The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Batteries On A Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

This Hitachi infographic describes a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Hitachi are creating the first of these battery trains, by replacing one of the diesel power-packs in a Class 802 train with a battery-pack from Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%, gives a few more details.

The Class 802 train has the following characteristics.

  • Five cars.
  • Three diesel power-packs, each with a power output of 700 kW.
  • 125 mph top speed on electricity.
  • I believe all intermediate cars are wired for diesel power-packs, so can all intermediate cars have a battery?

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?, I estimated that the trains need the following amounts of energy to keep them at a constant speed.

  • Class 801 train – 125 mph 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile
  • Class 801 train – 100 mph 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile

The figures are my best estimates.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, also gives the weight of the diesel power-pack and all its related gubbins.

The axle load of the train is given as 15 tonnes, but for a car without a diesel engine it is given as 13 tonnes.

As there are four axles to a car, I can deduce that the diesel power-pack and the gubbins, weigh around eight tonnes.

How much power would a one tonne battery hold?

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

Using these figures, a one-tonne battery would be between 100 and 265 kWh in capacity, depending on the energy density.

As it is likely that if the diesel power-pack replacement would probably leave things like fuel tanks and radiators behind, so that the diesel engines could be reinstalled, I would expect that a battery of around four tonnes would be fitted.

On the basis of the University of Washington’s figures a 400 kWh battery pack would certainly be feasible.

Using. the energy use at 100 mph of 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile, I can get the following ranges for different battery sizes.

  • 400 kWh battery – 36.53 miles
  • 500 kWh battery – 45.67 miles
  • 600 kWh battery – 54.80 miles
  • 800 kWh battery – 73.06 miles

As Lincoln and Newark are just 16.6 miles apart, it looks to me that a 500 or 600 kWh battery could be a good choice for that route, as it would leave enough hotel power for the turnround.

It should also handle shorter routes like these.

  • Newbury and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles.
  • Didcot and Oxford – 10.3 miles
  • Newark and Lincoln – 16.6 miles
  • Leeds and Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • Northallerton and Middlesbrough – 20 miles
  • Hull and Temple Hirst Junction and Hull – 36.1 miles

Some routes like Temple Hirst Junction and Hull would need charging at the destination.

The Range Of A Five Car Train With Three Batteries

Suppose a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train had three battery-packs and no diesel engines.

  • It would be based on Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train technology.
  • It would have two driver cars without batteries.
  • It would have three intermediate cars with 600 kWh batteries.
  • It would have 1800 kWh in the batteries.
  • The train would be optimised for 100 mph running.
  • My estimate says it would need 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile to cruise at 100 mph.

It could have a range of up to 164 miles.

If the batteries were only 500 kWh, the range would be 137 miles.

The Ultimate Battery Train

I think it would be possible to put together a nine car battery-electric train with a long range.

  • It would be based based on Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train technology, which would be applied to a Class 800 or Class 802 train.
  • It would have two driver cars without batteries.
  • It would have seven intermediate cars with 600 kWh batteries.
  • It would have a total battery capacity of 4200 kWh.
  • The train would be optimised for 100 mph running.
  • My estimate in How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?, said it would need 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile to cruise at 100 mph.

That would give a range of over 200 miles.

If the batteries were only 500 kWh, the range would be 178 miles.

Aberdeen, Inverness, Penzance and Swansea here we come.

Can Hitachi Increase The Range Further?

There are various ways that the range can be improved.

  • More electrically-efficient on-board systems like air-conditioning.
  • A more aerodynamic nose.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Batteries with a higher energy density.
  • Better driver assistance software.


  1. Hitachi have already announced that the Class 810 trains for East Midlands Railway will have a new nose profile.
  2. Batteries are improving all the time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a ten percent improvement in range by 2030.


I was surprised at some of the results of my estimates.

But I do feel that Hitachi trains with 500-600 kWh batteries could bring a revolution to train travel in the UK.

Edinburgh And Aberdeen


  • The gap in the electrification is 130 miles between Edinburgh Haymarket and Aberdeen.
  • There could be an intermediate charging station at Dundee.
  • Charging would be needed at Aberdeen.

I think Hitachi could design a train for this route.

Edinburgh And Inverness


  • The gap in the electrification is 146 miles between Stirling and Inverness.
  • This could be shortened by 33 miles, if there were electrification between Stirling and Perth.
  • Charging would be needed at Inverness.

I think Hitachi could design a train for this route.


May 31, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


  1. Energy will be needed to accelerate the train in the first place as well as supporting hotel load so frequency of stops will affect overall consumption per mile. i reckon they will need to fast charge at terminus but hopefully be able to use existing traction inverters to do that otherwise more kit to lug around.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | May 31, 2021 | Reply

  2. Hitachi have designed the trains for regenerative braking and I’m certain that will be used to charge the batteries.

    Note that my estimate for the amount of electricity the train used came from the original specification, so I don’t think it’s that far out.

    I also know of at least three sensible methods of charging the trains in stations.

    I suspect the cheapest way to charge them would be to put up a small amount of electrification. This would also help accelerate the train away from the terminus.

    Comment by AnonW | May 31, 2021 | Reply

  3. Not sure of the weight of “the gubbins”, but this would be traction motors, gearbox, drive shafts etc.
    The line from Perth to Inverness is long and hilly, but regeneration would recoup some of the energy required and with the quite low speed limit, less would be needed anyway.
    Any train on this line needs to have enough hotel power to be able to survive being stranded overnight, as has happened.
    Maybe GBR should talk to the Swiss?

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | May 31, 2021 | Reply

    • traction motors, gearbox and drive shafts will be needed for electric operation. I suspect they’d leave the fuel tank and the radiators. I suspect that Hyperdrive are a devious bunch of engineers, so if the battery packs need cooling, they’ll plumb into MTU’s bits.

      Remember, I’ve been in the cab of a HST between Edinburgh and Inverness. Regenerative braking and automatic train control would speed it through the Highlands.

      Comment by AnonW | May 31, 2021 | Reply

  4. […] article is a repeat of Thoughts On Batteries On A Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, but for their other train with batteries; the Hitachi Regional Battery […]

    Pingback by Thoughts On Batteries On A Hitachi Regional Battery Train « The Anonymous Widower | June 1, 2021 | Reply

  5. […] Thoughts On Batteries On A Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, I had a section, which was called The Ultimate Battery […]

    Pingback by What Would Be The Ultimate Range Of A Nine-Car Class 800 Train? « The Anonymous Widower | June 2, 2021 | Reply

  6. Hitachi have just announced a project with Angel/TPE for adding a battery to their 802s. From what they say, it looks like the priority is reducing emissions in stations and urban areas. If they used the ability to put up the catenary whilst in motion, they could use the electrification in Leeds and other sections of York-Man not currently electrified.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 10, 2021 | Reply

    • sorry, ‘not currently electrified’ should read ‘currently being electrified’.

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 10, 2021 | Reply

  7. I see Alstom are going for a Hydrogen solution and looks like building 10 units on spec

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 10, 2021 | Reply

    • Alstom have had less success in finding orders for their H trains than other manufacturers with batteries, though. states that in Germany, where the iLint was first introduced, battery trains have been ordered for at least 5 times as much track as H ones – and this article is from a year ago, and the difference has increased since then.

      As the article says, batteries are far cheaper, and simpler. When the iLint first came out, I thought it would be ideal for routes which were beyond battery range. But the recent 3-year trial of batteries in Germany found that the Stadler BEMUs could manage 185km without charging. Even allowing for the more restrictive loading gauge, that would cover most routes in GB. Plus the fact that battery development continues apace, whereas the properties of H will remain the same as they’ve always been. Once someone works out how to mass produce solid-state batteries (and I think that’s when rather than if), all routes should be within battery range.

      GB first tested battery trains 5 years ago (or was it 6?), and it’s frustrating that they are not in service on shorter routes by now. Still, I suppose 5km batteries are better than nothing.

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 20, 2021 | Reply

      • There was a long article written by Hitachi about battery and hydrogen trains in Rail Magazine a couple of years ago, that dismissed hydrogen.

        I have a feeling that the 5 km range is geared to what size of battery that can be easily produced. And it just happens to fit well with discontinuous electrification everywhere. It also probably provides enough juice for a station stop.

        As Hitachi’s pantographs seem to be able to be raised and lowered with the alacrity of a whore’s drawers, I suspect that they’ve found a very affordable combination.

        Why lug extra weight you don’t need around?

        Remember too, that Hitachi will now have lots of statistics of the performance of their trains in the UK.

        Could the reason for Avanti’s new Class 807 trains being without diesel engines or batteries, be that Avanti’s stats have shown that the West Coast electrification rarely fails and that Hitachi’s stats show that a Class 801 train rarely uses its emergency diesel?

        So in the rare case of electrification or train failure, they have to call for a Thunderbird. But they have to do that with Class 390 trains.

        Comment by AnonW | November 20, 2021

      • I think the advantage of these trials is (a) they can be implemented quickly, and (b) they mean operators can become accustomed to battery operation. Once operators find that batteries work and don’t need much in the way of changes to operating procedures, they’ll be more confident installing larger ones with longer range, and reducing dependency on diesel.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 20, 2021

  8. I also think, that as the Lumo Class 803 trains have batteries for emergency hotel power, that Hitachi are getting good feedback on reliability.

    Comment by AnonW | November 20, 2021 | Reply

  9. there’s an item on these trials in Transport Focus today which has a quote from Peter Wilkinson of the DfT. One of the claimed advantages of creating GBR was that train procurement could be consolidated into one place (economies of scale). This seems to me to imply that GBR would be responsible for deciding which rolling stock runs on which lines, and so which traction type is used where. But PW says “the rail industry must both show leadership and take the lead; waiting for permission simply won’t be an acceptable excuse”, which seems to be saying that it’s up to the existing operators to organise diesel replacement.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 20, 2021 | Reply

  10. I do think though that government support for Freightliner’s plan to create a dual-fuel Class 66 locomotive is a good thing. With selective grants, the governments can influence operators to do the right thing to support the bigger picture which GBR should know!

    Comment by AnonW | November 20, 2021 | Reply

    • true, but overall, operators have no budget or other incentive to implement battery power. To take an example close to me. Avanti are replacing the Voyagers to Chester/N Wales with Hitachi 805s, which should be coming into service before too long. Fine, this should be a great improvement as regards emissions. Using diesel under the wires was always a daft thing to do, and Hitachi’s diesel engines should be more efficient than the old Voyager ones on the non-electrified track. Now, Chester should easily be within battery range of Crewe, but there’s no mention of this in the franchise. If using batteries can save Avanti loadsamoney compared with diesel, they’d have a good incentive to install them. That’s probably not the case, so where’s the incentive for Avanti (or any of the other operators) to ‘take the lead’, as Wilkinson suggests?

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 20, 2021 | Reply

      • Avanti have said, that they intend to use batteries in the 805s. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the 805s are just 802s with different numbers.

        They have stated that the 807s will have no diesel engines of batteries, but nothing has been said about the 805s.
        Hitachi are playing their cards close to their chest.

        Comment by AnonW | November 20, 2021

      • Agree that Crewe to Chester is ideal for battery power as its got plenty of time to recharge on the run to Euston and back. Its around 65km to Chester and back so whether thats doable without a recharge at Chester is maybe a limitation on using batteries currently. There is also an issue, is there not, in these trains not being tilt that they will be restricted to reduced speed over much of the route so they will need to maximise the speed across to Chester to maintain point to point times which will need maximum energy input to keep time. Batteries can deliver that power but can they pack enough capacity into the underframes to do so given they need to cover hotel load and some contingency for operational incidents.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 20, 2021

      • I’m far from expert on such things, but my understanding is that the tilt is most useful on the N section of WCML, along the Lune valley for example, and less on Euston-Crewe. Also, the Hitachi trains should have substantially better acceleration than the Voyagers, so should be able to make up time relative to them that way. One of the reasons given for using batteries on the SW lines is that batteries should be able to provide extra power if needed when in diesel mode.

        Afraid I’ve wandered off topic here, as the OP was about the battery tri-mode, whereas with Chester I’m talking about replacing diesel with battery. Hitachi have stated that their battery bi-mode can manage 90km without charge, which ought to be more than enough for Cre-Ctr and back.

        It occurs to me that, if the tri-modes work out well, Hitachi may well offer them as the default configuration, and then gradually increase the battery capabilities to manage longer and longer sections of unelectrified track.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 20, 2021

  11. I see Hitachi is also making battery tri-modes for the Italian market under ‘Blues’. Or if you prefer Italian Seems these too should be in action next year.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 20, 2021 | Reply

  12. I have no definitive information on this, but I would expect that say a big end went on diesel engine, that overnight or in a day or two, the dead engine could be removed and another one plugged in. So surely, if the battery packs and the diesel engines are interchangeable, this would enable an operator to experiment as to what configuration is best for its routes and configure the fleet accordingly.

    Comment by AnonW | November 20, 2021 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: