Siemens battery train

Going green could save Britain’s railways £3.5 billion

Siemens Mobility has calculated that its new battery bi-mode trains could save £3.5 billion for Britain’s railway and save 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 35 years.

The trains would be powered by overhead lines on already-electrified routes, before switching to battery power where there are no wires.

This means that overhead line equipment (OLE) would only need to be installed on small sections of routes and at certain stations, making it much quicker and less disruptive than replacing diesel trains with full electrification.

The OLE, where required, could also be installed rapidly with Siemens Mobility’s Rail Charging Converter (RCC), which makes it possible to plug directly into the domestic grid. This could slash delivery times for OLE from seven years to 18 months.

Sambit Banerjee, Joint CEO for Siemens Mobility UK & Ireland said:

“Britain should never have to buy a diesel passenger train again.”

"Our battery trains, which we’d assemble in our new Goole factory in Yorkshire, can replace Britain’s aging diesel trains without us having to electrify hundreds of miles more track in the next few years.

“So, on routes from Perth to Penzance, passengers could be travelling on clean, green battery-electric trains by the early 2030s. And the best thing is that this would save the country £3.5bn over 35 years.”

Battery train infographic

The trains would be assembled at Siemens Mobility’s new Train Manufacturing Facility in Goole, and could replace aging diesel fleets at a number of operators including Chiltern, Great Western Railway, Northern, ScotRail, TransPennine Express and Transport for Wales. East West Rail also needs to secure new trains.

Siemens Mobility has conducted extensive modelling to compare battery bi-mode trains to diesel- or part-diesel-powered trains. The research shows that Siemens Mobility’s battery bi-mode trains would only require 20-30% of a line to be electrified.

The trains would use a lithium titanate oxide battery, capable of recharging to full capacity within 20 minutes while moving along the electrified sections or charging whilst stopped at stations.

Siemens Mobility has reviewed routes across the country and identified points where discontinuous electrification OLE could be installed, powered by Siemens Mobility’s RCCs, enabling battery charging.

If the seven named operators were to take this approach, they would save Britain’s railways an estimated £3.5 billion over the next 35 years, and diesel-only trains could have disappeared from Britain’s railways by 2040.

Over the same period, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 12 million tonnes, which is the same as removing 80,000 cars from the road or planting a forest the size of the Isle of Man.

Image credit: Siemens

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