Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive Innovation have signed an exclusive agreement to develop battery packs to power zero-emission trains and create a battery hub in the North East.
The two manufacturers will now accelerate the creation of batteries that can be mass-produced to provide emission-free power for hundreds of battery trains across the UK.
With almost two-thirds (58%) of the UK’s 20,000 mile rail network not electrified and with the Government setting ambitious decarbonisation targets, Hitachi Rail analysis estimates the potential market for Hyperdrive and Hitachi’s battery technology is over 400 trains.
The companies said the agreement is an important step towards manufacturing batteries at Hyperdrive’s HYVE facility in Sunderland, and then installing them just 20 miles away at Hitachi Rail’s train-building factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients of the batteries for use in the UK, as well as installing them on new metro and intercity trains that will be needed in the coming years to replace ageing diesel fleets.
Batteries can also be installed onto existing train fleets to extend their range and allow passengers to reach stations on non-electrified branch lines without having to change trains.
Andrew Barr, Hitachi Rail group chief executive, 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 opportunities 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.”
Chris Pennison, Hyperdrive chief executive, said: “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 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.”