The Anonymous Widower

Baltic States Agree To Develop Plan To Railway Network’s Conversion According To EU Standards

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

During a meeting of European transport ministers in Brussels, participants agreed that all member states the railway network of which differs from the EU standard, have until 2025-2026 to develop a plan to transition to 1 435 mm. This applies to Latvia as well, as reported by Ministry of Transport.

Latvia and other Baltic States still have railway networks built in accordance with Russian standard of 1 520 mm, whereas the majority of other European countries have railway standard of 1 435 mm. This is also the standard that will be used for the Rail Baltica line.

I have some thoughts.

  1. Putin won’t like it, as his trains won’t fit the gauge, so it will cramp his invasion plans.
  2. Will gauge change apply to Spain and Ireland?
  3. If the Irish Republic converts, will Ulster say no? Undoubtedly they will!
  4. Will it also apply to trams, as there are quite a few metre gauge tramways.

I doubt that it will ever happen everywhere.


December 6, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

The West Midlands Metro Reaches Towards Five Ways

Whilst I was in Birmingham today, I took a ride on the West  Midlands Metro as far as Library and then walked along the route as far as I could get.

I took these pictures,


  1. The tracks fit neatly into the road.
  2. There appears to be no poles for wires to the West of the Library.
  3. It looks like the trams will be running under battery power between Library and Five Ways.

A worker told me, that it could open in a couple of months.

Will Edinburgh trams use a similar system?

May 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement of Bolton-Radcliffe / Bolton – Bury

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This article in the Bury Times is entitled Plans For Bolton Metrolink Route To Radcliffe See New Bid Submitted. This is the introductory paragraphs.

A bid to secure funding for a tram link between Bolton and Radcliffe has been submitted to the government.

Mark Logan, the MP for Bolton North East, hopes to secure part of the Department for Transport’s £500m Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund to connect the town to the major public transport network.

The proposal submitted shows Metrolink connecting Bolton, Radcliffe and Bury by reviving an existing disused track bed; bridging the gap between some of the more deprived areas along the route.

This Google Map shows the triangular area between Bolton, Radcliffe and Bury.


  1. Bolton is just off the Western edge of the map.
  2. Bury is in the North East corner of the map.
  3. Radcliffe is at the Southern edge of the map, close to the point of the triangular green space.
  4. There is already a Metrolink line between Bury and Radcliffe.

If you look at this map on a larger scale, you can see the scars of old railway lines between Bolton and Bury and Bolton and Radcliffe.

I will take a more detailed look at this proposal.


This Google Map shows the Western point of the triangle, where it connects towards Bolton.


  1. The disused railway appears to run South of the Bradley Fold Trading Estate.
  2. It then split into two branches in the middle of the map.
  3. The Northern branch goes off in a North-Easterly direction to Bury.
  4. The Southern branch goes off in a South-Easterly direction to Radcliffe.

I’ve followed the route of the disused railway to the West and it goes all the way to the centre of Bolton.

This Google Map shows between Bolton and Bradley Fold.

This railway used to be part of the Liverpool and Bury Railway. This map, which has been clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route.

This information came in a comment from FS (Thanks!) and there are some interesting bridges and viaducts on the route.

Looking at the route from my virtual helicopter, much of the route between Bolton and Radcliffe, is now a walking and cycle route, so there will have to be some careful design to get shared use right.


This Google Map shows the Radcliffe point of the triangle.


  1. The Bury Line of the Manchester Metrolink runs down the Eastern side of the map.
  2. The Radcliffe tram stop, with its Park-and-Ride is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The disused railway from Bolton joins the map in the North-West corner.

This Google Map avows the Radcliffe tram stop.

I don’t think it would be the most challenging of projects to connect the Radcliffe tram stop to a tram branch to and from Bolton.

  • There seems to be plenty of space on both sides of the main road.
  • Extra platforms could probably be added for Bolton trams if required.

Although, there could be problems threading the route, through the new housing and over the viaducts and bridges.


This Google Map shows the South-West approaches to Bury.


  1. Bury Interchange is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The tracks and sidings of the East Lancashire Railway can be seen running South-West from the centre of Bury.
  3. The proposed line from Bolton enters the map in the South West corner.

Where will the new line terminate, as getting across the town might be expensive?

New Tram Stops

There is a Wikipedia entry, which is entitled Proposed Developments Of Manchester Metrolink, which says nothing about the Bolton – Radcliffe and Bolton – Bury Lines.

But it does indicate, there may be two new stops between Bury Interchange and Radcliffe tram stop.

Buckley Wells

The Wikipedia entry for Buckley Wells tram stop says this.

Buckley Wells is a proposed tram stop on the Bury Line of Greater Manchester’s Metrolink light rail system. It is to be between Bury Interchange and Radcliffe Metrolink station, in the Buckley Wells area of Bury, north of Fishpool and south of Bury town centre.

The proposed site of Buckley Wells stop, by the A56 road, is owned by Transport for Greater Manchester, was proposed in 2003, offering (in addition to the Metrolink stop and services for southern Bury) a park and ride facility, and opportunity to provide an interchange with the East Lancashire Railway.

This Google Map shows the wider area of the site.


  1. The Bury Line of the Manchester Metrolink runs SW-NE across the map.
  2. The A56 Manchester Road runs roughly North-South and crosses over the Bury Line.
  3. The tracks and sidings of the East Lancashire Railway, can be seen in the North-West corner of the map.
  4. The main route of the East Lancashire Railway can be seen crossing the Bury Line in the North-East corner of the map.

If you follow the Bury Line back towards Manchester, there is a connection between the Manchester Methrolink and the East Lancashire Railway.

Elton Reservoir

The Wikipedia entry for Elton Reservoir tram stop says this.

Elton Reservoir, also known as Warth, is a proposed tram stop on the Bury Line of Greater Manchester’s Metrolink light rail system. It is to be located between Bury Interchange and Radcliffe Metrolink station, southeast of Elton Reservoir and south of Bury town centre.

This Google map shows the wider area of the site.


  1. The Bury Line runs North-South from the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The stop is being proposed for new housing, that might be built in the area.

It should be noted that the proposed Bolton – Bury tram line would run on the reservoir side of the houses in the North-West corner of the map.


On a quick look, the two new lines and the two new tram stops, don’t appear to be too challenging.

The only parts that appear difficult might be.

  • Running the trams between Bolton Town Centre and Bradley Fold.
  • Running the trams into Bury Town Centre.
  • Some of the Radcliffe route seems to have been built on.

But there doesn’t seem to be any bridges over major roads or waterways.


There is a lot to like about these two new tram routes.

August 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Freight Tram-Train To Be Tested In Karlsruhe

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Trials with a prototype freight tram or tram-train are to start in Karlsruhe and the surrounding area in 2022. The concept is being drawn up with a view to improving urban life by reducing road traffic and the emissions it generates.

There are other cargo trams in Germany, like the CarGoTram in Dresden and I think it is a concept, we’ll see in other places.

In High Speed Urban Freight Logistics By Rail, I wrote about Rail Operations Group’s plans to run freight services between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station.

It may be different technology, but it has similar objectives.

August 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Light Railway Extension To The Barnstaple Branch (Chivenor Braunton) “TawLink”

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This is an unusual project for two reasons.

  • It is based on light railway or tram technology.
  • The case for the extension is fully set out in the Taw Link web site.

None of the other projects, that I have documented have such a comprehensive statement of their case for acceptance.

The Introduction

This is taken from the home page of their web site.

Combe Rail CIO is proposing a modern, light railway between Barnstaple and Braunton. The North Devon Local Plan already urges the protection of former railway routes, to allow for future re-instatement. This former railway route is 98% intact, with sufficient width to accommodate a new single-track railway line alongside the Tarka Trail and South West Coast Path.

It’s now accepted that new and re-opened railways unlock economic growth. The success of the Borders Railway in Scotland is a spectacular example of this. The challenge of North Devon’s ever-growing population demands similar, forward-looking infrastructure planning.

Some of the other projects, that I have documented, could do with such a clear Statement of Intent.

The Route

This graphic from the Route page on web site shows the route.

And this Google Map shows the area.


  1. Braunton is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Barstaple is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The River Taw runs East-West across the map.
  4. The runways of the former RAF Chivenor, which is now a Royal Marine Base, can be found.

If you enlarge the map by clicking on it, many of the stations on the TawLink can be picked out.

This paragraph from the Route page describes the route.

Starting from Caen Street in Braunton, it will run tramway-style along Station Road, and then use the old railway formation all the way to the Civic Centre car park in Barnstaple. It will then street-run past the front of the former Town Station and along Castle Street to The Strand in the heart of Barnstaple. There are two options for crossing the river Taw – either to street-run along Long Bridge, or to share the proposed reinstated (former railway) bridge. The line will then street-run along Stickelpath Terrace to re-connect to the National Rail Network at Barnstaple (Mainline.) Intermediate stations will be provided at Velator, Wrafton (for Perrigo),  Chivenor (Business Park and The Landings), Ashford (Garden Centre and Braunton Inn) Pottington (Business Park) and Barnstaple Park-and-Ride (near the A39 downstream bridge – which could potentially have a huge catchment area.)

As the proposals for the Reinstatement Of The Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway, are doing, these proposals are replacing a walking and cycle path with a walking/cycling/single-track rail route.

This pair of South-West proposals could set an important design precedent, that can be applied in other places across the UK.

Are These Two Routes Substantially Level?

Thinking about this similar design, were the two original rail routes built as level as possible, so they are now easy walking and cycling routes?

I suspect, that there’s only a couple of metres difference between the two ends of this route at Barnstaple. So it could be the case here!

If thar is the case, it would mean that less energy would be needed to travel the route!

The Trams

This paragraph from the Trams page on the web site describes the trams.

This will be a modern community- and commuter railway, which will run throughout the year. Its scenic location will also make it highly attractive to tourists. It will use lightweight, battery-electric vehicles – like traditional trams, but without the overhead wires – capable of running safely on-road, and quickly off-road. These vehicles are environmentally-friendly, and very quiet. Visually, and in terms of infrastructure, the railway will be low-impact.

I have liked the concept of coastal trams, even since I rode in the one along the Belgian coast, which I wrote about in Riding The Coast Tram.

A Level Route Would Be Beneficial

If I am right about the level nature of the route, this would mean smaller and lighter batteries would be needed to power the trams.


I suspect through-running would not be possible, unless the Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is electrified, as it is a rather challenging route for a light rail vehicle.

The vehicles also don’t probably have enough capacity, for what can be a busy route in the Peak.


I like this proposal and I have a feeling it will be imitated in the future.




August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement Of The Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The basic outline of this Beeching Reversal project is described in the section called RailTrail Project in the Wikipedia entry for the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, where this is a simplified version of what is said.

The railway company is currently planning to extend beyond its western terminus at Boscarne Junction towards Wadebridge alongside the Camel Trail. Known as the RailTrail project, phase one would see the railway extended to Nanstallon Halt, phase two to Grogley Halt and phase three to Wadebridge Guineaport.

In areas where the width of the trackbed does not allow both a railway and a footpath side-by-side, short diversions are proposed. For example, at Grogley, the Camel Trail could be re-routed along a former “headshunt”, which was part of the original railway before it was replaced by a later deviation.

There is some controversy, over the reduction in width of the Camel Trail.

This Google Map shows the River Camel through Wadebridge, where the extension appears to be proposed to finish.


  1. The Guineaport area of Wadebridge is marked by a red arrow-dot.
  2. The Future Plans section of the Wikipedia entry for Wadebridge station, says that the new station will be beyond Guineaport.
  3. The Camel Trail is marked on Google Maps as a dotted line and it can be followed to where it meets the Bodmin and Wenford Railway at Boscarne Junction station.

This Google Map shows Boscarne Junction station.

Looking from my helicopter, I am fairly sure that the RailTrail can be squeezed in with a footpath.

What Sort Of Railway Would It Be?

These are my thoughts.

Will It Be Double Or Single-Track?

It will be single-track, as there is not enough space for two.

I would suspect, they could use similar construction to these tram tracks in Blackpool.

Effectively, the RailTrail could be a high-strength road, with a rail track set to one side, and appropriate markings, rails and safety signage.

How Long Will The New Track Be?

Google gives these distances.

  • Padstow and Boscarne – 14.4 miles
  • Padstow and Bodmin – 16 miles
  • Wadebridge and Boscarne – 6 miles
  • Wadebridge and Bodmin – 7.4 miles

I have added Padstow, as this town on the sea, used to be the rail terminus.

Should The Route Go To Padstow?

This Google Map shows the Padstow end of the Camel Trail.

But there could be a major problem.

At the bottom of the map is the Little Petherick Creek Bridge.

  • It’s probably OK for a cycle trail, but would it be strong enough for heavy rail use.
  • On the other hand, is it past its replace date and Cornwall County Council might like to pass the responsibility to Network Rail?

There is also more land to build a station at Padstow.

It could even be built on the East side of the bridge, so that the heaviest thing it would carry would be pedestrians.

Would A Shared RailTrail Work?

One of the most interesting train systems, that I have seen is in Zwickau in the former East Germany, where instead of buying more trams to connect to other towns and cities, they devised a train-tram system using standard diesel multiple units.

The Zwickau system is more complicated than it would need to be in the UK, as the trains have to share tram-tracks of a different size, so there are  three-railed tracks; two for the metre gauge trams and an extra one for the standard gauge trains.

I have never seen anywhere else, where rail vehicles of different gauges share rails.

The trains run under virtually the same rules as street running trams do in Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • You can cross the road all round them.
  • Trains are limited to slow speeds.
  • The trains are independently powered.
  • The trains cross level crossings.
  • There is no electric power for the trains.
  • The trains are double-manned and the crew keep a good look out!

Note, in the pictures, that the trains have flashing orange warning lights.

Could a GWR Class 800 train run along the RailTrail?

  • The train would be a five-car unit.
  • The train would be fitted with environmentally-friendly battery power, so it would be emission-free and almost silent.
  • There would be a charging facility in the platform at Bodmin General station to top up the battery, before the train ran on the RailTrail.
  • As in Zwickau, the track would be buried in the ground. so it could be safely used by trains and not be a hazard to pedestrians.
  • The train would have a slow speed crawling mode, so it could proceed along the RailTrail with extreme care.

With the right timetable, the modern trains could share with the Bodmin and Wenford’s heritage trains.

Could Wadebridge Get A Direct Service To London Paddington?

Why not?

Places like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton appear to be being added to LNER’s network, by joining and splitting Class 800 trains at Leeds.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a five-car Class 800 train with a battery capability running  from Wadebridge to Plymouth, where is joined with another train from Newquay, Penzance or Plymouth, before running as a ten-car train to London Paddington.


I like this scheme and it could be a prototype for other similar ones.

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Coronavirus Pushes Switch From Cash To Card Payment

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Cash sales of tickets on the Metlink transport network in Greater Wellington will end on March 23, in a move which Metlink said was designed ‘to stay one step ahead of Covid-19 and give our passengers and staff more peace of mind’.

Should all buses, trams and trains go cash-free and contactless in the UK?


March 19, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Most Annoying Thing They Do To Trams

When I first arrive in a city, I tend to take a ride on the local trams to get my bearings.

But it is difficult, to see where you are and what you are doing, if the tram is covered in advertising, like this one in Manchester.

It means that visitors can’t see the city properly. Hopefully, locals know their city!

I remember visiting one city, where every tram was wrapped in advertising.

The city wasn’t very interesting, so perhaps that was the reason.

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Battery-Poweed Trams To Beat Congestion

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

New tram networks could be rolled out in towns and cities across England under government plans to cut congestion and pollution.

The Department for Transport said that so-called light rail systems could help “reduce dependence on private cars”. A report published yesterday said that trams could carry 20,000 passengers an hour in each direction – about four times more than buses.

It goes on to discuss battery-powered trams and their advantages.

It then discusses the future and says that funding for new tram networks could come from the £2.5billion Transforming Cities Fund.

I’ve been trying to find the report, but it doesn’t appear to be on the Department for Transport web site.

Thanks to Peter, the report is called Light Rail And Other Rapid Transit Solutions In Cities And Towns: Call For Evidence and it is on this page of the Government web site.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

DfT Consulting On Plans To Expand Pay-As-You-Go Rail Travel Nationwide

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

I can’t see what the problem is.

  • My bank card would be linked to my Freedom Pass and Senior Railcard on either a ticketing web site or even better on my on-line bank account.
  • If it were the latter, then when I checked my bank account, as I do regularly, I could also check my travel.
  • I would then just touch in and touch out for each journey.
  • The central computer would then give me the best price for my journey.

As an example, if I went to say Oxford, I would only be charged between the Zone 6 boundary, which is my Freedom Pass limit and Oxford station.

I would not need to buy an extra ticket.

This is all well and good for those with UK bank accounts, but how would it handle other eventualities?

Overseas Visitors

If say one of my overseas friends was in the UK, they would just use a contactless bank card.

If they had a Railcard, as several do, they would register the link on a ticketing web site.

Advance Tickets

These could still be bought on-line or at a booking office as now.

Buses, Taxis and Trams

The system should be extended to buses, taxis, traims and any other future transport systems like cable-cars and pod systems.


It would be a very complicated computer system to program, but most of the work has already been done for London and is working successfully.

It would make the UK’s public transport system one of the most passenger-fruendly in the world.

What would that do for ridership? And tourism?


February 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment