New York-based commuter rail system Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has signed an agreement with Alstom to test electric railcars on the Oyster Bay Branch route.

During the initial eight-month analysis, LIRR will test how fast the trains can be recharged, and where recharging stations need to be constructed along the route, as well as other branches.

It will also evaluate the specifications for batteries and where exactly they can be placed aboard M7 cars.

While operating on the electric portions of the line, test trains will run on third rail power and charge the batteries following which the trains will switch over to the battery power for the non-electrified track between East Williston and Oyster Bay.

If the trial is successful, a two-car-long electric train will be retrofitted to operate on battery power without passengers on the Oyster Bay Branch route.

MTA Metro stated that the trial will be the first test of battery-powered commuter railcars in North America and if successful, these railcars will replace the diesel commuter trains, which are being operated on the LIRR or Metro-North Railroad.

LIRR Commuters Council Chair Gerry Bringmann said: “This is another example of the LIRR embracing modern technology to benefit our commuters. This is a potential game-changer for our riders in diesel territory, giving them more opportunities for a one seat ride into NYC.

“It is also particularly fitting to announce this study and the clean air benefits it can bring during Earth Week. It will be good for riders and for the planet.”