Cookies and We use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive them.
You can read more about how we use cookies, and turn them off, on this page.


On-track trials of prototype battery-powered train begin

12 August 2014

Britain’s first battery-powered train is being put through its paces in a series of on-track trials – a move which could ultimately lead to a fleet of battery-powered trains running on Britain’s rail network which are quieter and more efficient than diesel-powered trains, making them better for passengers and the environment.


We've successfully completed the retrofitting of our first battery-powered train with six battery rafts and have now embarked upon a programme of trials at a test track in Derby using an Abellio Greater Anglia Class 379 unit which normally operates using electricity drawn from overhead power lines. The tests will culminate with a series of high-speed tests at the Rail Innovation and Development Centre in Nottinghamshire later this year.

The battery rafts fitted to the Class 379 unit contain a battery box, isolation switch, power distribution control panel, battery charging inverter, batteries and battery monitoring system, all mounted within a bespoke, purpose-built rig. Their creation follows the successful testing of several types of battery technologies, including lithium iron magnesium and hot sodium nickel salt.

Additional battery tests are now underway at the Bombardier Mannheim facility in Germany.

Cost effective and sustainable

Although the project is in its very early stages, we and our partners believe battery-powered trains could be used to bridge gaps in otherwise electrified parts of the network or be used on branch lines where it would not be cost effective to install overhead electrification equipment, bringing the additional benefits of making the new trains cost-effective and sustainable.

“Although we’ve retrofitted the Abellio Greater Anglia Class 379 unit with lithium iron magnesium batteries, we continue to test other possible solutions so we can gather as much information and comparison data as possible for future development.”

James Ambrose, senior engineer, Network Rail 

Independently powered electric multiple unit

Data gathered during the experiment will be used to determine what form an independently powered electric multiple unit will take, be it a straight battery unit or hybrid.

Any future independently powered electric multiple would most likely be designed as a new train and not an adapted unit to minimise energy consumption, but this project will also provide useful information for retrofit.

Industry partners

Our industry partners include:

  • Bombardier
  • Abellio Greater Anglia
  • FutureRailway
  • Department for Transport who are co-funding