Diesel-powered UK trains are to be retrofitted with batteries, allowing them to run on low-carbon electricity even on rail lines which have not been electrified.
Currently, almost two-thirds (58 per cent) of the UK’s 32,000km rail network is not electrified despite ambitious decarbonisation targets set by the Government. Broader electrification plans have been scrapped or delayed in recent years, due to financial concerns.
The battery technology, developed by Hitachi Rail, will enable trains to run on the electrified lines and charge simultaneously. Once the train transitions to a line that has not been electrified it can switch to battery power ensuring that low-carbon journeys can continue.
Hitachi Rail, which is working with Hyperdrive Innovation, believes that the technology can be retrofitted to over 400 trains.
They also plan to develop the battery packs in a battery hub in the North East with two manufacturers looking to mass-produce them.
Hitachi believes its fleets of 275 trains are potential early recipients of the batteries for use in the UK, as well as installing them on new metro and intercity trains that will be needed in the coming years to replace ageing diesel fleets.