A Greater Anglia Class 379 is to become Britain’s first modern battery-powered train as part of a study into the feasability of extending the technology across the network.
If successful, the trial could offer an alternative to the extensive electrification plans already set out by the UK government.
Network Rail is working alongside manufacturer Bombardier, the Enabling Innovation Team at the RSSB and Greater Anglia to conduct the trial.
The Class 379, which will be fitted with both lithium phosphate and hot sodium nickel salt batteries, will first undergo tests at Old Dalby and then move to an electrified branch line on the Anglia route, depending on the success of the initial trials, with its pantograph down.
Once complete at the end of 2014, the EMU will be stripped of its modifications and returned to regular passenger operation.
The British government has already committed millions of pounds to fund to significant electrification projects around the country, including new wires along the Great Western and Midland mainlines.
Network Rail’s director of network strategy and planning, Richard Eccles, said: “If we can create an energy storage capability for trains, electric traction can be introduced to more parts of the network without the need to necessarily extend the electrification infrastructure.”
Funding for the study will be put forward by the Enabling Innovation Team and the Department for Transport (DfT).
David Clarke, director, Enabling Innovation Team at RSSB, said: “Energy storage on trains is a typical example of a development that’s good for passengers, taxpayers and the long term future of the railway but where it is difficult for individual businesses to make the business case to invest in the technology.
“We see the IPEMU project as a good example of something that will work according to the R&D, but no one will invest in without seeing a full scale demonstrator.
“By supporting this programme, we are helping to take innovation out of the lab and de-risk its potential introduction onto the railway.”
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