THE first trial of battery traction in British inter-city operation began on May 24, using a TransPennine Express (TPE) class 802/2 train, which Hitachi Rail has equipped with a single battery unit developed by Turntide Technologies.

Also taking part in the trial is rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains, which owns the TPE class 802/2 bi-mode fleet built by Hitachi Rail.

One of the three diesel engines on the five-car class 802/2 has been replaced with a battery with a peak power rating of over 700kW. Hitachi Rail says this power density will deliver the same train performance while being no heavier than the diesel engine it replaces.

The Hitachi Rail battery system is modular, and can be scaled up or down depending on the performance requirements of individual routes.

Compared with a standard class 802/2 with three diesel engines, replacing one with a battery is expected to reduce emissions and cut fuel costs by up to 30%, based on 2022 fuel prices and not taking into account potential increases.

Underfloor battery installation underway at Newton Aycliffe. Photo Credit: Hitachi Rail

The trial underway this summer at TPE will also test how the tri-mode class 802 performs when stopping at and accelerating away from stations on non-electrified routes in zero-emission battery mode, with the potential to improve local air quality and reduce noise pollution.

Hitachi Rail says that the trial will also provide real-world evidence to inform the business case for a 100% battery-electric inter-city train, capable of running up to 100km in battery mode.

This would enable deployment on non-electrified sections of the inter-city network in Britain over the coming years, also minimising the cost of electrification projects by reducing the need for overhead wires in tunnels and over complex junctions.

Hitachi Rail has been co-developing the new battery since 2020 with Turntide Technologies in northeast England. Once assembled by Turntide, the battery pack was shipped for testing by Hitachi in Japan.

The pack then returned to Britain where engineering work for the project has been undertaken at the Hitachi Rail manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe in northeast England.

“Hitachi has invested more than £15m in research and development to deliver a UK first in battery train technology,” says Mr Jim Brewin, chief director for UK and Ireland at Hitachi Rail.