HS2

20.07.17

Grayling throws three major electrification plans out the window 

The government has decided to call off plans to electrify a string of major routes based on the premise that bi-mode trains already provide seamless transfer from diesel power to electric, in a move the Welsh government argued “amounted to years of broken promises”.

In a statement today, transport secretary Chris Grayling announced the government would be scrapping plans to electrify the Great Western route west of Cardiff, the Midland Main Line north of Kettering, and the line between Windermere and Oxenholme.

The highly controversial move was justified with the advancement of bi-mode trains, which in theory removes the need to electrify “every line to achieve the same significant improvements to journeys”. Instead, the DfT will only press ahead with electrification “where it delivers a genuine benefit to passengers”.

Using better train technology, the government hopes to improve journeys on key routes sooner than expected “instead of carrying out disruptive electrification works along the whole of these routes”.

The next East Midlands operator, for example, will be required to deliver a new fleet of bi-mode intercity trains from 2022, which will ultimately replace plans to electrify the line north of Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham. There will also be “further investment to come” to ensure Sheffield is ready for HS2.

Late last year, rail minister Paul Maynard had reaffirmed the DfT’s commitment to electrifying the Midland Main Line, but refused to confirm that the section north of Kettering would be finished by the already-revised date of 2023.

And because Welsh passengers will be travelling on Hitachi’s Intercity Express trains come autumn this year, Grayling believes the disruptive nature of electrification work is no longer needed.

“Rapid delivery of passenger benefits, minimising disruption and engineering work should always be our priority and as technology changes we must we must reconsider our approach to modernising the railways,” he said. “We will only electrify lines where it provides a genuine benefit to passengers which cannot be achieved through other technologies. As a result, we no longer need to electrify the Great Western route west of Cardiff.”

Although controversial, the news will not come as a complete surprise to those who have kept an eye on the spiralling costs of the Great Western project, which more than tripled from its original budget. The Public Accounts Committee has previously described it as a “stark example of how not to run a project”, and the Rail Delivery Group concluded in March that the scheme in particular was to blame for the sluggish pace of building electric and bi-mode trains in the UK.

Writing for RTM, Lord Berkeley has also used the scheme as an example of Network Rail’s alleged inability to produce realistic costs for projects and argued the National Audit Office’s take on it made for “depressing reading for those who want a cost-effective and growing railway”.

The DfT itself has faced harsh and repeated criticism over the project’s major delays and indefinite ‘pauses’.

It also explains the government’s decision last year to convert the Hitachi Class 801 units to bi-mode operation rather than purely electric, although former rail minister Claire Perry said this was designed to ensure the trains could still enter service despite GWML electrification delays.

Instead of electrification, Grayling has floated a series of “further options” to improve journeys for Welsh passengers, including by enhancing links between key cities, introducing new direct services and refurbishing stations.

He also supports a proposal for Wales’ first privately-funded railway station at St Mellons, with the DfT keen on working with the scheme’s promoters to develop the plans further.

Across the north, the secretary of state said he has “listened to concerns about electrification gantries spoiling protected landscapes”. Northern will therefore start exploring the possibility of deploying “alternative-fuel trains”, such as battery or hydrogen-powered units, on the route by 2021.

“This trial will pilot an alternative-fuelled train, removing the need to construct intrusive wires and masts in this National Park,” he said. “Journeys between Windermere and Manchester Airport will be improved sooner and with less disruption to services and local communities. This replaces plans to electrify the line between Windermere and Oxenholme.”

As expected, the controversial plans have attracted widespread criticism from industry figureheads and politicians. A Welsh government spokesperson said in a statement that the “disturbing news… amounted to years of broken promises”, and Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, argued the decision “betrays a promise to South Wales”.

He later said in the Commons: “Today, on the last day of the session, a statement has been sneaked out which is of massive economic detriment to the country, and lays waste to any semblance of industrial strategy, and totally conflicts with what was said on Monday night at the despatch box about electrification, and smashes to bits the government’s promises to the people of the north and the Midlands, and especially to the people of South Wales.”

Grayling’s statement formed part of a string of announcements around the government’s rail plans going into CP6. He has promised a boost in renewals work for the next control period matched by sufficient funding, but has deferred clarifying what the funding package will be while an investigation takes place to assess Network Rail’s efficiency issues.

Comments

Graham   20/07/2017 at 16:15

Pity we cannot scrap the government and get one that is thinking of the future of our country as we the public will have to suffer these awful dirty trains for years to come which is at odds with all research into how bad diesel is for our health

Lewis C   20/07/2017 at 16:18

Ooo yay! More bi-mode trains (evident sarcasm). The new Hitachi trains are ugly, and on some accounts will increase journey times (ahem Class 800 GWML ahem)! I wonder why so many TOCs have ordered bi-mode. Oh that's right, because they were going to be run on lines that have plans for electrification. Grrr!

Lutz   20/07/2017 at 16:26

A welcome development; there are a lot emotive comments flying around but they ignore the GBP 4 Billion cost, and rising, arising from NR's failures in completing the projects on time and to budget. Without this action, funding for future expansions plans would still all be at risk.

Mikeb   20/07/2017 at 17:20

Definitely Grayling's predecessor to blame for announcing a number of electrification schemes all at the same time. He should have given the go-ahead for the Great Western wiring only and when that was nearing completion, then would have been the time to consider other schemes.

Sonning Cutting   20/07/2017 at 18:27

Bi-mode trains [and cars] are the future. Battery technology and alternative fuels are improving fast.. And judging by the catenary infrastructure around Reading meeting modern electrification design standards results in an over-powering and rather grotesque landscape.

M.Mccabe   20/07/2017 at 21:38

As someone who has campaigned for the last seven years, this has been disappointing news. However there are two issues if note. The government has acted in a very condescending manner to the voters in Swansea and the East Midlands. Having been promised these projects by a succession of Conservative politicians, there may be a day of reckoning if an election comes sooner than supposed. Secondly the dual mode IEPs may not deliver in practice. Picking the IEP first and building the network afterwards may turn out to have been a bad choice. Dual mode Voyagers and Pendolinos might have been a better choice. The scrapped projects may need to finished to ensure that the IEPs work in practice.

Simon Eames1990   20/07/2017 at 22:21

Chris Grayling is a massive failure for our railways! Just to save money for HS2! PROMISES HAVE BEEN BROKEN!!!

Cynical   20/07/2017 at 23:01

No more then to be expected from a weak Minister, ineffective DfT and bunch of TOC's that say whatever is needed to keep their moneystream. When you had a co-ordinated professional Rail Body steering the Industry and it's development, you had progress (sometimes at "cost price" admittedly but still progress). Now you get fudge and political spin! NR completely lost the plot with GWML Electrification and that has given Government, desperately seeking cost savings everywhere, the excuse to wriggle out of progress and spin rubbish about bi-modals. A sad day!

Andrew Gwilt   21/07/2017 at 01:04

Why can't the government, Network Rail and DfT just allow to electrify the Midland Main Line as far as Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield and Corby and to use the new Bi-Mode trains to replace the Class 43's HST's and to use the Class 222's Meridians elsewhere or use the Class 222's on Crosscountry services. Surly the Great Western electrification will still continue as new Class 800's and Class 801's are being built to replace the Class 43's HST's and Class 387's that has replaced the Class 165's and Class 166's on the Paddington-Maidenhead route with extensions to Reading, Oxford and Newbury to be announced if electrification does extend beyond Reading to Newbury and beyond Didcot Parkway to Oxford. The Gospel Oak-Barking electrification works is still continuing with new Class 710's to be built to replace the Class 172's that could be cascaded to other lines including Greenford Line if London Overground takes over the West Ealing-Greenford branch line and to use the Class 172's aswell Class 172's cascaded to Chilterns Railways or GWR to work on branch lines in the Thames Valley area that electrification isn't planned yet.

Steveb   21/07/2017 at 08:26

I thought that the MML was to be part of the 'Electric Spine' from Southampton to allow freight trains to be hauled by electric locomotives?

Mel   21/07/2017 at 09:36

poor delivery of projects given him the excuse to bin all this, understandable but investing in carbon fuel powered stock is not the future. Bi mode the future? - only while diesel is cheap and readily available (30 year life on a new train)

Tothehills   21/07/2017 at 10:50

Still rather puzzled why it's so important to electrify to Newbury but not Oxford or Bristol.

David Faircloth   21/07/2017 at 10:52

Not sure what a "genuine benefit to passengers" means, but surely that's what electrification of the MML will give when compared with what's now being offered. From what I can gather, a five car IEP bi-mode has 3 MTU engines; I believe these are rated at 900bhp on those being procured for Paddington - West of England services, giving a total power output of 2700bhp. The weight of a class 802 is 253 tonnes, giving a power to weight ratio of less than 11bhp per tonne. A 5-car 'Meridian' has 5 750bhp engines, giving a total bhp of 3750; this works out at about 16bhp per tonne. So as IEP bi-modes have an inferior power-to-weight ratio, how will they be able to match the point to point timings of a 'Meridian'? Further, the AVERAGE axle loading of an IEP works out at over 12.5 tonnes; however, I have seen it recorded (somewhere!) that they have an axle loading of 15 tonnes. By contrast, a 'Meridian' has an axle loading of about 11.5 tonnes. There are a lot of differential speed limits on the MML; so will bi-modes, with their increased weights, be able to take advantage of them? Electrification and the Market Harborough and Derby interventions would have bought journey times of about 75 minutes between London and Derby/Nottingham, and (from memory) a total saving of about 15 minutes on St Pancras - Sheffield times. Is Grayling promising that bi-modes will match this? Most of the 20 minute reduction on peak hour services promised could be introduced at the next timetable change; it's just a matter of cutting out stops south of Leicester. Interesting times ahead.

GREEN TWYFORD   21/07/2017 at 11:51

At last, can we please get back 3 rail electrification where the line speeds are slower - this awful overhead has totally wrecked the good countryside views, particularly through the Thames Valley. I suppose this is the end of any hope of modernising the TV branches? BUT Government need to complete GWR BEFORE starting on HS2, one major project at a time. How long before we have Solar panel power electric trains? May be aircraft too, cut those emissions. So now real hope for Vivarail 230 conversions - plenty more opportunity. About time the North of England lost its flavour with MPs - waste of money new trains for foreign parts!

J, Leicester   21/07/2017 at 11:52

David, I did some working out of acceleration rates from the scant information Hitachi has released. The specs for Class 800s and 801s (released in 2014) suggest it's 0.7m/s2, but do not specify whether that's for diesel or electric traction, or a mean reading of both. For comparison, we know a Meridian accelerates at 0.79m/s2 according to its own specs. By Hitachi's own admission, their IEPs have a slower acceleration rate . Deceleration is 1 m/s2, but again this is given as a broad figure - we don't know if that's diesel, electric or a mean. Specific information for the diesel engines has been withheld - while we can't make a clear judgement on the 802s which will probably form the EM franchise commitment, I would put money on them being significantly worse than a Meridian, and possibly around the same as, if not worse than, an EMT HST. TL;DR - I fully believe that the IEP bi-modes would struggle to keep up current timetable commitments, let alone the proposed 6 trains per hour from 2019 onwards.

Jpg   21/07/2017 at 12:02

Environmental disaster carrying diesel loads under the wires also infrastructure wear due to diesel engineso plus fuel loadings.it's as bad as westate coast with diesel traction. Predicted that we going to happen after electric only were converted to bi/mode. Tories at there best products road !

P E Ó Donnghaile   21/07/2017 at 12:09

So we continue to electrify the road network (charging points now the whole length of the A87) but it isn't worth it for rail?

Gileo, Reading   21/07/2017 at 12:21

No mention of what is happening with the Trans Pennine Electrification. Is just too much bad news before the summer recess or is that still on the agenda?

Amalgamated Man   21/07/2017 at 12:40

Clearly it is disappointing that electrification is being curtailed, but given the inability of Network Rail to deliver electrification within budget and on time, it is a sensible compromise, given that there is a finite pot of taxpayer money. Moreover, this decision does not preclude future electrification. It is a compromise, of course - Class 801s are heavy EMUs compromising speed and acceleration when operating in Diesel mode - but can we afford to continue throwing good money after bad into the money pit which is Network Rail?

Mr J F Coffin   21/07/2017 at 12:48

At long last the bottomless pit of Network Rail (a nationalised company) Electrification has been closed off. There is nothing that NR promises that does not over-run both on time or money where overhead is concerned. The Welsh government can always raise the finance required from their own taxpayers if they feel that strongly about their bit of cancellation. The GOBLIN line, Rotherham Train/Tram over-runs add to this glorious display of another nationalised farce.

Andrew P. Jones   21/07/2017 at 13:05

Windermere to Oxenholme is only 10½ miles. What is the point in not doing it, and using straight electric traction? Getting the foundation pile driving train there would be out of the way, but the rest could be done by OLE maintenance staff. Minimal costs, maximum savings.

Sam E   21/07/2017 at 13:07

There's no mention of what's happening south of Bedford. The St Pancras - Bedford wires are currently only able to operate at under 100mph, so will require some substantial work to be able to take high speed services. Will this work still go ahead? Or will our bi-mode saviours use diesel throughout, save for a 20 minute section between Bedford and Kettering?

John Grant   21/07/2017 at 13:15

Interesting they mention hydrogen, though maybe that's just words and not for real. Does anyone know how fuel cells compare with diesel for power-to-weight ratio? If hydrogen power can give the same kind of acceleration as OLE, it'd be better, if only because no more stoppages for the wires being down. Another way forward might be diesel + small battery, with the battery being charged on deceleration and then giving extra power for acceleration, as in formula 1 cars.

J, Leicester   21/07/2017 at 13:22

Gileo, the fact that TPE already have bi-modes on order is now basically a blank cheque for the government and NR to scale back electrification schemes there too. The precedent was set yesterday. I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of Piccadilly or Victoria didn't see a full electrified service, if not a full cancellation. That, of course, would be an even bigger disaster than the EM and GW routes losing their schemes. The TP route has far tougher gradients, and the 800s are going to be a damn sight heavier than the 185s currently in use (though admittedly their acceleration rate is pretty paltry to begin with - I read 0.49m/s2 somewhere?) Might as well save everyone the misery and order more Mk 5s for use with 68s - or even 88s, if they're that keen on bi-mode.

Henry Law   21/07/2017 at 13:59

Bi Mode is a bad idea. It is an unnecessarily expensive soution. Diesel equipment has be be installed and mass is carried around uselessly under the wires. Electric traction equipment has to be installed and mass is carried around uselessly on routes which are not electrified. We end up with trains that are under powered where there is no electrification. Traction changes on frequent services were managed perfectly satisfactorily at Rickmansworth between 1924 and 1960 and Bournemouth between 1967 and 1988. That this approach has been abandoned suggests a curious loss of memory within the industry.

Pdeaves   21/07/2017 at 14:13

To 'J, Leicester'; decelleration rates are immaterial and are largely dictated by what is comfortable for passengers. Traction mode doesn't matter. In other news, the bi-modes will now be able to match HST timings with an agreement in place to uprate the engines. "A Great Western Railway spokesman welcomed the decision to upgrade the power of the trains in diesel mode..." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-40665659).

Sandym   21/07/2017 at 14:40

So much for the Northern Poorhouse! There's always plenty of funds for London; there were already railways to cross London before Crossrail. HS2 East and HS3 will be next! Can we really expect battery and mythical hydrogen rail traction units to be totally reliable within 4 years ? What happened to cleaning up the diesel pollution and moving to cleaner transport? Who noticed that Parliament had gone into the recess for the Summer?

Mike   21/07/2017 at 15:15

Graylings statement that gantry's would spoil the countryside is the reason for the cancellation of the Oxenhome Windermere electrification. Must be the biggest load of rubbish I have heard in a long time. The government have cut Network Rails budget as part of its austerity programme. Roll on Jeremy Corbyn.

King's Lynn   21/07/2017 at 15:22

I do find it staggering how Britain in the 21st Century can operate like this. I think from the comments above (apart from GREEN TWYFORD; do you really think like that?) that everything that needs to be said has been said, so now I'm just waiting for an article on RTM where some suit or other goes on about 'key learnings' from this debacle, where the only 'key learning' seems to be that the UK can't handle large projects any more without making a hash of them and then causing large amounts of upset. Too many managers, not enough people on the ground and far too much politics. As I said on another site about this subject, just imagine if Brunel wanted to build the GWML today..!? It would probably get as far as Swindon and be cable hauled because it was 'cheaper that way'... Also, if we are to have to deal with this Brave New Britain after making the decision to leave the EU, the North-South(London) divide in relation to these matters needs to stop.

Billd   21/07/2017 at 15:42

This is only to be expected from an inept Ministry and its Minister who asked NR to carry out electrification without giving any notice. The original GWR scope didn't include past Cardiff, slow lines or branches. Network Rail didn't know their assets because privatisation to Railtrack lost much knowledge and many experienced people. The government's hostility to electrification pre-GWR meant that NR didn't have a capable asset to design it (or oversee it) or to plan it. It's no wonder that the cost has risen due to a panic start, lack of proper scope, lack of resources. In the construction industry there's a saying that modifications mean money - or a loss making bid is magically turned into a profit by changes after the contract is let! What has happened is the Government through the Minister and Ministry set NR up to fail.

Andrew JG   21/07/2017 at 18:29

I'm disgusted by the electrification cancellations on some major railways including the GWML and Midland Main Line. Literally. It's out of order.

David Faircloth   21/07/2017 at 19:54

Everything seems to being driven by the GWR electrification debacle; I know there have been some cost overruns and delays in Scotland, but are they of the same magnitude as between Paddington and South Wales? What were NR's original costs based on? Is the Furry + Frey stuff more expensive? It certainly looks over-engineered. There's a statement in the ECML Completion Report which says something like "it isn't the electrification which is expensive and disruptive, it's the civils and signalling work which goes with it"; as Derby remodelling, Market Harborough curve easing, and transfer of signalling to the EMCC is still going ahead, how much more would electrification cost? I wonder if the DfT has done a proper analysis? My guess is that full electrification would have a lower NPV than going for bi-modes (which have a higher capital cost, higher maintenance cost, are heavier so will use more energy and pay higher access charges, etc); and unless they can exactly match electric timings, there won't be the revenue increase electrification will bring (is it still 1% extra for every minute saved?)

Andrew Johnathan Gwilt   21/07/2017 at 20:28

Looks like 100% of the people have voted-No, electrification is needed regardless of bi-mode trains in order to prepare for future needs and boost capacity. I reckon that the electrification scheme deserves to continue despite the cost of electrifying the Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line and other major lines that are planned to be electrified. So that means-THE ELECTRIFICATION WILL CONTINUE!!

James Miller   22/07/2017 at 00:24

I have been digging around Hitachi's web site, where I found an article describing the design of the trains. 1. 801s all have at least one diesel engine for emergency power. 2. 80xs all have the same traction system design, but some don't have diesel generators. 3. Regenerative braking appears to be handle by an onboard battery on all trains including 800s and 802s. 4. Trains can couple and uncouple in under 2 minutes. 5. Trains can be up to 12-cars long and 24 in an emergency. 6. Trains can be locomotive haled in an emergency. 7. Trains can be as short as 4 cars. I8. Trains could be third rail. Some of this is stated in the document and other bits I've deduced because I'm an electrical engineer. They are impressive trains.

Jimbo   22/07/2017 at 11:34

If anyone is surprised by this, they haven't been paying attention. Since the cost of the GWML electrification ihas now more than tripled in cost, there is no way that this level of cost can be sustained, so it was inevitable that other electrification projects would be cancelled. But hang on, there are two critical, unanswered questions here - why did the cost rise so much and will that increase apply to future projects? We have seen lots of excuses about poor project management, changes of specs etc., so those won't apply to future projects, so why is this now taken as a benchmark cost? What is needed is a full project management review and some forensic accounting to find out where all the money has gone and then rebuild a new benchmark based on how it should be done. This has to be done, because this project is costing vastly more than equivalent projects around the world, so either we are over-paying for our rail projects, or British "rules" are making us uncompetitive against the rest of the world.

Manek Dubash   22/07/2017 at 13:07

Jimbo, some of the cost at least is as a result of new electrification standards that bring the UK more into line with European standards. These includes issues such as the clearance required between fixed infrastructure and the 25kv wires, which is higher on the continent, and which was, as I understand it, not fully accounted for when planning the GWML electrification.

David Faircloth   22/07/2017 at 13:37

Regarding the comment by Manek Dubash, I believe that he is correct, but this isn't the whole story, as I understand it; certainly, all the records of the work on electrification clearances done in the Crewe "muck-hole" during the 1960s has been "lost" and European larger clearance standrads are now the norm, but isn't the GWML overhead compliant with interoperability requirements as well? Do these need to apply to the MML? Recently, the contract was awarded for the electrification of the Shotts line in Scotland, and this worked out at just over £1m per single track mile of overhead; so of the infrastructure work on the MML has already been done, and more will be incorporated into the Derby remodelling and Market Harborough works, so just how much would electrification of the MML have cost?

Fwipperie Jones   22/07/2017 at 20:05

A masterstroke by Chris Grayling. In 10 yeas or less we shall have battery trains which will charge from overhead wires only required at terminus stations (Oxenholme and Windermere solved and the Thames valley lines too) and from hydrogen technology. Overhead wires are ugly and will become obsolete in less than 30 years on all but high speed routes. Electrification from Cardiff to Swansea was never financially viable and as has been proven from GWR costs escalating but politicians seek to "politicise". Spending that money on new technology trains is the way ahead

Pwt   22/07/2017 at 20:51

Whilst I can just about understand the reasons for cancelling the electrification projects, what does annoy me is Mr Grayling’s justification for doing so. From now on we’ll have to make do by “using better train technology” whatever that means just when everyone else in the developing world generally uses electric traction for high speed intercity trains but, of course, the DfT know better. Mr Grayling seems to talk down all the benefits of electrification (already covered in many of the letters above) and only seems to be bothered about the passengers’ perspective. The root cause stems right back to the privatisation of the railways and the associated fragmentation of the industry with many of the skills to do such work lost. We seem to no longer have the ability to deliver large electrification projects and cancelling those projects already underway is only going to make matters worse. I wonder how they manage in Germany, Switzerland, Austria; the list goes on…….

Andrew G   22/07/2017 at 22:23

Chris Grayling should be ashamed for cancelling the electrification on the Midland Main Line (North of Bedford), some parts of the Great Western Main Line, Windermere Line and other routes that electrification might of been affected and postponed. The Gospel Oak-Barking Line electrification hasn't been affected and will continue until its completion next year with brand new Bombardier Class 710's Aventra EMU's that TfL London Overground have ordered.

Mikeb   23/07/2017 at 19:09

Just heard Grayling has announced that TransPennine is now to be electrified "in part only", as "trains will be able to switch between electric and diesel traction" easily. However, no indication of which part is to be wired!

AJG   24/07/2017 at 02:23

That could also mean good news for the Class 319 "Flex" aka Class 769's Bi-Mode units that some of the Class 319's are having new Diesel engines fitted so that they can operate on electrified AC 25kv overhead and non-electrified lines and are likely to be operated not just in Northern England but also to be used in South Wales. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_769 http://www.railstaff.uk/2017/07/21/bi-mode-class-319s-lakes-line/

Gabriel Oaks   24/07/2017 at 07:29

"At last, can we please get back 3 rail electrification" Very unlikely as DC third-rail electrification cannot comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations (the current DC network cannot comply but there is no viable solution). Furthermore the economics of DC electrification (build cost /power cost through loss) simply do not add up.

J, Leicester   24/07/2017 at 08:38

James Miller, as "impressive" as they are, the issue is not emergency back-up diesel or regenerative braking. Nor is it the coupling procedure. That's all sound on the IEP series, not going to argue - same with the 801s, which are by all accounts EMUs fit for the modern railway. It's the acceleration rate of the diesel engines on these things, which is lower than the units they're going to replace, the logistics of having to change power modes multiple times mid-journey forcing additional stops into the timetable, the complete lack of forward planning for HS2 compatability and the wires south of Bedford being incapable of running electric services above 100mph that are the terminal problems. The MML is going to see its timetable and PPM suffer when these things are introduced - mark my word. They would struggle to keep up the current timetable, and diagrams are only going to become more intensive once 6 trains per hour becomes the norm after 2019.

Jerry Alderson   24/07/2017 at 20:08

As lost posters have written, a lot of us have seen this coming. Back in 2009 when the first electrification schemes were announced I warned colleagues not to push for more straight away because it was necessary to find the true cost of doing them before commissioning others. We didn't know the true cost anymore since the last electrification scheme of any size (Crewe-Kidsgrove was only eight miles) was around 1997 for Heathrow Express, and 1992 for the other schemes. Crucially we had lost the skills. Unfortunately the government got over-excited about electrification because it does often make a lot of sense - and announced a whole series of schemes without knowing the true costs. Only now has Network Rail any idea and it is not cheap, not helped by its refusal to seek derogations from the latest EU standards. In Britain we are now getting back the expertise that we threw away in the 1990s. Scaling back the ambitious plans is *not* the alarming part of the proposal Stopping all new electrification once the current schemes are completed would be utterly stupid and send us back to where we were in 2009. We need a continuous electrification programme even if it is on a much smaller scale.

Simon, Manchester   25/07/2017 at 07:44

Warning to all. The Grayling Axe hasn't finished swinging yet!!

Gabriel Oaks   25/07/2017 at 10:23

Perhaps the starting point is an in-depth inquiry into the failings of the GWML electrification and how repetition can be avoided. There should then be a further in-depth study into future electrification /bi-mode operation (etc) as the government appears to be keen to buy these trains without understanding all the issues (both economic and operational).

Dave, Leicester   25/07/2017 at 13:54

As a certain tennis player once said. 'You cannot be serious man'

Walace58   25/07/2017 at 16:37

Does 4rail electrification meet electric at work regs and why?

Graham Nalty   25/07/2017 at 18:12

This article has certainly drawn some comments. What is a real public relations disaster by the Minister is to suggest that bi-mode trains will give an improvement for passengers. This is an insult to the intelligence of all RTM readers and anyone else with comparable knowledge of railways. the public wants electric trains and they enjoy the quieter ride of electric trains to diesel trains as I experienced recently on a journey between Derby and St. Albans. Commercial companies that resort to spin to deceive their customers soon lose business when found out.

Rhydgaled   26/07/2017 at 09:10

We cannot allow a new fleet of bi-mode trains to be procured for the Midland Main Line. Diesel trains have a life span of 30 years, so even the Great Western class 800 units will still be with us in 2047 and any new Midland Main Line diesel fleet will remain beyond 2050. Think about it; 2050; that's the date set for the key greenhouse gas reduction target in the Climate Change Act (which, I believe, does not currently go far enough to meet the goals of the Paris agreement). We CANNOT AFFORD to still be burning diesel on mainline intercity routes in 2050. With today's announcement that new cars bought after 2040 must not burn petrol or diesel, we might even need to have made a start on electrifying secondary routes like the Cambrian line to Aberystwyth (although fuel efficiency of diesel trains on such routes will be better by virtue of not having to exceed 100mph).

J, Leicester   26/07/2017 at 10:46

Regarding my comment about the TPE route on the 21st - just call me Nostradamus. Or alternatively, somebody that can add 2 and 2 together.

Lee   26/07/2017 at 14:57

There seems to be a shade f history repeating itself here with this new emphasis on bi-mode trains. As far as I am aware, no Bi-mode trains have been tested in revenue service as yet, using batteries, gensets and conventional electrical supplies. Yet the government is prepared to adopt this 'new' technology, relatively unproven. Has anyone else remembered what happened the last time government did this in the 1950-60's when British railways invested heavily in a variety of diesel and electric traction form a variety of builders, ordering straight from the drawing board and successfully acquiring an eclectic mix of traction, some of which was successful, a lot of which was not and all at great expense. As I recall, a lot of classes had very short working lives. While history may not repeat itself exactly, government has shown it is capable of amassing great cost to the tax-payer chasing the cheapest alternative, sorry, best value for money.

Realism   27/07/2017 at 03:40

Better to spend the money on getting the speed up e.g., straighten the track as much as possible and better signalling.

GREEN TWYFORD   01/08/2017 at 17:54

With all the comments above one must spare a thought for MARK HOPWOOD, MD GWR. Having been involved with an extended arm government operator in the 70/80s and seen how budgets fluctuated, instructions changed, I think GWR are doing very well. I still feel the overhead is over-engineered and it has done untold damage to the local environment. We have put up with leaves on the line, circuit failures, and now look forward to saggy wires in hot weather, blown down wires after gales etc. 3rd rail is FAR less prone to weather issues, and to block off footpath crossings, level crossings etc is becoming essential. Too bad about electricity at work - they need to be educated. Used to be a chap on the LU that used to work bear handed on the tube rails - and he lived to old age!

John   05/08/2017 at 16:57

Battery trains Look very appealing. Also new battery technology promises to increase energy density x2 and x4. Infrastructure is turning towards EVs, trains will follow. The London Chester train can be a batteries/electric hybrid. The section from Crewe to Chester has low bridges. Batteries can take train along in sections that wires cannot reach. The Wrexham to Liverpool line (Borderlands) can also be hybrid electric/battery trains. The scope all over the country where trains can run off the electrified track onto non-electrified is enormous.

John   06/08/2017 at 08:05

Lee, battery/electric hybrid trains are successful in Japan. The Mayflower line 2.5 years ago had a revenue trial. All appeared successful. The great thing about batteries is the successful R&D in new battery technology. Toyota are to make `glass` batteries which can charge up very quickly - ideal for commuter runs in the UK. These trains can transform the likes of Merseyrail - the line does not reach the Helsby junction because of sparks while running past Stanlow oil refinery. Charging can be at stations as the train halts. These batteries hold at least x 3 the charge. By fitting in a new battery set a train is transformed in the future. Look up a man named Goodenough, who invented the Lith-Ion battery, he has developed the glass battery - solid state. The future is battery in trains, cars and even coastal ship to start with. Cruise liners would be ideal for masses of battery banks dropping in at a port per day. Dockside charging. Modern batteries will stabilise the grid, look up the home Tesla Powerwall. Couple the Powerwall to a roof solar array, and a million of these mean we need not build any more power stations. A grid battery bank is being built at Barrow for peak usage. The Germans have a grid battery bank using used Smart Car EV batteries. The future is battery. Hydrogen? Maybe for large container ships.

Richard Putley   11/08/2017 at 14:55

GREEN TWYFORD - you clearly do not understand that 3rd rail is more EXPENSIVE over long distances than AC because of all the sub stations you need. That's why BR standardized on AC in the 1950s and every one else has too! The Bournemouth electrification nearly didn't happen because of the high cost of doing it on 3rd rail!

Jeffrey Smith   14/08/2017 at 20:41

God,if he is out there,help us.Every time I return from France,Switzerland or Germany and then have to use an ancient HST with slam shut doors and toilets that ,yes,dump on the track,then on occasion have to travel on a Pacer.I feel ashamed of our country. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe the first IEP's came into the country in November 2015.They could be seen at the Hitachi depot outside Paddington.Then in Spring 2016 in item about the costs of idle trains featured on the Jeremy Vine programme,No answers ,but they suddenly disappeared . Visiting Railtex at the NEC a rep expressed the frustration of trying to supply trains to a Government that did not have a joined up policy about anything much,but did excel in Spin,obfuscation ,equivocation ,misleading and wasting taxpayers money.Chris Grayling ,you are the best.Adonis,McLoughlin are in the same league.We are not the fools you take us for.On the evidence of these electrification debacles does anyone see HS2 ever getting north of Birmingham let alone ever finished on time and budget,Chritian Wolmar for one doesn't think so. On 1st of July SNCF opened two new lines,Tours to Bordeaux 302km,186.65 miles.Cost 7.8 billion euros +1.2 billion euros for connecting lines and other infrastructure .25KVAC.Design speed 320kph,(198mph)Cost per km €25.8million. Also Le Mans to Rennes 182 km Cost €2.8 Billion.Cost per km €15.4 million.€600 million for connecting lines etc. Number of daily services planned Tours - Bordeaux 27 pairs. Le Mans- Rennes 20 pairs. NB Other services will use both lines fo all or part of their journey. Chris Grayling can we please hear your Spin on those figures.

Callum   15/08/2017 at 21:12

Am I the only one in thinking that they should use rechargeable batteries instead of diesel engines (bi-mode).

Arthur Coppock   18/08/2017 at 00:59

If there are gaps on the TP electrification then that will preclude electric local stopping trains which would arguably benefit most in terms of acceleration and energy recovery. Also freight would lose out. So unless all rolling stock was bi-mode it is a very one trick pony solution. And even then you have the attendant weight penalties. But after all this is the government which wants to be free from the EU because it has deemed that the EU is holding the UK back from a blistering technological export market but which cannot even electrify its own railways properly or build and operate the trains that will run on them.

J, Leicester   05/09/2017 at 08:54

Callum, I'm afraid that, even with current technological advancements, it's going to be a number of years before a battery will be able to lug a loaded train at intercity speeds all the way from Leeds / Sheffield to Corby on a single charge!

Steve, Sheffield   15/09/2017 at 22:57

I doubt if HS2 will reach anywhere north of Birmingham. So Londoners will benefit again while we northerners will lose out again. The money being spent on HS2 would be better spent on improving and electrifying the existing infrastructure. The problem is HS2 is Cameron's vanity project, the same as the London Olympics was Tony Blair's.

Andrew P. Jones   26/09/2017 at 14:42

With HS2, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds ought to still be electrified, to allow fan-out services. Then the gap can be filled a bit later. Regards Andrew P. Jones

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