Prototype battery-powered train carries passengers for first time

Stephen Kennett • 2degrees • Community manager • News • 14 Jan

The first battery-powered train to run on Britain’s rail network in more than 50 years carries its first passengers this week.

The project aims to demonstrate the viability of an eco-friendly battery-powered train for the twenty-first century and contributes to Network Rail’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, improve sustainability and reduce the cost of running the railway by 20% over the next five years. It could ultimately lead to a fleet of battery-powered trains running on Britain’s rail network which, it’s claimed, are quieter and more efficient than diesel-powered trains.

“The project aims to demonstrate the viability of an eco-friendly battery-powered train for the twenty-first century.”

Following its successful retrofitting and trials at test tracks in Derby and Leicestershire last year by Bombardier, the modified Class 379 Electrostar battery-powered train – also known as an Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU) – will run in weekday timetable service for five weeks between Harwich International and Manningtree stations in Essex.

Network Rail Principal Engineer James Ambrose said: “We’ve made terrific progress with this project so far and seeing the battery-powered train in timetabled service is a huge step forward.”

He added: “After months of engineering and testing, the train is running just as we would like it. We’ll be using this five-week period to gather data on how it handles during passenger service – most travellers will recognise how quiet and smooth the ride is compared to a diesel-powered train.”

Network Rail and its industry partners – including Bombardier, Abellio Greater Anglia, and the Rail Executive arm of the Department for Transport (‎which is co-funding the project through the FutureRailway innovation programme) – recognise the potential for battery-powered trains to bridge gaps between electrified parts of the network and to run on branch lines where it would be too expensive to install overhead electrification.”

Source: 2degrees Network

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