Network Rail’s zero emission, battery-powered train will carry its first passengers this week.
The train authority is undertaking a feasibility study to determine how trains can use energy storage to operate on non-electrified and diesel lines, recharging their batteries at terminal stations. Network Rail hopes that the trial could ultimately result in a fleet of battery-powered trains to replace diesel-powered trains.
The new battery prototype will run in weekday timetable service for five weeks between Harwich International and Manningtree stations in Essex.
Commenting on the new service, Network Rail’s 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.
“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.”
Ambrose continued: “We are always looking for ways to reduce the cost of running the railway and make it greener too. This project has the potential to contribute significantly towards both those goals.”
Rail minister Claire Perry added: “This is a major milestone in this innovative project, and further proof of our commitment to deliver a world-class rail network fit for the 21st century. These trains potentially offer a real alternative where diesel or electrified services aren’t suitable, and I look forward to seeing the results of the trials.”