Quieter and more efficient than diesel-powered trains
The first battery-powered train to run on Britain’s rail network in more than half a century carries its first passengers this week.
The new train commissioned by Network Rail’s will improve sustainability and reduce the cost of running the railway by 20 per cent over the next five years. According to Network Rail, it could ultimately lead to a fleet of battery-powered trains running on Britain’s rail network which are quieter and more efficient than diesel-powered trains, making them better for passengers and the environment.
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.
Battery locomotives have been used on railways for around 100 years, including in munitions factories during World War 1 to avoid the risk of explosion from sparks emitted by steam locomotives. London Underground currently has a fleet of battery locomotives used on engineering trains when the power is switched off for track maintenance and improvement work.
The IPEMU will operate as part of Abellio Greater Anglia’s fleet between Harwich International and Manningtree from Monday 12 January until Friday 13 February.
The partners working on the IPEMU project are:
- Network Rail
- The Rail Executive arm of the Department for Transport
- Abellio Greater Anglia
Data gathered during the experiment will be used to help the wider rail industry determine what form a future IPEMU will take, be it a straight battery unit or hybrid.
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