Climate Action

Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive agreement opens way for battery trains across Britain

Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive Innovation have signed an exclusive agreement to develop batteries to power zero-emission trains and create a battery hub in the Northeast.

  • 07 July 2020
  • Joana Costa Figueira

Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive Innovation have signed an exclusive agreement to develop batteries to power zero-emission trains and create a battery hub in the Northeast.

The companies will now be mass-producing batteries to in order to provide emission-free power for hundreds of battery trains across the UK.

Hitachi Rail, a Japanese global rail provider has delivered battery trains across the world. Most notably, in 2016, Hitachi introduced one of the world’s first regional battery trains in Japan.

Hitachi Rail estimates that there is a potential market of over 400 trains for Hyperdrive and Hitachi’s battery technology. Currently, almost 58 percent of the UK’s 20,000-mile rail network is not electrified.

In an analysis conducted by Hitachi, 275 trains were identified as potential early recipients for the batteries for use in the UK, as well as installing them in underground and intercity trains in the coming years.

Advances in battery technology has allowed for the cost and weight of batteries to reduce while increasing its power density. The ease of integration on trains means the range and recharging of battery trains will only improve, meeting the demands of different profiles of rail journeys.

Battery trains produce no emissions and are far quieter, offering passengers cleaner air in stations, less noise disruption and a carbon-free way to travel. Installing batteries on to existing fleets can also extend their range and allow passengers to reach stations on non-electrified branch lines without having to change trains.

Andrew Barr, Group CEO, Hitachi Rail said: “Battery trains can play a vital role in improving the air we breathe, tackling climate change and providing modern, high performing rail service – all things we know passengers want to see.”

“The partnership with Hyperdrive creates shovel-ready opportunity for new battery trains to be ordered now. As well as new trains, this is also a window of opportunity to cut carbon and supercharge a green recovery in the North East and across the UK,” said Barr.

Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi, said: “An emission-free public transport system is vital if we’re to build a stronger, greener economic recovery that spreads prosperity and opportunity across the UK.”

By establishing the UK’s first independent battery manufacturing facility in the Northeast production costs will go down while offering domestic production of batteries for the rail, automotive, construction and energy sectors.

Chris Pennison, CEO of Hyperdrive said: “Our partnership with Hitachi will secure major investment and jobs in the North East, reinforcing the UK’s battery supply chain and keeping the country on track to reach net-zero by 2050.”

This partnership comes as the UK government pushes to become net-zero in accordance to the Paris Agreement.

“To date, only 42% of UK railways are electrified, with British trains using 469 million litres of diesel each year, emitting over 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 annually. The partnership underpins the vision that the rail industry can be a major contributor to the UK government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 and strengthens the case for home-grown innovation to be at the forefront of the UK’s clean growth strategy,” said Pennison.