Hitachi Rail has signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation to develop battery packs to power zero-emission trains.

This agreement is also expected to create a battery hub in the North-East of the UK.

The two companies will boost the manufacture of batteries capable of being mass-produced, which will offer emission-free power for battery trains in the UK.

Around 58% of the entire 20,000-mile rail network in the UK not electrified and the UK Government has set ‘ambitious decarbonisation goals’.

Hitachi Rail expects that the potential market for the battery technology is around 400 trains.

The batteries will be manufactured at Hyperdrive’s HYVE facility in Sunderland and installed at Hitachi Rail’s Newton Aycliffe factory, which is located 20 miles away.

Hitachi Rail’s fleets of 275 trains are identified as initial potential recipients of the batteries. They may also be installed on the new metro and intercity trains that will replace the diesel fleets.

Battery trains are quieter than traditional trains and offer cleaner air to passengers in the stations, along with reduced noise pollution and a carbon-free travel mode.

Battery installation on the current fleets is expected to increase the range and help passengers reach the destinations on a non-electrified branch without changing trains.

The widespread implementation of battery train technology is said to be a boost to the industry. This will create a market for Hyperdrive to boost its manufacturing capability to around 30,000 battery packs annually.

Hitachi Rail group CEO Andrew Barr said: “Battery trains can play a vital role in improving the air we breathe, tackling climate change and providing modern, high performing rail service – all things we know passengers want to see.

“The partnership with Hyperdrive creates a shovel-ready opportunity for new battery trains to be ordered now. As well as new trains, this is also a window of opportunity to cut carbon and supercharge a green recovery in the North East and across the UK.”

Hyperdrive CEO Chris Pennison said: “We’re delighted to bring our expertise and experience as a trusted electrification partner to a new industry, assisting an innovative organisation like Hitachi, as it modernises and decarbonises UK rail networks.

“Our partnership with Hitachi will secure major investment and jobs in the North East, reinforcing the UK’s battery supply chain and keeping the country on track to reach net-zero by 2050.”

Last month, Hitachi Rail commenced the construction of five electric East Coast Trains at its Newton Aycliffe factory.