21 FEBRUARY 2022


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Article from BTNews 21 FEBRUARY 2022

Battery driven train *

It may be some way off but trains, driven by battery power only, look like they are on their way.

Great Western Railway (GWR) has signed a deal with manufacturer Vivarail to trial new battery-charging technology on its network, paving the way for battery-only trains to run in regular passenger service in the future.

The trial, supported by Network Rail, will take place on the Greenford in west London branch line later this year and test Vivarail’s trackside fast-charging equipment in an operational setting for the first time.

It is hoped that the project will demonstrate that the equipment works safely and reliably in a ‘real-world’ environment.

The use of batteries for extended operation has typically been constrained by their range and meant widespread implementation has, until now, not been feasible. Fast Charge equipment will be installed at West Ealing Station later this year and tested with Vivarail’s battery-only Class 230 train, first showcased at COP26 last year.

The train has a range of up to 62 miles on battery power, recharging in only ten minutes using the Fast Charge system in off-network tests.  When the train arrives at a station it connects automatically to the Fast Charge and the batteries receive charge while the train is prepared for its next journey.

Testing on the short Greenford branch line supports the Government and wider rail industry’s ambition to move towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The trial is supported by £2.15m funding from the Department for Transport’s Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline (RNEP).



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Edward Harrison, England/Yeovil

There are overhead wires through West Ealing station; that's true. However, they won't be used for this experiment any more than the 4th rail electrifcation used by LT at the other end of this short branch. A proprietary charging system taht is unique to these ex ditrict Line/rebuilt by Vivarail trains and will be installed at the dedicated branch line platform.

Andrew Sharp, United Kingdom

Fortunately there are already overhead wires which will do the trick on that line! 60 miles (100km) will cover quite a few branch lines, with charging points at each end.

John Jones, West Ham

It will take a big battery to get from London to Edinburgh in one charge!