AN Alstom battery-powered Coradia train undertook demonstrations in Saxony, Germany, running from Flöha and Zschopau and then back to Chemnitz on September 7 and will also be used on September 9 to carry passengers as part of the Digital Rail Convention in Annaberg-Buchholz.

The train is due to start operating in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria from the start of the new timetable this December. Alstom says it will be the first battery-powered train approved for regular passenger operation in Germany since the 1960s.

The train was developed at the manufacturer’s Hennigsdorf site and can ran both on overhead ac electrification and battery power.

“Alongside our hydrogen train, this battery-powered drive concept represents another milestone for the market launch of emission-free regional trains in Germany and worldwide,” says Mr Müslüm Yakisan, Alstom president for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The project began in 2016 as a research partnership with the Technical University of Berlin and covers development, approval and operation of battery-powered trains. The overall economic viability of battery operation on main line railways also formed part of the research.

It has since been developed in cooperation with DB Regio, the regional transport authority for Baden-Württemberg, the German National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology and the Technical University of Berlin.

A large proportion of lines currently operated by diesel trains are less than 96km in length. Using battery-powered electric vehicles on these lines avoids major upgrades to existing infrastructure.

“Our considerations have always taken the overall system into account,” says Professor Birgit Milius, doctor of engineering from the Department of Railway Operations and Infrastructure. “Aspects covering the vehicle, operation and infrastructure were analysed under various operating conditions in order to obtain reliable results.”

A contribution of €4m towards the project has been made by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

An order for Coradia Continental EMUs fitted with battery technology has already been place for Central Saxony, with the first trains due to be delivered in 2023.

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