End of diesel trains as rail firms to switch to battery power

 In News

A plan by the railway industry to go full steam ahead into green travel has been welcomed by Midlands energy expert Ron Fox.

He was commenting on a scheme by rail operators to put battery operated trains on British tracks by 2030 bringing the age of diesel to an end.

“This move should save £3.5 billion and the emissions of 12 million tons of the harmful greenhouse gas carbon dioxide,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.

Although nearly 40 per cent of the network is already electrified for the big inter-city routes along 3,769 miles of track, there was uncertainty when the remaining 60 per cent of rail lines would be updated.

But with battery trains the rest of the electrification will not need to be done now. The trains will be able to take power from the overhead power lines but then switch to a battery when there are no wires.

This will save the industry up to £11 billion as, according to the Railway Industry Association, it costs £6.5 million to electrify a mile of double track railway with overhead power lines because it often involves expensive work on bridges and tunnels.

The battery trains can recharge from the domestic grid rather than relying on high-voltage lines and can be fully charged within 20 minutes.

Already trials have shown that battery trains can travel 86 miles without recharging and can travel at up to 60mph on a hilly route.

“Other advantages,” said Ron, “is the ability to switch between cables and batteries dramatically reduces costs. Also using battery trains means there is no need for unsightly power lines running through our countryside, our national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.”

Already GWR, the West Country operator has announced plans for 100 battery trains for its area and six other companies, Chiltern, East West, Northern, Scots Rail, Transport for Wales and TransPennine Express, who need to replace a total of 1,650 ageing diesel engines with a lifespan of 35 years, are expected to follow suit.

Diesel replaced steam locomotives, with their damaging carbon dioxide emissions, on the UK railways from the 1950s with electrification of the lines beginning in the 1960s. The last steam-hauled trains ran on the UK network in 1968.

“This certainly show the railways are on the right lines in helping the UK in its battle against climate change,” concluded Ron.

For more details on green travel and energy call Ron on 0845 474 6641 or go to www.noreus.co.uk

Caption: On the right lines in the fight against climate change – the battery train. Picture: Wikipedia.

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