TransPennine Express kicks off first intercity battery trial

A TransPennine Express ‘Nova 1’ train has been retrofitted with a battery system predicted to reduce emissions on routes this summer by around 30 per cent.

Chris Davis Photography

The project is a collaboration between Hitachi Rail, TransPennine Express and Angel Trains. Claimed to be the first intercity battery train in the UK, the five-carriage intercity Class 802 is a diesel/electric hybrid, with the battery producing peak power of more than 700 kW. According to information from Hitachi Rail, the single battery unit is estimated to have a capacity of around 750kWh, though the exact figure is yet to be confirmed. 

Hitachi Rail says the trial will provide real-world evidence to inform the business case for a 100 per cent battery-electric intercity train, capable of running up to 100km in battery mode. This range would allow battery technology to cover the final non-electrified sections of Britain’s intercity routes in the coming years. Battery trains or battery-electric hybrids could also offer reduced infrastructure costs versus full electrification, by reducing the need for overhead wires in tunnel sections and over complex junctions.

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

“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.”

Manufactured with Turntide Technologies in Sunderland, the battery unit is said to have an equivalent weight to the diesel engine it is replacing on the Class 802 train and will be capable of delivering the same levels of acceleration. While the Nova 1’s remaining diesel engine will do the bulk of the intercity work, the battery will be used for station arrivals and departures, cutting both noise and air pollution.

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

“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.”