Hitachi Rail and Eversholt Rail sign UK deal to develop battery hybrid trains

by John Shepherd
Hybrid trains to use Hyperdrive Innovation's lithium-ion battery tech. Photo: Hitachi Rail
Hitachi Rail and Eversholt Rail have signed an agreement to develop electric-diesel-battery hybrid trains in the UK, to carry passengers between London and Penzance, in South West England.

On non-electrified sections of the Great Western Railway (GWR) route, lithium-ion battery technology will supplement the power of the engines to reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions by more than 20%.

Hitachi Rail said the battery tech will be provided by its battery partner, Hyperdrive Innovation.

The two companies, based in North East England, reached an agreement in July 2020 to create and develop battery packs for mass production at Hyperdrive’s HYVE facility in Sunderland.

Hitachi Rail said the projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – "create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains”.

'Fully-electric battery train goal'

The goal is to create a fully-electric battery intercity train that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance (around 290 miles by road) by the late 2040s, Hitachi Rail said.

GWR’s intercity express train fleet currently calls at 15 non-electrified stations on its journey between Penzance and London, all of which could benefit from trains running on battery-only power.

UK rail minister Chris Heaton Harris said: "Battery-powered trains will support us in our battle against climate change and poor air quality, and improve the overall passenger experience.”

Hyperdrive Innovation has a current manufacturing capacity of up to 30,000 units a year in the UK, producing batteries for a range of industrial sectors.