The Anonymous Widower

West Coast Main Line Electro-Diesels On Test

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

This is the first paragraph.

The first two of 13 Hitachi Class 805 electro-diesel trainsets ordered for Avanti West Coast services are undergoing testing on the West Coast Main Line ahead of entry into service later this year.

These Class 805 trains will go to places like Chester, Bangor and Holyhead via Crewe.

It is interesting to look at various Crewe to London Euston services this morning.

  • 0740 – Class 390 train – From Liverpool – One Stop – 1 hour 40 minutes
  • 0755 – Class 221 train – From Holyhead – One Stop – 1 hour 40 minutes
  • 0832 – Class 390 train – From Manchester – One Stop – 1 hour 37 minutes
  • 0844 – Class 390 train – From Glasgow – 1 hour 28 minutes


  1. The first field is the four-figure time that the train left Crewe.
  2. The last field is the journey time between Crewe to London Euston.
  3. The Class 390 and 805 trains will use electricity to run between Crewe and London Euston, whereas the Class 221 train will use diesel.
  4. Crewe and London Euston is 158 miles.
  5. The Glasgow train covers the 158 miles at an average speed of 107.7 mph.

I have some thoughts.

What Will Be The Time For A Class 805 Train Between Crewe And London Euston?


  • From Crewe, the Class 805 train will be using the electrification to London Euston.
  • The Class 390 train can tilt, whereas the Class 805 train can’t!
  • The Class 805 train is at least three tonnes lighter per car, than the Class 390 train.
  • The lighter weight and possibly more power of the Class 805 trains, will give better acceleration.
  • There is twenty-one years of difference in the build dates of the two trains. In that time, I also suspect that Network Rail have improved the track between Crewe and London Euston.
  • Norton Bridge junction has been improved to avoid conflicts.
  • It would be very convenient for Avanti West Coast and Network Rail, if the performance under electrification of the two trains were similar.

For these reasons, I believe that the performance of a non-stop Crewe And London Euston service using a Class 805 train will be such that it can match that of a Class 390 train.

I would also expect that with a similar stopping pattern between Crewe And London Euston, there would be little to choose between the two trains.

I can see with its better acceleration and lighter weight that the time between Crewe and London Euston will be perhaps a dozen minutes faster than the current time.

Using the electrification will also save a lot of diesel fuel with all its emissions.

Along The North Wales Coast Line


  • Crewe and Holyhead is 105.5 miles and takes two hours and two minutes in a typical service.
  • These figures give an average speed of 52 mph.
  • There are six stops, which are scheduled to take a total of ten minutes.
  • About half the North Wales Coast Line has a maximum operating speed of 90 mph, but through Chester, Llandudno Junction and West of Bangor, the operating speed is 75 mph or less.

I am fairly sure, that with both the current Class 221 trains and the new Class 805 trains, it will be the track, rather than the train that determines the average speed.

It would therefore appear that if the average speed can be raised by track improvements these time savings could be achieved.

  • 60 mph – 105.5 mins – 16.5 mins
  • 70 mph – 90 mins – 32.5 mins
  • 80 mph – 79 mins – 43 mins
  • 90 mph – 70 mins – 52 mins
  • 100 mph – 63 mins – 59 mins
  • 110 mph – 58 mins – 64 mins
  • 120 mph – 53 mins – 69 mins
  • 130 mph – 49 mins – 73 mins
  • 140 mph – 45 mins – 77 mins


  1. The first column is the average speed.
  2. The second column is the time between Holyhead and Crewe.
  3. The third column is the saving.
  4. I suspect that 90 or 100 mph would be the highest possible practical average speed.
  5. Trains average 100 mph on several long sections of the Great Eastern Main Line.
  6. I put in the higher speeds to show what is possible, if the North Wales Coast Line were to be converted into a 140 mph electrified line with digital signalling.

Even at these relatively slow speeds compared to High Speed Two, there are considerable time savings to be made, just by improving the tracks.

Incidentally, High Speed Two is quoted in Wikipedia as aiming for a Crewe and London Euston time of 56 minutes, so by averaging 100 mph between Crewe and Holyhead, London Euston and Holyhead could be under two hours.

Batteries And Class 805 Trains

I wouldn’t be surprised that soon after the Class 805 trains are delivered, they could be converted to a version of Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode  Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.


  1. I suspect that the batteries will be used to handle regenerative braking on lines without electrification, which will save diesel fuel and carbon emissions.
  2. The trains accelerate faster, than those they replace.
  3. The claimed fuel and carbon saving is twenty percent.
  4. It is intended that these trains will be introduced in 2023.

But Hitachi have not given any predictions of the range of these trains on battery power alone.

However, they do claim a battery range of 56 miles for the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is based on similar technology.

These trains could help in speeding the stops between Crewe and Holyhead.

  • Batteries would be charged at Holyhead and on the electrification to the South of Crewe.
  • At each stop, trains would use a proportion of the power in the battery to accelerate faster and save fuel and cut emissions.
  • Battery power would be used in stations for train hotel power.
  • Westbound trains would arrive in Holyhead and Southbound trains would arrive in Crewe, with not much power in the battery.

I suspect that, whether diesel or battery power is used, will be controlled by a sophisticated computerised control system.

Electrification Along The North Wales Coast Line

I think this will eventually happen to allow High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains to run to Chester and along the North Wales Coast Line to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.

But there is no benefit to be gained in electrifying until higher speeds are possible, after track improvements.

I believe these times will be possible with track improvements and the opening of High Speed Two.

  • Holyhead and Crewe – Class 805 train and 80 mph average – 79 mins
  • Holyhead and Crewe – Class 805 train and 90 mph average – 70 mins
  • Holyhead and Crewe – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, electrification and 100 mph average – 63 mins
  • Crewe and London Euston – Class 805 train – 80 mins
  • Crewe and London Euston – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train – 56 mins

Note, electrification will be needed, to run High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains along the North Wales Coast Line.

I am confident that these times will be possible.

  • Holyhead and London Euston – Class 805 train and 90 mph average  along the coast – 2 hours 30 mins
  • Holyhead and London Euston – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train and 100 mph average  along the coast – 2 hours

The current time between Holyhead and London Euston is over three hours 45 minutes.


These trains will certainly speed up trains to North Wales.


February 15, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Penmaenmawr Quarry Rail Terminal Opens

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Hanson has reopened its Penmaenmawr railhead in north Wales, as part of its strategy to reduce vehicle movements and associated CO2 emissions.

The quarrying company has spent £300 000 refurbishing the facility, including upgrades to the railhead conveyor which was last used in 2012. The first trial service was operated by GB Railfreight and transported stone to the Tuebrook depot near Liverpool to test the equipment and uncover any operational issues within the quarry and at the railhead.

The aim is to one one train per week between North Wales and North West England.

This Google Map shows the Penmaenmawr railhead.


  1. Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.
  2. The railhead is in the bottom-left corner of the map.
  3. The North Wales Expressway is between the railway and the beach.

There is a conveyor leading to the South and this second Google Map shows the vast quarry complex.

Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.

It does appear to me, that this is a good move by Hanson.

  • If the quarry can be worked economically, it is surely worthwhile exploiting.
  • Opening new quarries, is generally not an easy process.
  • Even using diesel locomotives on the aggregate trains, probably saves carbon compared to trucks.
  • Closing the quarry would probably not be good for the area.
  • They only want to run one train per week.
  • I wonder, if the train goes through the Halton Curve that opened a couple of years ago.
  • Penmaenmawr and Tuebrook Sidings are a route of about eighty miles.

But I think in the future it could be a very good move, as at least one of three things will happen.

  • The North Wales Coast Line will be electrified.
  • Someone will develop a hydrogen-electric freight locomotive.
  • Wabtec will develop their battery-electric locomotive for the UK with a UK-sized FLXdrive battery.

All possibilities will help Hanson lower the carbon footprint of the route.

Given too, that Hanson will probably decarbonise their quarrying operations by using hydrogen-powered equipment, it should be possible to arrange a hydrogen supply at Penmaenmawr.


January 18, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Anglesey Hydrogen Can Bridge UK’s Energy Gap Says Economics Expert

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the University of Bangor web site.

This is the sub title.

Anglesey can become a UK leader in hydrogen energy technology, cleaning up the transport sector and creating high quality jobs across North Wales, according to a leading Welsh economic expert.

The University of Bangor is a respected university, that goes back to the nineteenth century.

But for Liverpool giving me an unconditional offer, as Bangor was one of the universities on my UCCA form, I could have studied in the North-West corner of Wales.

After a resume of where we are with hydrogen in the world, Dr. Edward Jones of Bangor University outlines how North West Wales can be turned into a hydrogen hub, to join similar hubs at Deeside in Flintshire and at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

This is a paragraph of the article.

Dr Jones believes hydrogen could also hold the key to powering transport in future through a Welsh invention from the 19th century (the hydrogen fuel cell was developed in Swansea by William Grove in 1842).

William Grove was an interesting lawyer and scientist.

Dr. Jones would appear to be very much in favour of using hydrogen to take Wales forward to being zero-carbon in 2050.

I have written a few posts about the transformation of Anglesey and North West Wales, as Wales moves towards this goal. I also have some other thoughts of my own.

Holyhead Hydrogen Hub

This is happening and I wrote about it in Holyhead Hydrogen Hub Planned For Wales.

High Speed Two To Holyhead

I believe this could be a way to create a zero-carbon route between London and Dublin in under five hours and I wrote about it in Could High Speed Two Serve Holyhead?.

  • London and Holyhead in a battery-equipped High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train should be under three hours.
  • A single High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train would run between London and Holyhead, with a passenger capacity of around five hundred. It would probably split and join with another service at Crewe.
  • Discontinuous electrification would be provided along the North Wales Coast Line.
  • The trains could call at Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Chester, Crewe, Llandudno Junction and Bangor.

A High Speed catamaran would speed passengers between Holyhead and Dublin in under two hours.

Hydrogen-Powered Catamarans From Holyhead

The dynamics of a diesel-powered high speed catamaran are well-proven, with some large craft transporting passengers and vehicles on sea crossings all over the world.

Type “hydrogen-powered high speed catamaran” into Google and you get several hits to research and development projects, but no-one appears to have taken a large high speed craft and converted it to hydrogen.

But I do believe that someone somewhere is developing a hydrogen-powered catamaran with something like the following specification.

  • 200 passengers
  • 100-mile range
  • 60 knot operating speed.

The HSC Francisco is a high speed craft that plies between Buenos Aires and Montevideo carrying over a thousand passengers and a hundred cars at 58 knots. It is powered by gas-turbine engines running on liquified natural gas.

I believe I’m not asking for the impossible.

Anglesey Airport As A Zero-Carbon Airport

Anglesey Airport uses part of RAF Valley and has hosted services to Cardiff.

This Google Map shows the runways of RAF Valley.


  1. The longest runway 14/32 is over two thousand metres long.
  2. Rhosneigr station in the South East corner of the map.
  3. The facilities of Anglesey Airport to the North-East of the runways.

The railway forms the border of the airport, as this second Google map shows.

The railway is straight as it passes the Airport and there would be space for a two-hundred metre bi-directional step-free platform for passengers for the Airport.

Airbus are proposing a hydrogen-powered ZEROe Turbofan.

If you think it looks familiar, I believe that Airbus are proposing to develop the aircraft out of the current Airbus A320neo.

  • The capacity will be up to 200 passengers.
  • The range will be up to 2000 miles.
  • Dublin and Anglesey Airports are just 71.5 miles apart.
  • The cruising speed of Mach 0.78 would be irrelevant on this route, as it would probably fly a route to minimise noise.

The plane would probably be able to do several trips between Anglesey and Dublin without refuelling.

As the Port of Holyhead is developing a hydrogen infrastructure, I suspect that to provide hydrogen refuelling at Anglesey Airport would be possible.

I believe that by combining hydrogen-powered aircraft with battery-electric trains, some difficult sea crossings can be made carbon-free.

I believe that Anglesey Airport could be key to a zero-carbon London and Ireland service.

  • Airbus are also proposing a 100-seat ZEROe Turboprop.
  • Belfast, Cork, Derry and Shannon would also be in range.

Flights could also continue to and from Cardiff.

Reopening The Anglesey Central Railway

This has been proposed as a Beeching Reversal project.

I wrote about it in Reopening The Anglesey Central Railway.

It could be reopened as a zero-carbon railway.


There is a lot of scope to use hydrogen in North West Wales and Anglesey.









October 7, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Day Out From Liverpool

I was staying at the Premier Inn close to Moorfields station in Liverpool and decided to go to Blaenau Ffestiniog for the day, with hopefully, a ride from there on the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog on the coast.

The following sections describe the route I took.

Moorfields To Chester

After buying a Day Return from Liverpool Stations to Blaunau Ffestiniog with my Senior Railcard for £20.40, I took one of Merseyrail‘s four trains per hour (tph) from Moorfields station, that goes direct to Chester station.

The train was one of Merseyrail’s Class 508 trains, which are nearly forty years old. Although, they were refurbished a few years ago and get much better TLC. I’ve yet to see a Merseyrail train, that has suffered from spray painters!

It always surprises me, how many people I’ve met, who’ve been for a weekend to Liverpool and haven’t used the Merseyrail system, that has four stations in the City Centre and connects to attractions in the North, South and on the Wirral.

Over the next few years, it will be getting larger and better.

  • New Class 777 trains will replace the current ones.
  • The new trains will have a battery capability to extend routes.
  • The network will be expanded to Skelmerdale and possibly Preston and Wrexham.
  • A connection to Liverpool Airport is a possibility.
  • New stations will be added.

It should also be noted, that after the extensive works at the main Liverpool Lime Street station, that extra direct main line services will be introduced.

  • Chester, Lladudno and Shrewsbury via the Halton Curve.
  • Edinburgh and Glasgow via the West Coast Main Line.

If I was going between Liverpool and Llandudno from next year, I will have two routes.

Chester Station

I think it is truthful to say that Chester station needs improvement.

According to Transport for Wales, improvement is coming by 2028.

It certainly needs it!

  • Chester is one of England’s historic cities.
  • Many residents of Chester commute to Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Chester station is a main railway interchange between North Wales and Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Manchester.
  • The station doesn’t have enough staff or a decent passenger information system.

As the station is managed from Cardiff, does it suffer from being out of sight and out of mind?

Chester To Llandudno Junction

From Chester to Llandudno Junction station took about an hour in a Class 175 train, along the North Wales Coast Line.

The scenery is mixed as these pictures show.

The line has an operating speed of ninety mph, but the train didn’t seem to travel at much over seventy.

The signalling is being improved and it strikes me, that the section of the line to the East of Llandudno could become a route, where Virgin’s Class 221 trains and the new Welsh diesel multiple units to be built in Newport, could really crack on and improve timings.

Up The Conwy Valley Line

Blaenau Ffestiniog has an altitude of 215 metres, and Llandudno Junction has an altitude of perhaps less than ten metres.

The Class 150 train was fairly well loaded, but it managed the climb on the Conwy Valley Line easily.

.As you can see the single-track route starts alongside the estuary of the River Conwy, then continues up to the summit in the 3.5 km long Ffestiniog Tunnel. The summit is 240 metres, so the line descends into Blaenau Ffestiniog station.

Transport for Wales intend to run Class 230 trains on this line.

I wrote about this in Class 230 Trains On The Conwy Valley Line.


The trip with its three changes took around three hours, but this time will get a bit shorter, once direct trains between Liverpool and Llandudno Junction stations via the Halton Curve will be faster and there will be no need to change trains at Chester station.

I looked at the effects of the Halton Curve in Between Liverpool Lime Street And Chester Stations.

I came to this conclusion on timings.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see timings of direct trains between Llandudno and Liverpool Lime Street stations in the order of an hour-and-a half.

I suspect the direct train and the improved journey time will attract more passengers to the route.







July 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment