The Anonymous Widower

London Overground: Design Work For West London Orbital Route Begins

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

This is the sub-heading.

Plans for a new London Overground link in west London are progressing, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

These paragraphs outline what will happen.

Engineering consultants who worked on the Elizabeth line have been chosen for the West London Orbital service.

“This engineering design will help determine the cost of delivering the scheme, which is currently unfunded,” Transport for London (TfL) said.

It hopes the scheme, which would connect Hounslow with Hendon and West Hampstead, could start next decade.

My feeling, is that they should get on with it.

  • There would be no major construction like tunnels.
  • Four stations would need to be built.
  • I doubt there will be any demolition.
  • It wouldn’t need more electrification, as the route is electrified at both ends and battery-electric trains could be used.
  • It would create more connections to Old Oak Common for High Speed Two.

But if it does for North West London, what the Overground has done for North and East London, it will be very much worth it.

These are a few thoughts and observations.

The Route

This is a schematic of the route from the BBC article.


  1. The new stations are Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane and Lionel Road.
  2. Acton Central, Brentford, South Acton, Syon Lane and West Hampstead Thameslink are step-free and Isleworth is on the way.
  3. The fully step-free Brent Cross West station will open soon.
  4. Lionel Road station will serve the new Brentford stadium.
  5. Old Oak Common Lane will serve High Speed Two, the Elizabeth Line and the North London Line.

They look to be a useful set of stations.

Kew Bridge Station

There’s been a lot of development at Kew Bridge station, since I was last there.

There are lots of flats and Brentford’s new stadium.

I suspect all the stations between Kew Bridge and Hounslow will see similar levels of development.

Electrification Issues On The Dudding Hill Line

The Dudding Hill Line forms the Northern section of the route between the Midland Main Line and the North London Line at Acton Wells Junction.

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the junction between the Dudding Hill and Midland Main Lines.


  1. The Midland Main Line is shown in red as it is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line is shown in black, as it isn’t electrified.

This second map from OpenRailwayMap shows the junction between the Dudding Hill and North London Lines at Acton Wells junction.


  1. As before red tracks are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires and black tracks have no electrification.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line is the black track running North-South at the West of the map.
  3. Acton Wells junction, where the Dudding Hill and North London Lines join is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. The North London Line is shown in red running across the North-West corner of the map.
  5. The Great Western Main Line is shown in red running across the South-East corner of the map.
  6. High Speed Two will run East-West across the map and is shown dotted in red.
  7. The red lines in the middle of the map is the Elizabeth Line depot.

With all the 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends of the Dudding Hill Line, it would appear, that if this section is ever electrified, it will be electrified with this form of electrification.

There may be a problem, in that there are three or four bridges over the line.

Electrification Issues At Kew

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the triangular junction by Kew Bridge station.


  1. As before black tracks have no electrification.
  2. Mauve tracks are electrified with 750 VDC  third-rail electrification.
  3. Kew Bridge station is indicated by the blue arrow at the Eastern point of the junction.
  4. Trains to Hounslow will arrive in the North-East corner of the map and go diagonally across the map to leave in the South-West point of the junction.
  5. Trains to Kew Bridge will arrive in the North-East corner of the map and take the Eastern chord of the junction to a new platform in Kew Bridge station.

Brentford’s new stadium and a lot of housing are in the middle of the junction.

It would seem to be obvious to electrify the triangular junction using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

But not to the ORR it isn’t, as they won’t allow any new third-rail electrification to be installed on Health and Safety grounds.

Project Management Issues

I believe this could be one of those projects, where by careful selection of the order of the sub-projects, time and money can be saved and passengers will see benefits earlier.

For example.

  • Early delivery of Old Oak Common Lane station would also connect the North London Line to High Speed Two and the Elizabeth Line.
  • Early delivery of step-free access at Kew Bridge station would help passengers going to the new Brentford stadium.

There may be other projects, that need an early delivery.

The Feltham And Wokingham Resignalling Programme

The Feltham And Wokingham Resignalling Programme  is currently underway and there are pairs of new and old signals everywhere between Kew Bridge and Feltham and also between Feltham and Richmond.

These are digital signals and according to Network Rail, they will increase the capacity, which must surely allow the extra trains between Kew Bridge and Hounslow stations.

This signalling project finishes in mid-2024, so I suspect by then the Southern part of the West London Orbital Railway will not have any problems with interaction with other services.

The Feltham And Wokingham Resignalling Programme could be considered an important enabling sub-project of the West London Orbital Railway, that is being performed early.

Richmond Station

As I came through Richmond station, there was an Overground train in Platform 3 and I noticed that Platforms 3 to 5 were allocated to the Overground.

Has the new signalling given Network Rail and train operators more flexibility and extra capacity at Richm0nd?

Currently, the London Overground runs four trains per hour (tph)  between Stratford and Richmond.

The increased flexibility may allow the following.

  • An increase in frequency of trains to Stratford.
  • An increase in frequency of District Line trains, if Ealing Broadway station swaps from being a District to a Piccadilly Line terminus, as I wrote about in Extending The Elizabeth Line – Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway.
  • Could Richmond also act as a terminal of the West London Orbital Railway during construction and engineering works?

Another benefit that could be arranged is to run the current four tph London Overground services into Platform 3.

These pictures show a Waterloo-bound South Western Railway train in Platform 2 and a Stratford-bound London Overground train in Platform 3.

As there are 8 tph between Richmond and Waterloo via Clapham Junction, this could be quite a useful cross-platform interchange for passengers going from say Staines or Windsor to Hampstead.



  • The three most likely Northern termini are Brent Cross West, Hendon and West Hampstead Thameslink.
  • There could be other terminals on the North London Line or the Gospel Oak and Barking Line.
  • All possible Northern terminals have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The two most likely Southern terminals are Hounslow and Kew Bridge.
  • There may be other possible Southern terminals like Twickenham or Richmond.
  • All possible Southern terminals have 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The sections without electrification of the route is less than twelve miles.
  • The ORR won’t allow any new third-rail electrification.

It looks like the trains will need to be dual-voltage with a battery capability.

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over twelve years ago, so I suspect Bombardier or Alstom have refined the concept.

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

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

So for a four-car running for twelve miles, the train would need a battery capacity of between 144 and 240 kWh.

These are not large batteries.

I suspect that the best trains for the route, will be dual-voltage Class 710 trains.

  • The Class 710/2 variant used on the Gospel Oak and Barking Line is dual-voltage.
  • London Overground has 54 Class 710 trains.
  • I am certain, that the batteries needed can be fitted to the trains.
  • Aventras are still in production in Derby.

A test battery-electric version could probably be created and tested on the short Romford and Upminster Line.

There may be other places in London and the rest of the UK, where a four-car battery-electric Aventra would be the ideal train.




April 20, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

TfL Considers Replacing Over Half Of London Overground Trains Within The Next 4 Years

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

This is the sub-heading.

The trains were specially built for the dimensions of the Overground network

This paragraph outlines, why the trains may be replaced.

The 57 Class 378 ‘Capitalstar’ trains which provide the majority of services on London Overground could disappear as soon as June 2027, as Transport for London (TfL) officials decide what to do with them as their leases expire. The five carriage walkthrough trains have helped revolutionise the Overground network, being built to special dimensions to fit the unique profile of the suburban routes they run on – notably the East London line, where trains use the narrow single-bore Thames Tunnels.


  1. The Class 378 trains, which I use regularly, still seem to be performing well!
  2. They could do with a lick of paint and a tidying up in places.
  3. Would it be too much to ask for power sockets and wi-fi?
  4. The other London Overground trains, the Class 710 trains can’t run through the Thames Tunnel on the East London Line, as they have no means to evacuate passengers in the tunnel in an emergency.
  5. More Class 378 trains are needed for the East London Line to increase services, but these can be obtained by transferring trains from the North London Line and replacing those with new Class 710 trains.

I live near the two Dalston stations on the London Overground and the thing we need most is more capacity.

I have some thoughts on London Overground’s future trains.

Increased Services On The Current Network

Plans exist to increase the frequency on various London Overground services and this graphic sums up what was planned a few years ago.

Note the extra two trains per hour (tph) between the following stations.

  1. Clapham Junction and Stratford
  2. Dalston Junction and Crystal Palace
  3. Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction
  4. Enfield Town and Liverpool St. via Seven Sisters

I think only Route 1 services have been increased.

I know signalling updates are holding up  the extra trains on the East London Line, but are more trains needed to fully implement the extra services?

  • Routes 2 and 3 services will need Class 378 trains because of the tunnel and these would be transferred from the North London Line.
  • Route 4 would need Class 710 trains, as the service already uses them.

So there may be a need for more Class 710 trains.

West London Orbital Railway

The graphic doesn’t mention the West London Orbital Railway.

  • There would be two routes between West Hampstead and Hounslow and Hendon and Kew Bridge using the Dudding Hill Line.
  • The tracks already exist.
  • Some new platforms and stations would be needed.
  • The route would probably need improved signalling.
  • Four tph on both routes would probably be possible.
  • The West London Orbital Railway would connect to the Great Western Railway, the North London and Elizabeth Lines and High Speed Two at Old Oak Common station.

I believe it could be run by battery-electric versions of either the Class 378 or Class 710 trains. This would avoid electrification.

As some commentators have suggested that the West London Orbital Railway and the Gospel Oak and Barking Line would be connected, I would expect that new battery-electric Class 710 trains would be used.

Adding On-board Energy Storage To The Class 378 Trains

In Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, I asked whether it would be worthwhile.

I finished with these two sentences.

I have no idea how much electricity would be saved by regenerative braking on the London Overground, but various applications of regenerative braking technology talk of electricity savings of between ten and twenty percent.

I think it is only a matter of time before the technology is proven to be sufficiently reliable and the numbers add up correctly for the Class 378 trains to be fitted with on-board energy storage.

What would be the advantages from fitting on-board energy storage?

  • There would be the savings of electricity by the use of regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Trains could be rescued from the Thames Tunnel, if there was a power failure.
  • Hotel power would be maintained, if there was a power failure.
  • Trains can be moved in depots and sidings without power.
  • Trains would be able to move in the event of cable theft.
  • Short route extensions might be possible.
  • Could battery power be used to serve Euston during the rebuilding process for High Speed Two?
  • Do Network Rail want to remove third-rail electrification from Euston station for safety or cost reasons?

There could be a saving in train operating costs.

We know the trains are coming up for a new lease.

Suppose the leasing company fitted them with new batteries and some other customer-friendly improvements like new seat covers, better displays, litter bins, power sockets and wi-fi.

  • The leasing company would be able to charge more, as they have added value to the trains.
  • TfL would be saving money due to less of an electricity bill.
  • The passenger numbers might increase due to the extra customer-friendly features.
  • Electrification might be removed from places where theft is a problem.
  • Third-rail electrification could be removed from Euston station. It’s only 2.8 miles to South Hampstead station, where third-rail electrification already exists.

Get it right and passengers, TfL, Network Rail and the leasing company would all be winners.






March 4, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

East London Is A Duckers And Divers Paradise

This is the East End Tube Map, which I clipped off the full tube map.


I live just South of the East London Line between Canonbury and Dalston Junction stations.

Today started just after nine, as many others do by braving the nightmare on the buses to take a 141 bus to Moorgate.

  • At Moorgate, I had breakfast as I do regularly in the Leon, by Moorgate station.
  • After breakfast, it was one stop South on the Northern Line to Bank, to see if the new entrance had opened.
  • It was then a trip on the new moving walkway to the Central Line.
  • I took the Central Line to Stratford to do my main shopping at the start of the week, in the large Marks and Spencer in Eastfield, by the station entrance.
  • It was then on to the North London Line to go back home.
  • I didn’t go all the way home on the Overground, but got off the train at Hackney Central and using the new Graham Road entrance, I crossed to get a 38 bus, which would take me home.
  • But two 38s passed as I tried to cross the road and in the end I took a 277 bus to Dalston Junction station.
  • From the Junction, I got a 56 bus home.

I got home about eleven.

At least now, I’ve got food until Thursday!

February 20, 2023 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Entrance At Hackney Central Station – 2nd July 2022

The new entrance at Hackney Central station opened yesterday.


  1. The cafe must be fairly good, as it has two flavours of gluten-free brownies.
  2. I may have a touch of arthritis these days, but stairs like these are fine for me, as there are two right-handed paths.
  3. There is a second set of stairs down from the footbridge to speed passengers on their way to Hackney Downs station.
  4. There is a light-controlled crossing over Graham Road.
  5. Bus stops in both directions are only about twenty metres from the crossing.
  6. The station buildings appear to have green roofs.
  7. The is plenty of bike storage, but no car parking.
  8. There is no lift, although the design should allow one to be added later, if it is thought one is needed.

I’ve seen bigger budgets produce worse designed station entrances than this one.

My Use Of The Graham Road Entrance At Hackney Central Station

I suspect, I will use the new entrance mainly in one of two ways.

Going West On The North London Line

If I want to go west on the North London Line, the obvious one is to get a bus to Highbury & Islington station from the closest stop to my house and get the train from there.

But that route has got more difficult in recent years.

  • Our South London Mayor in his wisdom cut the 277 bus back to Dalston Junction station.
  • So there is only the 30 bus left and the route uses badly-designed Egyptian-built buses. I’ve nothing against Egyptians, but these buses don’t have the flat floor, that people expect from a bus these days.
  • Since the roundabout was rebuilt, it seems to be a longer and more difficult walk for pedestrians.

So I’d prefer to take another route.

  • Canonbury station is probably the closest station, but it is an uphill walk from my house.
  • Dalston Kingsland station is a possibility, but the steps to the platform aren’t the safest.
  • Dalston Junction station is another possibility, as it is step-free, but it means more changes of mode and train.

Going via the new Graham Road entrance has advantages.

  • From my house, there are frequent 38 buses to the new entrance.
  • The 38 bus stop at Hackney Central is only a few metres from the station entrance.
  • There is a coffee stall in the station entrance.
  • The steps in the entrance are easy for me.

I will try out this route the next time, that I go to the West on the North London Line.

Coming Home From Stratford With Shopping

If I need a big Marks & Spencer or a John Lewis, it is convenient to go to Eastfield at Stratford and come home on the North London Line.

I will usually use the The Canonbury Cross-Over to double-back and get a bus home from Dalston Junction station.

It is an easy route, but sometimes the trains mean a wait of nearly ten minutes at Canonbury station.

The new entrance at Hackney Central gives an alternative route.

  • You would get in the back of the train at Stratford.
  • Alight at Hackney Central.
  • Exit the station through the new entrance.
  • Cross Graham Road on the light-controlled crossing.
  • Walk about twenty metres to the 38 bus stop.
  • Wait for a frequent 38 bus.

Today, I waited just a minute.


The entrance was first mentioned in an article on Ian Visits in October 2019 and I wrote about it in Will Hackney Central Station Get A Second Entrance?.

In May 2021, I wrote £3m Hackney Overground Station Upgrade To Begin In June.

The entrance seems to have gone from a concept to reality in under three years and once the starting pistol was fired, it was built in under a year.

How many parts of the UK rail network could be improved, by small projects like this?


July 2, 2022 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From Moorgate To Imperial Wharf – 30th June 2022

I wanted to see the new entrance at Imperial Wharf station today, so after a full English breakfast on Moorgate, I took the Lizzie Line, Central and West London Lines across London.

I took this route.

  • Lizzie Line – Moorgate to Tottenham Court Road
  • Central Line – Tottenham Court Road To Shepherds Bush
  • West London Line – Shepherds Bush To Imperial Wharf

I took these pictures along the route.


  1. The change at Tottenham Court Road station involves going up to the ticket hall and down again.
  2. The change at Shepherds Bush involves crossing the road between the Central Line and Overground station.
  3. The last few pictures show the new entrance at Imperial Wharf, which is for Northbound trains only.

When Bond Street station opens on the Lizzie Line, it should be easier to change there for the Central Line.

The Plans For A Connection Between The Lizzie And West London Lines?

This map from shows, where the Lizzie and West London Lines cross in the area of Old Oak Common.


  1. The Overground is shown in orange and splits into the North and West London Lines South of Willesden Junction station.
  2. The Lizzie Line is shown in purple and black, as it goes across the map, as at this point it shares tracks with the Great Western Main Line.

This map shows how High Speed Two will change the lines.


  1. Hythe Road station on the West London Line, which will have a walking route to High Speed Two and the Lizzie Line.
  2. Old Oak Common Lane station on the North London Line, which will have a walking route to High Speed Two and the Lizzie Line.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line, which is shown as an orange double-line and could be part of the West London Orbital passing North-South to the West of Old Oak Common Lane station.
  4. The Acton-Northolt Line, which is shown in blue and could give Chiltern Railways extra platforms at Old Oak Common with a walking route to High Speed Two and the Lizzie Line.

Wikipedia says that the status of the two Overground stations according to Transport for London is as follows.

Subject to funding being secured and further public consultation, we would seek permission to build and operate the proposals via a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO). Funding remains a significant constraint in delivering these proposals. We are currently seeking to establish a package of funding that could enable the stations to be delivered by 2026 alongside the new HS2 and Elizabeth line station.

I suspect that with our current South London Mayor, we will see little progress on these connectivity schemes at Old Oak Common station, as with the possible exception of Hythe Road station, there’s little in it for South London.


Hythe Road station would certainly have made my journey easier yesterday.

Hopefully, though, if I do the journey again in the next year or so, Bond Street station will be open on the Lizzie Line and I’ll change to the Central Line there.



June 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Thought On The Prospects For Crossrail

Someone asked the question, in a discussion group, that I visit, if Crossrail will be a success.

I believe that you only have to look at the success of the London Overground to realise that Crossrail will be a success.

When the North London Line reopened as the first route of the London Overground with new Class 378 trains, it used to run four-car trains at a frequency of six trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations.

Now the line runs eight tph on that route and the trains are five cars.

That is a capacity increase of 66% in terms of cars per hour.

And still at times, the trains are full and Transport for London are looking at ways of adding extra trains and/or cars.

Crossrail will have the factors going for it, which helped to make the Overground that success. It is new and has a novelty value, but above all like the Overground, it is built for full-sized people, who could be pushing bikes and buggies and trailing baggage.

Crossrail, also increases options for alternative routes for Londoners , who are World Champions at ducking-and-diving.

Crossrail has also been designed so that the trains can be extended.

If Crossrail has a problem, other than the lateness and budget overrun, it is that it doesn’t connect to the Victoria or Piccadilly Lines.

February 18, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Hackney Central Station New Entrance – 24th December 2021

The new entrance at Hackney Central station is moving on.

Parts of the structure can now be seen behind the hoardings.

This picture shows the new entrance from Graham Road.

And this picture shows the entrance from above.

It does not look like step-free access is provided, but I suspect it could be added later.

Strangely, although Hackney Central station is to the East of where I live on the other side of Dalston Junction, it will be on a route, I might take, when I want to go West on the North London Line. I would just take a 38 bus direct to this entrance and then take a train to Richmond or Clapham Junction station as appropriate.

If Hackney Council put a light-controlled crossing over Graham Road, this will make it easy for me to come home from Stratford.

December 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

An Express Service On The Overground

On Thursday, last week, I was travelling between Highbury & Islington and Willesden Junction stations on the North London Line of the London Overground. From Willesden Junction I intended to get the Bakerloo Line to Paddington for my trip to Okehampton.

There had been a problem and the train was rather full.

The surprise was that after Camden Road station it went non-stop to Willesden Junction.

It got me thinking.

  • The Class 378 train sped along, as does the occasional Class 800 train, that is going to and from Hitachi’s North Pole Depot.
  • It has been proposed to turn back some trains at Camden Road to increase frequencies through East London, which I wrote about in Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?.
  • There is a spare rarely-used bay platform at Willesden Junction station with short-distance step-free access to the two platforms that serve the Watford DC and Bakerloo Lines.
  • I seem to remember that original plans for the North London Line including extending some services to Willesden Junction.

Could an express service be run between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations?

  • It would stop at all stations to the East of Camden Road.
  • It would terminate bay platform at Willesden Junction.
  • It would improve the interchange at Willesden Junction station for many travellers.

I suspect though, it would need improved signalling, which is probably the reason it has never been implemented.



November 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Freight On The East West Main Line

This page on the East West Main Line Partnership web site, describes their ambitions towards freight.

This is said.

The freight and logistics sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Greater use of rail for freight and logistics provides additional resilience for the business community, while also acting on the need to achieve net zero.

Whilst not part of East West Rail, removing the bottlenecks on the Felixstowe to Midlands
corridor remains an immediate strategic priority for three sub-national transport bodies (England’s Economic Heartland, Transport East and Midlands Connect wrote to the Chancellor in this regard in July 2020).

However, the design and operation of the East West Main Line should take into account and contribute to the delivery of the requirements of the national rail freight strategy. In due course Great British Railways will have a statutory duty to consider the needs of rail freight and to take those needs into account in planning the future of the rail network.

It is therefore important that the East West Main Line is designed and delivered with the capability of supporting rail freight services without the need for additional works. In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

I have my thoughts.

Cutting Carbon Emissions In The Freight Sector

The obvious way to do this, would be to electrify every line in the country and purchase a new fleet of electric freight locomotives.

But the problems with this are the expense, disruption and timescale, it would take to replace all the locomotives and put up electrification on every line that might possibly be used by freight trains and  locomotives.

A solution is needed now, not in ten years.

But there are already solutions being demonstrated or developed that will cut carbon emissions from locomotives.

  • Stadler bi-mode Class 88 locomotives are already hauling freight trains and cutting emissions by using electric power where possible. But there are only ten of these locomotives.
  • The thirty Stadler tri-mode Class 93 locomotives on order for Rail Operations Group could or well be a game-changer. It is already known, that they will be able to cruise at 100 mph using electrification, so they will be able to mix it with the expresses on the Great Eastern Main Line. I suspect that these locomotives have been designed to be able to haul freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe, by juggling the power sources.
  • In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, I describe how Clean Air Power are converting a Class 66 locomotive to run on both diesel and hydrogen. This could be a very fruitful route, especially, if the diesel-electric Class 66 locomotives could be fitted with a pantograph to use electrification where it exists.
  • I have been very impressed with the work Wabtec have done to convert a large American diesel-electric locomotive into a battery electric locomotive. I wrote about it in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh. In Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?, I concluded that it might be possible to convert Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives using Wabtec’s technology.
  • In Powered By HVO, I talk about DB Cargo’s use of HVO to cut carbon emissions.

I am also sure that there are probably other solutions to decarbonise freight locomotives under development.

I would hope that over the next few years the amount of diesel fuel used in the freight sector will decrease significantly.

Improved Freight Routes

Currently, freight trains to and from Felixstowe take one of these routes.

  1. Via London – Using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line or Gospel Oak and Barking Line, and the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Via Nuneaton – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Peterborough and Leicester before joining the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.
  3. Via Peterborough – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely and Peterborough before taking the East Coast Main Line or the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln.

The first two routes routes have capacity problems, whereas the third route has been improved by the use of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line.

Problems on the first two routes include

  • The Great Eastern Main Line is only dual-track.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London are at full capacity.
  • The route via Nuneaton does not have much electrification.

The East West Main Line will open up a new route directly across the country for some services, that currently go via the London or Nuneaton routes.

  • Felixstowe and Birmingham
  • Felixstowe and Glasgow
  • Felixstowe and Liverpool
  • Felixstowe and Manchester

These services could use the East West Main Line to connect with the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley, if the track were to be modified.

In addition services between Felixstowe and South Wales and the West Country could use the East West Main Line to Oxford and then join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot.

The East West Main Line could reduce the number of freight trains on these routes.

  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak and Barking Line
  • Peterborough and Leicester Line

The first three lines are certainly at capacity.

The Newmarket Problem

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common, I talked about previous plans of the East West Rail Consortium, who were the predecessor of the East West Main Line Partnership for the rail line between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge through Newmarket.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I have a feeling that if this plan were to be pursued, the Racing Industry in Newmarket wouldn’t be too keen on all the freight trains passing through the town.

Knowing the town and the racing industry and horses, as I do, I suspect that there will need to be serious noise mitigation measures through the town.

One would probably be a noise limit on the trains passing through, which might be very difficult for long freight trains, even if hauled by a much quieter battery-electric or hydrogen-powered locomotive.

Were the East West Main Line Partnership thinking of Newmarket, when they wrote the last sentence of the web page for freight.

In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

Newmarket is a unique town with a strong character and you shouldn’t take the town on lightly.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

Route Map Of The East West Main Line




October 8, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getlink And CargoBeamer Team Up To Launch The First Unaccompanied Cross-Channel Service By Rail

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Getlink.

This is the first paragraph and a half.

Eurotunnel and CargoBeamer have signed a partnership which will see the launch of a new, 100% unaccompanied rail freight transport service across the Short Straits, from Calais to Ashford.

The extension of the rolling motorway from Perpignan to Ashford is a logical step in developing a future international intermodal network between the Channel and the Mediterranean. A second route from Domodossola, in the Alps region, to Calais will also be extended to Ashford after its launch in early October.

These are other points from the press release.

  • Both new railway services will prevent 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
  • They will help to partially resolve the shortage of truck drivers in the UK and Europe.
  • They will relieve traffic congestion on motorways.

It sounds like it could be a worthwhile service with more than the obvious winners.

Who Is CargoBeamer?

This is their web site and it displays an introductory video and this mission statement.

The Road to Rail Sustainable Transport Solutions

CargoBeamer use specially designed rail wagons and this page, which is entitled The Unique CargoBeamer Technology, explains how it works.

This is a claim from the web site.

As soon as the train has arrived, all semi-trailers are transferred automatically and with the simple push of a button. It takes CargoBeamer just 20 minutes to unload 36 semi-trailers from an intermodal train and load the same number at the same time. Both steps simply happen simultaneously. By comparison, a conventional crane terminal needs around three to four hours to handle such a train.

That is certainly not slow.

This video gives a full explanation about how CargoBeamer works.


  1. They can carry all types of trailers.
  2. The video shows the terminal built on a straight single-track line, where freight trains enter, load and unload and leave.

I must admit I like the design of the terminals, which they describe as Compact2 and Compact3, which gives a clue as to their design.

Their first terminal has opened in Calais and is described in this Press Release, which is entitled CargoBeamer Opens Terminal In Calais.

What Routes Are CargoBeamer Planning?

According to their web site, CargoBeamer have opened or are planning terminals at the following places.

  • Ashford – UK
  • Calais – France
  • Domodossola – Italy
  • Duisburg – Germany
  • KaldenKirchen – Germany
  • Perpignan – France
  • Poznan – Poland

Routes opened or planned include.

  • Domodossola – Calais – Ashford
  • KaldenKirchen – Domodossola
  • Perpignan – Calais – Ashford
  • Poznan – Duisburg

You can certainly understand, why Calais is their first terminal.

Serving The UK 


This article on Railway Gazette is entitled CargoBeamer Network Extended To The UK.

This is a paragraph.

Eurotunnnel told Railway Gazette International the aim was to build up to operating whole trains through the tunnel as the market develops, and ultimately to run trains to destinations further inland.

That seems a clear statement of intent.

Ashford could be an easy terminal to develop and I suspect it could be between Ashford and Folkestone, where the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the M20 run close together. The compact size of the terminal would surely help.

The other sensible place for a terminal would be Barking, which can accept trains to the larger European gauge.

But it would be convenient, if trains could be run through the Channel Tunnel to places like Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland.

Gauge clearance of routes to the European size would be a challenging, expensive and disruptive process.

But in Gauge Improvements Across London, I indicated that an enhanced gauge of W12 could be possible through London on the Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines.

But seeing that CargoBeamer appear to be targeting the UK, perhaps they have an innovative wagon design for services to the UK, which could have a height limit for trucks.

September 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments