Nova 1 battery-fitted train begins trials in the UK

intercity battery trainAn intercity battery train trial started in the UK on May 24  following a collaboration between TransPennine Express, Angel Trains and Hitachi Rail.

The battery, which generates a peak power of more than 700kw, has now been successfully retrofitted onto a TransPennine Express Nova 1 five-car train (intercity Class 802), ahead of the trial on Transpennine routes this summer.

“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,” Paul Staples, Engineering, Safety and Sustainability Director at TransPennine Express said.

This is the first UK trial where a diesel engine is replaced with a battery on an intercity train.

The single battery unit is incredibly powerful, storing enough electricity to power more than 75 houses for a day. This impressive energy and power density will deliver the same levels of high-speed acceleration and performance, while being no heavier than the diesel engine it replaces.

The installation of a battery will reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency. It is predicted to reduce emissions and fuel costs by as much as 30% on a Hitachi intercity train.

Most importantly for passengers, the trial will test how intercity trains can enter, alight and leave non-electrified stations in zero-emission battery mode to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution.

The intercity battery train has been manufactured with Turntide Technologies in Sunderland, utilising the battery sector that has developed in the North East of England.

The trial will provide real-world evidence to inform the business case for a 100% – battery-electric intercity train, capable of running up to 100 km in battery mode. This remarkable range means this battery technology could be deployed to cover the final non-electrified sections of intercity routes in the coming years. It will also demonstrate how battery technology can reduce infrastructure costs by reducing the need for overhead wires in tunnel sections and over complex junctions.

Angel Trains, the owner of the Class 802 units, sees this investment in the Hitachi Rail product as extremely important, with the benefits extending to the North East and the broader rail industry. This type of private sector investment in leading edge technology is critical to the success of UK rail.

“This project represents a significant investment in one of our newest fleets. It will both support and draw upon the skilled jobs and expertise at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe facility and enable us to demonstrate how battery retrofit technology can help us decarbonise our railways,” Matthew Prosser, Asset Management Director at Angel Trains said.

The trial, and the industrial opportunity presented by battery trains, means rail can help grow domestic battery sector.

The development of the battery is an excellent example of Japan-UK engineering alliance, with Hitachi Rail investing more than GBP 15 million to co-develop the battery system with Turntide Technologies in the North East. Once assembled, the battery pack was shipped from the UK to Japan, where it underwent robust testing by Hitachi’s battery train experts

“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,” Jim Brewin, Chief Director UK & Ireland at Hitachi Rail said.

The successful completion of testing in Japan, paved the way for the UK rail industry collaboration, with Angel Trains, TransPennine Express and Hitachi Rail combining forces to help decarbonise and modernise the railways.

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