The Anonymous Widower

Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Engineer.

This is the introductory sub-title.

Hyperdrive Innovation and Hitachi Rail are to develop battery packs to power trains and create a battery hub in the North East of England.

The article gives this information.

  • Trains can have a range of ninety kilometres, which fits well with Hitachi’s quoted battery range of 55-65 miles.
  • Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients.

Hitachi have also provided an  informative video.

At one point, the video shows a visualisation of swapping a diesel-engine for a battery pack.

As a world-class computer programmer in a previous life, I believe that it is possible to create a battery pack, that to the train’s extremely comprehensive computer, looks like a diesel-engine.

So by modifying the train’s software accordingly, the various power sources of electrification, diesel power-packs and battery packs can be used in an optimum manner.

This would enable one of East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains, to be fitted with a mix of diesel and battery packs in their four positions under the train.

Imagine going between London and Sheffield, after the High Speed Two electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield has been erected.

  • Between St. Pancras and Market Harborough power would come from the electrification.
  • The train would leave the electrified section with full batteries
  • At all stations on the route, hotel power would come from the batteries.
  • Diesel power and some battery power would be used between stations. Using them together may give better performance.
  • At Clay Cross North Junction, the electrification would be used to Sheffield.

For efficient operation, there would need to be electrification or some form of charging at the Sheffield end of the route. This is why, I am keen that when High Speed Two is built in the North, that the shsared section with the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, should be built early.

Hitachi have said that these trains will have four diesel engines. I think it will more likely be two diesel engines and two batteries.

The World’s First Battery-Electric Main Line

I suspect with electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, that a train fitted with four batteries, might even be able to run on electric power only on the whole route.

In addition, if electrification were to be erected between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations, all three Northern destinations would become electric power only.

The Midland Main Line would be the first battery electric high speed line in the world!

Hitachi On Hydrogen Trains

The press release about the partnership between Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation is on this page on the Hitachi web site.

This is a paragraph.

Regional battery trains produce zero tailpipe emission and compatible with existing rail infrastructure so they can complement future electrification. At the moment, battery trains have approximately 50% lower lifecycle costs than hydrogen trains, making battery the cheapest and cleanest alternative zero-emission traction solution for trains.

I have ridden in two battery-electric trains and one hydrogen-powered train.

I would rate them out of ten as follows.

It’s not that the iLint is a bad train, as the power system seems to work well, but the passenger experience is nowhere near the quality of the two battery trains.

In my view, battery vehicles are exceedingly quiet, so is this the reason?

On the other hand, it could just be poor engineering on the iLint.


This is as very big day in the development of zero- and low-carbon trains in the UK.

July 6, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Bombardier and Hitachi have announced simultaneously a huge commitment to battery trains. They know what way the DfT is going. Hitachi have to do something as they lost many tenders, even the local one a T&W Metro. Their trains are lacking in many respects to the opposition.

    Fast mainline trains can be run on battery for short sections for sure. Ugly complex wires, which are expensive to maintain, at station throats can be eliminated and also wires under bridges and in tunnels, if all trains have battery packs. The battery packs also give a ‘get me home’ capability.

    Comment by John | July 7, 2020 | Reply

    • John, what announcement from Bombardier are you referring to? The Hitachi one has been widely reported, but I’ve seen nothing recently from Bombardier. The last I heard from their large trial in Germany (Talent 3) was they were so behind on Talent 2 orders they had to put all their resources into that and delay the introduction of the Talent 3.

      Comment by Peter Robins | July 7, 2020 | Reply

      • Daily Telegraph reported Bombardier.

        Comment by John | July 7, 2020

      • do you mean their MOU with Leclanche from last October? That was reported in the Telegraph as being for the UK, but in fact was a global agreement not specific to the UK.

        I believe the EU is due to pronounce in the next week or two on Alstom’s acquisition of Bombardier Rail, so we’ll see what direction A/B takes if that goes through.

        Comment by Peter Robins | July 7, 2020

  2. I think Stadler have got metros outside London sewed up. The Class 80x are nice trains, but Greater Anglia’s 745s are better.

    I agree about wires. I have read somewhere that Network Rail and Bombardier like battery trains in depots and sidings, as they cut serious accidents to staff and tresspassers.

    Comment by AnonW | July 7, 2020 | Reply

    • All Merseyrail Stadler 777s will have a small shunting battery pack. Full battery operation up to 5 tons of battery.

      Comment by John | July 7, 2020 | Reply

      • Umm thats interesting as it does away with conductor rails in the main depot areas which are high risk for staff. Wonder if ORR would accept 3rd rail electrification that was kept clear of platforms for extensions based on this?

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | August 23, 2020

      • Some of the statements from Bombardier and Network Rail, when they were experimenting with the Class 379 BEMU indicated that safety was one of the main objectives.

        Comment by AnonW | August 23, 2020

  3. I see Snowdon Railway now has diesel-battery hybrids

    Comment by Peter Robins | July 7, 2020 | Reply

  4. Hydrogen fuel cell trains make sense in storing wasted electricity. The energy is stored in hydrogen. They make sense in large trucks, buses, trains and ships.

    Comment by John | July 7, 2020 | Reply

  5. I agree with you.

    But I do wonder, there’s a design problem with making a hydrogen multiple unit, as Alstom seem very quiet on news about the Breeze. Could it be that the restricted UK gauge blows all the economics. As Hitachi are saying and Bombardier proved with the Class 379 train, battery trains are a practical proposition and better value.

    I think that hydrogen locomotives may be a practical proposition, as they have more space they can use.

    Comment by AnonW | July 7, 2020 | Reply

    • take a look at a ‘rail natter’ with Mike Muldoon of Alstom. The slide around 1.01.00 shows that they expect to be testing the first unit 2022, with a fleet ready in 2023. But, if you follow the asterisk, it says ‘subject to contract’: for this to happen, they need firm orders. In addition, the trains are no use without a supply of H. Another slide states that a fleet of 10 trains needs >3 tonnes of H per day, so this capacity needs to be built as well.

      Batteries are deployable much more quickly, but Hitachi et al can also do nothing without firm orders. Atm it isn’t even clear who’s going to be running the trains, let alone responsible for replacing diesel. This is a political/management issue, not a technical issue.

      Comment by Peter Robins | July 7, 2020 | Reply

    • There was to be a hydrogen fuel cell train trial on the Liverpool-Chester via Runcorn line. It passes Alstom’s facility on the Liverpool border with hydrogen supplied from nearby Stanlow. Maybe Covid has delayed the trial.

      Merseyrail are to trial battery-electric class 777 trains on Liverpool-Preston via Ormskirk and Liverpool-Helsby via Ellesmere Port. Covid may delay this as well. I can’t see why they are trialling the battery trains as they are proven in other parts of the world. Mature technology.

      Liverpool Central-Preston;
      Liverpool Central-Wigan via Kirkby;
      Liverpool Central-Helsby via Ellesmere Port;
      Liverpool Central-Warrington;

      These services can be up and running within months with only a charging facility at the terminal needing construction, except Helsby. Also, Helsby trains do not need 5 ton batteries. Just get the rolling stock. Branding of stations, and step free access can come later. The above services will just be extensions of existing services, but adding so much value.

      A Wigan to Southport 777 battery service can be added, but that is outside Merseyrail’s remit.

      Comment by John | July 7, 2020 | Reply

      • There is certainly hydrogen in the INEOS factory at Runcorn as Ryse have hired Sutton to move it to London for the buses.

        I know it well, as around 1970, I worked in the then ICI hydrogen factory.

        Comment by AnonW | July 7, 2020

      • I don’t think it’s that simple. There need to be new operating procedures, staff have to be trained in both new equipment and new routes, paths organised with NR, Plus they have to work out how many battery-fitted units they need, and then organise that with Stadler. AIUI, atm they have 1 unit on order (no 6 in the pipeline IIRC), with an option for several more. I’m also not sure whether approvals from RSSB etc are needed. I would imagine they’ll phase it in over several years.

        Comment by Peter Robins | July 7, 2020

  6. There has been government money going into that area recently and upgrades at Darlington and Middlesbrough stations have been announced. Ferryhill station and possible reopening of the Leamside and Hartlepool and Ferryhill routes have been mentioned. As you say, all it needs is trains. Remember too, that the mayor of Teesside is Conservative.

    Planning permission has been obtained for the hydrogen depot. Could it be, that as Birmingham University have already developed a hydrogen train and now have a grant to productionise it, that they now are ahead of Alstom in the hydrogen race?

    Comment by AnonW | July 7, 2020 | Reply

    • don’t think so. As Mike Muldoon points out in that video, the 799 is just a demonstrator. The repeated delays with the 769 do not inspire confidence in Porterbrook’s ability to ramp up production any time soon. Alstom OTOH already has the ability to mass-produce hydrogen trains. If their acquisition of Bombardier goes ahead, that will give them facilities in the UK they can easily retool or whatever is necessary to produce hydrogen-powered units, refurbished or new. To put it another way, if you were in charge of train procurement, who would you talk with?

      John comments on the reported trial of the Breeze. AIUI, this was a proposal from Alstom that was not taken up by TfW. I don’t understand this. None of the Welsh rural lines is going to be electrified any time soon, the distances are too great for batteries, leaving hydrogen as the only decarbonised possibility (with current technology). I don’t understand why they are spending money on new DMUs, given expected train life of 30 years or so and the goal of decarbonising within 20 years or earlier if possible.

      Comment by Peter Robins | July 8, 2020 | Reply

  7. I agree with you about the Welsh DMUs. And what makes it worst, is that they’re diesel-mechanical and have a noisy transmission.

    I also think, a lot of the Welsh routes can be handled by a battery train, with a range of 55 miles and innovative charging.

    Hitachi’s proposals have enough range to go from London to Swansea with zero carbon, provided you can charge the train in Swansea.

    Comment by AnonW | July 8, 2020 | Reply

  8. getting back to the original post, I fully agree this is a significant announcement from Hitachi – they’re obviously confident that batteries can power the AT-300s. But I don’t think the battery option is much use on the MML without further electrification, which would probably take a year or two even if started straightaway. Batteries should be able to get you from Market H to Leicester, but none of the existing services terminate at Leicester, so you still need diesel for the rest. Batteries can power lines like Didcot-Oxford or into Bristol TM, but those units are already in operation and would have to be recalled to be fitted with batteries.

    ISTM a better option is the WCML Chester service (and not just because I live there). Batteries should easily be able to manage Crewe-Ctr. One of the ordered bi-modes could be equipped with them, and delivered early, tested, and if successful all the units for the Chester service could be battery-electric rather than diesel bi-mode. It may be possible for batteries to cover Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury too.

    Comment by Peter Robins | July 8, 2020 | Reply

  9. right on cue, Vivarail have just posted Interestingly, they’re saying their power units could be installed on trains other than the 230.

    Comment by Peter Robins | July 8, 2020 | Reply

  10. I do wonder if the ORR are up to their old tricks again. They took ages to accept that tram-trains were a good idea in Sheffield, which I think has been proven to be true. Does somebody think that hydrogen trains will be mini-Hindenburgs going all over the place and does this explain why Alstom are taking a long time?

    They seem to have way-out ideas in a lot of places. I’m surprised they haven’t told Network Rail to convert all third rail electrification to overhead.

    Comment by AnonW | July 8, 2020 | Reply

  11. […] on from Hitachi’s announcement on Monday, that I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, it does appear that battery trains will be arriving soon in a station near […]

    Pingback by Vivarail And Hitachi Seem To Be Following Similar Philosophies « The Anonymous Widower | July 8, 2020 | Reply

  12. […] Hitachi have charged the rules on electrification, by the announcement of the development of battery electric trains in collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains. […]

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  13. […] Hitachi have changed the rules on electrification, by the announcement of the development of battery electric trains in collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains. […]

    Pingback by Battery Electric Class 800 Trains Between London Paddington And Bristol Temple Mead Stations « The Anonymous Widower | July 23, 2020 | Reply

  14. […] They have also signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation to develop battery packs for their Class 80x trains, as I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains. […]

    Pingback by Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints « The Anonymous Widower | August 28, 2020 | Reply

  15. […] I described these trains in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains. […]

    Pingback by Hitachi Targets Export Opportunities From Newton Aycliffe « The Anonymous Widower | October 5, 2020 | Reply

  16. […] In July 2020, I wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains. […]

    Pingback by East West Railway Company To Start Second Phase Of Rolling Stock Procurement « The Anonymous Widower | November 14, 2020 | Reply

  17. […] Hitachi announced the Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, I suspect things have moved […]

    Pingback by Thoughts On Batteries In East Midland Railway’s Class 810 Trains « The Anonymous Widower | December 27, 2020 | Reply

  18. […] wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, which announced Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, which is shown in this Hitachi […]

    Pingback by Where Are All The Battery-Electric Trains? « The Anonymous Widower | August 18, 2021 | Reply

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