Eversholt Rail has signed an agreement with Vivarail for the development of Class 321 battery electric multiple units (BEMUs).

The companies intend to develop battery power and add range extension to the Class 321 ‘Renatus’ fleet, as part of a £65m investment in AC traction, air conditioning, and upgraded interior. 

Built in 2019, the fleet presently runs on the Greater Anglia network. It will continue to operate until the launch of the new trains is completed.

As per the agreement, the partnership will engage in the development of a design to incorporate battery technology to deliver between 20 miles and 30 miles of self-propulsion.

Operating a fleet on non-electrified or partly electrified routes is expected to enhance the range of modern and low-carbon options to meet passenger demand besides supporting fleet cascades.

Eversholt Rail and Vivarail have pledged to support the UK Government’s goal to decarbonise its rail sector by 2050. They also support the Scottish Government’s commitment to the same by 2035.

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Eversholt Rail client services director Paul Sutherland said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Vivarail on this exciting project to develop our C321 fleet which will support the UK’s decarbonisation targets.

“We have a proud history of innovation and investing in our fleets to meet changing requirements, exploring the viability of integrating battery technology to the Renatus fleet is the natural next step.”

In 2020, Hitachi collaborated with Eversholt Rail on the development of an intercity battery hybrid train.