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Abellio Greater Anglia Class 379 unit

Network Rail has started trials of its first battery-powered train on a test track in Derby, UK, after completing the retrofitting of the unit.

The on-track trials will culminate into a series of high-speed tests at the Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) in Nottinghamshire at the end of the year.

The project was co-funded by Network Rail and its industry partners Bombardier, Abellio Greater Anglia, FutureRailway and the UK Department for Transport.

Six battery rafts were installed on an Abellio Greater Anglia Class 379 unit at Bombardier’s facility Derby.

The battery rafts equipped to the train unit comprise a battery box, an isolation switch, a power distribution control panel, a battery charging inverter, batteries and a battery monitoring system, all mounted within a bespoke, purpose-built rig.

"Over the next five years, Network Rail has a target to reduce the cost of running UK’s railway network by a further 20%."

Network Rail independently powered electric multiple unit (IPEMU) project senior engineer James Ambrose said: "Over the next five years, Network Rail has a target to reduce the cost of running UK’s railway network by a further 20%.

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"At the same time, we are always looking for ways to make the railway greener too. This project has the potential to contribute significantly towards both those goals.

"Although we have 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."

According to the UK rail infrastructure operator, 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.

Additional battery tests are currently being carried out at the Bombardier facility in Mannheim, Germany.

Image: Abellio Greater Anglia Class 379 unit from the Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU) project. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.