Battery train trial service launched

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Photo: Network Rail.

Britain’s first modern battery-powered train has entered service as part of Abellio Greater Anglia’s fleet.

The trial service, which is being carried out between Harwich International and Manningtree from Monday, January 12, until Friday, February 13, will demonstrate the viability of operating battery-powered rail vehicles on branch lines where electrification works wouldn’t be cost effective.

Known as the Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU), Bombardier has retrofitted a standard Class 379 Electrostar with lithium iron magnesium batteries to see if the system is capable of reliably running a regular passenger service without drawing electricity from overhead lines.

Project partners Bombardier, Abellio Greater Anglia, FutureRailway and the Rail Executive arm of the Department for Transport have launched the emperimental service following a programme of testing completed in the East Midlands last year.

Network Rail principal engineer James Ambrose said: “We’ve made terrific progress with this project so far and seeing the battery-powered train in timetabled service is a huge step forward.

“After months of engineering and testing, the train is running just as we would like it. We’ll be using this six-week period to gather data on how it handles during passenger service – most travellers will recognise how quiet and smooth the ride is compared to a diesel-powered train.”

He added: “We are always looking for ways to reduce the cost of running the railway and make it greener too. This project has the potential to contribute significantly towards both those goals.”

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