Hitachi Rail Begins Testing UK's First Intercity Battery Train

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 28, 2024 00:05 AMNews
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High-speed train passing through a cityscape with tall buildings
Battery-powered train to cut emissions by 30%. Source: unsplash

Hitachi Rail has commenced testing the UK's first intercity battery train. The trial involves a TransPennine Express ‘Nova 1’ train equipped with a battery generating over 700kW of peak power. This innovative trial marks the UK's first instance of replacing a diesel engine with a battery on an intercity train, set to run on TransPennine routes this summer.

The collaboration between TransPennine Express, Angel Trains, and Hitachi Rail is groundbreaking. The battery unit, which can store enough electricity to power over 75 houses for a day, offers high-speed acceleration and performance on par with the diesel engine it replaces. This initiative aims to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency, potentially cutting emissions and fuel costs by up to 30%.

The trial aims to showcase how intercity trains can operate in zero-emission battery mode, enhancing air quality and reducing noise pollution at non-electrified stations. Manufactured by Turntide Technologies in Sunderland, the battery highlights the North East of England’s growing battery sector and the strong engineering alliance between Japan and the UK.

This trial will provide crucial real-world evidence supporting the feasibility of a fully battery-electric intercity train, capable of running up to 100km on battery mode. The expected range indicates that battery technology could soon cover non-electrified segments of intercity routes, reducing the need for overhead wires.

The investment from Angel Trains into Hitachi Rail's product is seen as vital for the North East and the broader rail industry. This trial signifies the importance of private sector investment in cutting-edge technology for the success of UK rail.

Paul Staples of TransPennine Express emphasized the trial’s importance in making rail travel more sustainable and efficient. Matthew Prosser of Angel Trains highlighted the investment's support for skilled jobs and expertise at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe facility. Jim Brewin of Hitachi Rail noted the significant investment in battery technology, showcasing the potential for the rail industry to lower costs and emissions.

The successful testing in Japan and the collaborative effort in the UK rail industry underline the commitment to decarbonizing and modernizing the railways. This development is a promising step towards a greener, more energy-efficient railway system in the UK.

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