Hitachi's Brand New Battery Technology to be Trialled on TransPennine Train

MRT Online Desk Posted on: 2024-05-24 16:45:00 Viewer: 573 Comments: 0 Country: United Kingdom City: London

Hitachi's Brand New Battery Technology to be Trialled on TransPennine Train

London, United Kingdom (Metro Rail Today): In a groundbreaking development for the UK's rail industry, the first-ever trial to replace a diesel engine with a battery on an intercity train has begun. This pioneering effort is a collaboration between Angel Trains, TransPennine Express, Turntide Technologies, and Hitachi Rail, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards more sustainable and efficient rail travel.

The First of Its Kind

This innovative trial represents the first instance in the UK where a diesel engine has been swapped out for a battery on an intercity train. The retrofitting process, which commenced earlier today, involves a powerful battery unit successfully installed on a TransPennine Express 'Nova 1' train, a five-carriage intercity Class 802. This trial is set to take place on TransPennine routes over the summer.

Collaborative Efforts

The collaborative effort between TransPennine Express, Angel Trains, and Hitachi Rail is a testament to the potential of public-private partnerships in advancing rail technology. The battery unit, developed by Turntide Technologies in Sunderland, showcases the innovative spirit of the North East’s supply chain. This high-performance battery generates a peak power of more than 700 kW, demonstrating its capability to match the high-speed acceleration and performance of the diesel engine it replaces, without any additional weight.

Environmental and Economic Benefits

The installation of this advanced battery technology is expected to bring about significant environmental and economic benefits. Predictions indicate that emissions and fuel costs could be reduced by as much as 30% on a Hitachi intercity train. This reduction is a crucial step towards achieving the UK’s net-zero targets, as the rail industry seeks to minimize its carbon footprint.

Improving Air Quality and Reducing Noise Pollution

For passengers, the benefits extend beyond cost savings and environmental impact. The trial will explore how intercity trains can operate in zero-emission battery mode when entering, alighting, and departing from non-electrified stations. This capability is expected to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution, enhancing the overall travel experience.

Technical Specifications and Capabilities

The battery unit developed by Turntide Technologies is a marvel of modern engineering. With enough electricity storage to power more than 75 houses for a day, its energy and power density are remarkable. This battery technology is poised to revolutionize rail travel, making it more sustainable and efficient.

Range and Performance

One of the standout features of this battery technology is its impressive range. It can enable trains to run up to 100 km in battery mode, covering the final non-electrified sections of intercity routes. This capability not only reduces the need for extensive infrastructure investments, such as overhead wires in tunnel sections and complex junctions but also showcases the potential for widespread adoption in various rail networks.

Strategic Importance and Future Prospects

Angel Trains, the owner of the Class 802 units, views this investment as a critical step forward for the UK rail industry. The trial underscores the importance of private sector investment in cutting-edge technology, which is vital for UK rail's continued success and modernization.

Industrial and Economic Impact

The trial and the broader industrial opportunity it represents highlight the role rail can play in fostering the domestic battery sector. Paul Staples, Engineering, Safety, and Sustainability Director at TransPennine Express, emphasized the significance of this trial, noting its potential to enhance the sustainability and efficiency of rail travel.

Supporting Local Expertise

Matthew Prosser, Asset Management Director at Angel Trains, highlighted the project’s support for skilled jobs and expertise at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe facility. This investment is seen as a demonstration of how battery retrofit technology can help decarbonize railways, making the industry more environmentally friendly.

Hitachi Rail’s Global Vision

Hitachi Rail has been at the forefront of battery train technology, investing over £15 million in research and development. This project is a continuation of Hitachi’s global efforts to lower costs and emissions in the rail industry.

Japan-UK Engineering Alliance

The battery unit was developed through a Japan-UK engineering alliance, with Hitachi Rail and Turntide Technologies co-developing the system. After initial assembly in the UK, the battery pack was shipped to Japan for rigorous testing by Hitachi’s experts. This successful testing paved the way for the UK rail industry collaboration, which aims to modernize and decarbonize the railways.

Jim Brewin, Chief Director UK & Ireland at Hitachi Rail, said: “Hitachi has invested more than £15 million in research and development to deliver a ‘UK first’ in battery train technology. 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.”

A Step Towards Global Decarbonization

The successful trial of this battery technology could have far-reaching implications beyond the UK. Hitachi Rail’s ambition is to install this battery on trains worldwide, potentially creating a significant UK export and enhancing global energy efficiency.

Global Impact and Future Development

Thousands of diesel-powered trains around the world need to be decarbonized to meet global net-zero targets. The ability to replace diesel engines with powerful batteries offers a low-cost pathway to achieving this goal. In Italy, Hitachi’s Masaccio battery hybrid train has already cut CO2 emissions by 50% compared to its diesel counterparts, showcasing the potential of this technology.

The trial of battery technology on TransPennine Express trains marks a significant leap forward for the UK rail industry. This pioneering project not only underscores the potential for reducing emissions and fuel costs but also highlights the collaborative efforts of industry leaders like Angel Trains, TransPennine Express, Turntide Technologies, and Hitachi Rail.

Mark Cox, General Manager of Turntide Technologies transport business unit said: "We are incredibly proud to be part of this ground-breaking project, co-developing one of the world's most powerful passenger train batteries with our esteemed partners at Hitachi Rail. The successful development and production of this high-performance battery at our Sunderland facility further highlights the key role we play in the UK’s industrial landscape. We believe this clean technology will revolutionise the rail industry, not only in the UK but around the globe.”

As the rail industry evolves, this trial will provide invaluable real-world data to inform the development of fully battery-electric intercity trains. The implications for environmental sustainability, economic efficiency, and passenger experience are profound. With successful trials and potential global deployment, this battery technology could revolutionize rail travel, making it cleaner, quieter, and more efficient.


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