground and the Glasgow Subway.

But it does seem to fit in more seats.

Seat Comfort

To me, seat comfort is all important, as I have a posterior that objects to certain seats, like those on Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

But these seats were fine, despite the fact they looked like the dreaded Thameslink seats. But then perhaps the padding is different!


LNWR have chosen to fit several tables in these trains, which were big enough to lay out a tabloid-sized newspaper.

Wi-Fi, Power And USB Points

Wi-fi is fitted to this train and there were numerous power and USB points. The latter were in the armrests of the longitudinal seats, which in my view, is the obvious, if not essential place. Other train manufacturers please note!

An Unfussy, Surprisingly Quiet And Workmanlike Ride

Passengers don’t generally rave about the quality of the ride in Underground trains and I would generally describe the ride of the average Underground train as workmanlike.

But then I’ve been riding Underground trains for at least sixty-five years and a modern S7 Stock train, is so much better than the 1938 Stock trains I can remember.

The ride of the Class 230 train is unfussy, surprisingly quiet and it still has that workmanlike quality of forty-year-old Underground trains.

Without doubt though, the ride and especially the noise is much better than the Alstom Coradia iLint, that I wrote about in My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint.

Engine Noise

The two diesel engines beneath our feet, were not any more noticeable, than the engine on one of London’s Routemaster buses.

I would expect that High quality noise suppression techniques have been used.

An Air Of Quality

The finish of the train appeared to have a good quality

Operating Speed

Using the |SpeedView app on my phone, the train seemed to trundle on happily at around 45-50 mph.

Passenger Reaction

The passengers seemed to be fairly pleased with their new train, and several said it was better than the single car Class 153 train.

A Senior Manager from LNWR, also seemed pleased with his new train.


It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 5 Comments

Did Adrian Shooter Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?

This article with a video in the Scotsman is entitled Video: Battery Trains On Track To Cut Emissions and gives a lot of information about the Class 230 train. This is a paragraph.

The train is restricted to a 25mph speed on this week’s test trips, but Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter says it can sustain speeds of “60 mph for 40 miles” when new batteries become available next year.

Moreover, the batteries need just four minutes to recharge.

So what does this mean for the various routes?

Borderlands Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Borderlands Line.

The line runs between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations is around twenty-seven miles and takes an hour. There is a generous turnround time at both ends in the current schedule.

This Google Map shows the layout of the two-platform station at Bidston.

This picture shows the red-roofed shed in the middle of the island platform, with the tracks on either side.

Would it be sensible to add a dedicated bay platform at Bidston for charging the battery trains?

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Wrexham Central and then do the following.

  • Run to Bidston on battery power.
  • Turnround at Bidston, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Run back to Wrexham Central on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the thirteen intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long runs the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Chester To Crewe Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Chester to Crewe Line.

It runs between Chester and Crewe stations, is around twenty miles long and services take about twenty minutes.

As there are no stations between Chester and Crewe and the maximum speed of the Class 230 train is sixty mph, it looks like the train will be almost at maximum speed  along this route.

So will the four diesel engines be working hard?

When these trains were built in the 1980s, I doubt that anybody thought they’d be running services on a section of the North Wales Coast Line.

Conwy Valley Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Conwy Valley Line.

It runs between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations, is around thirty miles long and services take eighty minutes to ascend and seventy to come down.

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Llandudno and then do the following.

  • Ascend to Blaenau Ffestiniog on battery power, with help from the diesel engines.
  • Turnround at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Descend to Llandudno on battery power, with help from gravity.
  • The descent would be controlled by regenerative braking.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the eleven intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long ascent the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Greenford Branch

What do you do with a problem like the Greenford Branch?

In Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?, I looked at the possibility of using the proposed Class 165 HyDrive trains to provide a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Greenford Branch.

This was my conclusion.

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

That well-designed battery-train has arrived in the shape of the Class 230 train.

Island Line

It appears likely, that Class 230 trains will be ordered for the Island Line.

It runs between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin stations, is under nine miles long and a typical round trip is as follows.

  • Shanklin to Ryde Pier Head – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Ryde Pier Head – 20 minutes
  • Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Shanklin – 5 minutes

The Island Line has an operating speed of just 45 mph.

Adding all that up, I would estimate that a train doing a round trip would do under twenty miles at a maximum speed of 45 mph.

Adrian Shooter said that the trains will be able to store 2,400 miles² /hour, whereas the Island Line would use only 900 miles² /hour in a round trip. They may be weird units, you won’t find in any text book, but I want to prove if something is possible or not.

It looks like it most definitely is possible for a battery-powered Class 230 train to perform a round trip on one charge of of the batteries.

Suppose though, the line was reinstated to Ventnor station, as a  line without electrification. A quick estimate gives the round-trip as thirty miles, which would need  1350 miles² /hour.

There could even be a second charging station at Ventnor.

Could we see a future Island Line like this?

  • No electrification.
  • Extension to a new Ventnor station.
  • A passing loop at Brading station.
  • Battery trains.
  • Relaid track for very gentle curves and high efficiency.
  • Charging stations at Ryde Pier Head and Ventnor stations.

I suspect with some faster running, where it is possible and perhaps one diesel power pack per train, three-car Class 230 trains could run a two tph service.

This type of service would not be unique for long, as other places would quickly copy.

Marston Vale Line

West Midlands Trains have ordered Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line.

It runs between Bedford and Bletchley stations, is around twenty-four miles long and services appear to take about forty-five minutes, with a turn-round time of well over four minutes.

So it would seem that each leg of a return journey would be less than forty miles and there would be sufficient time for a full four-minute charge at either end.

The regenerative braking would be useful in handling the eleven stops.


It isn’t one cat!

It’s a whole destruction, glorying or nuisance of felines!




October 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Brand New Vivarail Train Arrives At Bletchley

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

The first Class 230 train has now been delivered to its new home at Bletchley depot for service on the Marston Vale Line.

This unlikely project finally seems to be closing in on a successful conclusion.

But then never underestimate the power of engineering!

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 12 Comments

MK-Bedford New Line Mooted

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

This is the first paragraph.

A new railway between Milton Keynes and Bedford for the East West Rail project has been suggested as a way of avoiding problems with the Marston Vale Line, where the hourly stopping service and numerous level crossings limit capacity for through regional trains.

Another aim is that the next phase of the project should be completed by the end 2022, which is between a one and two years earlier than the existing target.The Chairman of the East West Rail Company, then said he’d like the the railway to open in 2027.

The article says a new route will be expensive, but innovative ways of doing things could help.

Consider these points about the Marston Vale Line

  • The stations need development.
  • There are at least thirteen level crossings.
  • New houses are being built near some stations.
  • The operating speed  is just 50 mph.
  • Finding a new route at Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise, Ridgmont and Lidlington could be difficult.
  • The railway passes under the M1 and the A421, so moving these crossing points could be difficult.

It’s all a complicated design problem.

East West Rail could borrow a trick from the Heathrow Southern Railway, which is planned to run alongside the M25 to get to Heathrow. The new railway could be routed alongside the A421 in the Bedford area.

This Google Map shows the A421 to the South of Bedford.


  • The Marston Vale Line goes across the North West corner of the map.
  • The Midland Main Line goes across the map in a North-South direction.
  • The roundabout at the North East connects the A421 to the A6.
  • The building by the roundabout is a hotel.

If the East West Rail Link was routed alongside the by-pass a station could be built where the two lines cross.

  • The Midland Main Line and Thameslink would be linked to the East West Rail Link.
  • Passengers for Bedford would be able to use the frequent Thameslink service to get to the town.
  • A big Park-and-Ride could be built.
  • Marston Vale Line services would take the same route as they do now, via Bedford St. Johns station.

If it was desired, chords could be built to enable services on the East West Rail Link to serve Bedford with a reverse in Bedford station.

Oxford has a Parkway station, Milton Keynes has a Milton Keynes South station at Bletchley, Cambridge will probably have a Cambridge South station, so why shouldn’t Bedford have a Bedford South station?

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

D-Train Order For Marston Vale Confirmed

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

It gives a few more details on the order from West Midlands Trains for three Class 230 trains to provide the service on the Marston Vale Line.

  • The trains will be in operation in December 2018
  • Two trains will operate the daily service.
  • The trains will be diesel-powered.

When the trains come into operation, extra early morning and late-night services will be added from Monday to Saturday.

Battery Prototype

The article also gives more details of the battery prototype.

  • The train has four battery rafts, each with a capacity of 106 kWh
  • Range is up to fifty miles with a ten minute charge at each end of the journey.
  • Range will increase as battery technology improves.
  • The train is charged using a patented automatic charging point.
  • The batteries will have a seven-year lifespan, backed by a full warranty.
  • Battery rafts would appear to be interchangeable with the diesel generators.
  • Hydrogen power will be used within the next few years.

The specification seems comprehensive and it would appear there is a high degree of innovative automation and well-thought-out electrical engineering.

Train Energy Consumption

The train has the following characteristics.

  • Two cars
  • 424 kWh of battery capacity.
  • 50 mile range

This gives a consumption 4.24 kWh/per car/per mile.

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 probably not much more taxing than the Marston Vale Line.

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

I am surprised that the Class 230 train lies in the 3-5 kWh range, but then I’m not sure of the weights of the two trains.

I estimate two-car units to weigh as follows.

  • Class 230 train plus batteries – Around 50 tonnes.
  • Electrostar – Around 90 tonnes
  • Aventra – Around 80 tonnes

I shall get some better figures, when I actually see the trains, as the weight is on the side.

The Pop-Up Train

The article talks of the concept of a low-cost pop-up train as a solution for a regional or commuter train.

Export To America?

This pop-up train could be designed to be used to demonstrate rail services in America.

Henry Posner, who is promoting the train in America is quoted as saying cities could use the train to test possible services with passengers on board ‘for less than the cost of a consultant’s study into a possible service’.

These demonstrations will be on freight lines, where for reasons of safety, the passengers trains would run during the day and freight trains at night.

Is America ready for an invasion of remanufactured forty-year-old London Underground D78 Stock trains?



March 22, 2018 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail To Supply Three D-Trains To West Midlands Trains

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

This order has been a long time coming and the three Class 230 trains will be used by West Midlands Trains on the Marston Vale Line, from December 2018.

Whether they will be diesel or battery versions of the Class 230 trains is not stated.

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Enlightening Facts On Battery Trains

This article In Rail Magazine is entitled Vivarail Targets Summer Running For New Battery Unit.

The article says some enlightening things about the battery version of the Class 230 train.

  • Four batteries are provided on the two-car train.
  • The total battery capacity is 106 kWh. (Note: It has since been disclosed that the total battery capacity is 424 kWh!)
  • An eight minute recharge is needed at the end of each run.
  • A ten minute recharge gives a range of fifty miles.

Nothing is said of the speed and acceleration of the train on battery power.

How would these figures fit Vivarail’s order for three trains from West Midlands Trains to serve the Marston Vale Line?

  • The route is approximately twenty-five miles long.
  • Trains currently take forty-three minutes with ten stops.
  • Overhead electrification could be available at both ends of the line, as both Bedford and Bletchley station are on 25 KVAC  main lines.

Do the sums!

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment