Could electric cars power Britain’s railway?


    Engineers at the University of Sheffield have been given £1.5 million to explore the possibility of drawing energy from electric cars parked at stations to power the railway at peak times.

    Named the TransEnergy project, the scheme will see if it is feasible to use electric car batteries to store surplus energy which could then be used by the railway during busy periods – what it describes as a “Road to Rail energy exchange”.

    In theory, drivers could be given free parking at the station in return for the railway using their car as a back-up energy source.Electric car charge shutterstock

    The funding is being provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The University of Sheffield will work in partnership with the the University of Leeds, the University of Southampton and Network Rail.

    Dr Martin Foster, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: “Electric-powered rail travel has helped to reduce pollution and improve the comfort of travellers.

    “Our project will look at how we can meet the demand for more electricity on our railways by investigating innovative ways to store surplus energy.

    “Similar energy storage systems are already being used on the electricity grid during peak times and by translating these to our railways, we could deliver real benefits to both rail companies and consumers, bringing down the costs of travel and improving services.”

    James Ambrose, principal engineer for Network Rail, said: “Network Rail is committed to electrifying more lines in the UK. Our project will be working with rail providers to recommend new approaches that will mean increased efficiency for the industry.”



    1. And the drivers of these cars come back to find their cars do not have enough power to get them home so they then have to use their engine so what is the point

    2. This could be possible, very good idea. The question to think about is how many electric cars are parked at the stations? I understand life of battery is measured on charge cycles and using passenger car batteries will incur cost to Network Rail or TOC or National Grid.

      Rather than using cars, its easier to build a battery storage facility under these car parks which can use solar power (when possible) or main grid to recharge. This battery energy could be then used at peak times.


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