Network Rail trials battery-powered trains

On-track trials have begun with a prototype battery-powered train, the UK's first, at a test track in Derby. If successful, a roll out could mean a significant carbon reduction compared with diesel-powered trains.

Using a Abellio Greater Anglia Class 379 unit, Network Rail, working with industry partners, has installed six battery rafts to the full train, which would usually draw power from overhead cables. Network Rail believes that the battery-powered trains could be used to bridge gaps in otherwise electrified parts of the network, or where it would not be cost-effective to install overhead electrification equipment.

While it’s still “early days” according to the senior engineer leading the project, James Ambrose, the project helps Network Rail to achieve multiple goals, including those around sustainability. “Over the next five years, Network Rail has a target to reduce the cost of running Britain’s railway by a further 20%,” he explained. “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.”

Several types of battery are being tested in the trial, which will culminate in high-speed tests at the Rail innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) in Nottinghamshire later this year.

The partners working on the Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU) project are:


  • Network Rail
  • Department for Treansport
  • FutureRailway
  • Abellio Greater Anglia
  • Bombardier

Read more news about Network Rail’s sustainabilty credentials here.

edie staff

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