UK’s first intercity battery train trialled to cut emissions and fuel costs

The UK’s first intercity battery train is being trialled to reduce emissions and fuel costs.

Manufacturer Hitachi Rail said one of three diesel engines on a TransPennine Express (TPE) Nova 1 train has been replaced by a battery.

Testing of the modified train started on Friday, with trial runs on TPE routes due to take place this summer.

Hitachi Rail expects the battery to deliver the same levels of acceleration and performance as the diesel engine it replaced, while adding no additional weight.

The company believes emissions and fuel costs will be reduced by up to 30%.

The trial will examine how intercity trains can enter and leave non-electrified stations in zero-emission battery mode, boosting air quality and reducing noise.

The scheme is a collaboration between rolling stock company Angel Trains, TPE, US-based tech company Turntide Technologies and Hitachi Rail.

It is hoped battery technology could reduce infrastructure costs by limiting the need for overhead electric wires to be installed in tunnels and over complex junctions.

The UK Government has set a target of phasing out diesel-only trains by 2040.

TPE engineering, safety and sustainability director Paul Staples said: “We’re really pleased to be a part of this innovative and critically important trial of battery technology.

“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.”

Hitachi Rail chief director for the UK and Ireland Jim Brewin said: “Hitachi has invested more than £15 million in research and development to deliver a UK first in battery train technology.

“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.

“This is an important next step towards a more energy efficient and greener railway.”

A 12-month trial of a rapid-charging battery train which could help end diesel operations on branch lines was launched by Great Western Railway in west London in March.