Battery technology to be trialled on TransPennine Express train in UK first

The UK’s first ever trial of a battery replacing a diesel engine on an intercity train has begun today, in a landmark move from Hitachi Rail and TransPennine Express.

The battery has been retrofitted onto a TransPennine Express ‘Nova 1’ train – i.e., the five-carriage intercity Class 802.

Hitachi Rail says the battery’s impressive energy and power density means trains will be able to achieve the same levels of high-speed acceleration and performance as before, while also bringing significant carbon emissions savings.

On a Hitachi intercity train, experts believe the battery will help cut emissions and fuel costs by up to 30%.

Rail leaders will watch the trial carefully as it is a chance to see real-world evidence for a business case of a 100% battery-electric intercity train.

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

“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.”

TransPennine Express train

The Class 802 units are owned by Angel Trains, which see this collaboration as an important step forward.

Asset management director at Angel Trains, Matthew Poser, explained: “This project represents a significant investment in one of our newest fleets.

“It will both support and draw upon the skilled jobs and expertise at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe facility and enable us to demonstrate how battery retrofit technology can help us decarbonise our railways.”

The battery technology was manufactured in partnership with Turntide Technologies in Sunderland.

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

He continued: “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.”

Other benefits highlighted by Hitachi include reducing noise pollution and improving air quality, as well as cutting infrastructure costs with the reduced need for overhead wires in tunnel sections and over complex junctions

Image credits: Hitachi Rail & Chris Davis


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