HomeBussinessHitachi Rail and TransPennine Express launch 'UK first' battery train trial

Hitachi Rail and TransPennine Express launch ‘UK first’ battery train trial


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Hitachi Rail and TransPennine Express have announced a major milestone in the decarbonisation of the rail sector, having for the first time replaced a diesel engine on a UK intercity train with a battery.

Announced today, the trial will see a battery generating peak power of more than 700kw and storing enough electricity to power more than 75 houses for a day retrofitted onto a five-carriage TransPennine Express ‘Nova 1’ train ahead of a broader rollout on routes in northern England and Scotland this summer.

Manufactured by Turntide Technologies in Sunderland, the battery is predicted to reduce emissions and fuel costs by as much as 30 per cent, deliver the same levels of acceleration and performance, all while being no heavier than the diesel engine it replaced.

The trial seeks to provide real-world evidence to support the business case for a 100 per cent electric intercity train capable of running up to 100km in battery mode. It will also demonstrate how battery technology can cut infrastructure costs by reducing the need for overhead wires in tunnel sections or over complex junctions.

Crucially, the trial will also test how intercity trains can enter and depart non-electrified stations in zero-emission battery mode so as to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution.

“We’re really pleased to be a part of this innovative and critically important trial of battery technology,” said Paul Staples, engineering, safety, and sustainability director at TransPennine Express. “We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and are constantly looking at ways of making rail travel even more sustainable and efficient.

“This trial will allow us to assess the exciting new technology on our Nova 1 train. We’re looking forward to seeing the results and how well the batteries work on our network.”

The development of the battery is the latest example of the Japan-UK engineering alliance, with Hitachi Rail investing more than £15m to co-develop the battery system with Turntide.

Once assembled, the battery was shipped from the UK to Japan where it underwent testing by the same battery train experts who delivered the world’s first passenger battery train in 2016 and helped roll out Europe’s first battery hybrid train in Italy in 2022.

“Collaborating closely with our partners, Angel Trains and TransPennine Express, we are committed to showcasing how the rail industry can significantly lower costs and emissions,” said Jim Brewin, chief director for UK and Ireland at Hitachi Rail. “This is an important next step towards a more energy efficient and greener railway.”

Mark Cox, general manager of Turntide Technologies transport business unit, forecast the clean technology could revolutionise the rail industry around the globe. “We are incredibly proud to be part of this ground-breaking project, co-developing one of the world’s most powerful passenger train batteries with our esteemed partners at Hitachi Rail,” he said. “The successful development and production of this high-performance battery at our Sunderland facility further highlights the key role we play in the UK’s industrial landscape.”

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