Unipart to develop electric rail technology

UK manufacturer Unipart has won a share of £9.4m funding from the Department of Transport and Innovate UK to develop zero-emissions rail handling technology.

A pair of TRTs can be used to move any length of rail up to 709ft (216 metres) long. Image: Unipart Rail

The company’s electric Trac Rail Transposer project (TRT-e)  – one of 25 innovative rail projects to win funding through a DfT competition aimed at accelerating innovation in rail –  will be developed in conjunction with battery specialist Hyperbat, Unipart’s joint venture with Williams Advanced Engineering.

Designed by McCulloch Rail and manufactured by Unipart Rail, TRTs are rubber tracked machines which are used to remove and install railway tracks. The machines are claimed to be the safest, most versatile, rail handling systems in use.

With the 2020 First of a Kind award funding, the partnership will work together to replace the current diesel power unit with an electric motor, battery power pack and electronic control system.

According to Unipart Rail, electric technology will enable the TRT to be used more extensively on the rail infrastructure where diesel emissions and noise pollution are a particular problem, for example, in underground systems, tunnels and enclosed stations.

The planned output of the project is a full working prototype, performance-tested, certified and ready to be worked on the UK rail network by McCulloch Rail and demonstrated to potential customers worldwide.