The Anonymous Widower

Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested

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

This is the first paragraph.

A prototype Voltap rapid charging station for battery trains has been tested under real-world conditions for the first time.

The Voltap system is from Furrer + Frey and this is the data sheet on their web site, which is entitled Voltap Charging Station For Battery Trains.

Looking at the pictures in the article, the system seems to consist of two components.

  • An overhead conductor rail suspended from pantries on the platform.
  • A container that contains all the power supplies and control systems.

It certainly looks to be a simple system to install and operate.

  • Charging would appear to take place through the pantograph, with no cables to handle.
  • It is claimed to be able to charge a train in an extremely short time.
  • The system is designed for areas, where the electricity network is perhaps a bit weaker.
  • It is available in 15 KVAC and 25 KVAC.
  • The system is future-proofed.

I can see these being suitable for several stations in the UK.

Norfolk And Suffolk

As an example, it looks like all the branch lines in Norfolk and Suffolk could be made suitable for battery-electric trains with Voltap systems at Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Sheringham, Sudbury and Yarmouth.


  1. The Class 755 trains would be converted to battery-electric trains.
  2. Some stations would need more than one platform to have a charger.
  3. There may be other chargers to ensure that services like Norwich and Stansted Airport could be run electrically.

These pictures show Class 755 trains in various East Anglian stations.

Felixstowe and some other stations may need a slightly different installation due to the narrow platforms, but I’m sure Furrer + Frey have installations for all platforms.

I think Great British Railways are going to need a lot of these chargers and the battery-electric trains to go with them.

The Uckfield Branch

The Uckfield Branch probably needs to have some form of charging at Uckfield station.

The picture shows the single long platform at Uckfield station.


  • Trains to work the branch will need to be able to use third-rail electrification between London Bridge station and Hurst Green junction.
  • Hurst Green junction to Uckfield station and back is probably too far for a battery-electric train, so charging will be needed at Uckfield station.
  • Third-rail charging could be used, but I suspect that Health and Safety will say no!

But using a dual-voltage train and a Voltap system at Uckfield station would probably be ideal.


From December the 13th, LNER will be running a new daily service between Middlesbrough and London, which I described in LNER’s Middlesbrough And London Service Starts On December 13th.

The route is fully electrified except for between Middlesbrough and Longlands Junction, where it joins the electrification of the East Coast Main Line, which is a distance of twenty-two miles.

Hitachi are developing a battery-train, which they call the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.


  1. LNER’s current Class 800 trains will probably be able to be converted to this train.
  2. Normally, these trains have three diesel generators.
  3. A range on battery power of upwards of forty miles would be expected.

If the range on battery-power can be stretched to perhaps sixty miles, this train should be capable of serving Middlesbrough without the need for any extra charging at the terminus.

I have just looked at the planned path of the first train on December 13th.

  • The train comes from Heaton depot in Newcastle via Sunderland and Hartlepool.
  • It passes through Middlesbrough station.
  • It then reverses amongst the chemical and steel works to the East, before returning to Middlesbrough station.

Once back at Middlesbrough station, it waits for eight minutes before leaving for London.

It looks to me to be a safe route, to make sure that the train leaves on time. It also only occupies the platform at Middlesbrough station for less than ten minutes.

But it would also be possible to find space amongst the chemical and steel works to find space for a well-designed reversing siding with refuelling for the diesel-electric trains or a Voltap charging system for a battery-electric train.


I have been looking at the pattern of LNER’s London and Lincoln service today.

  • There have been six trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • Trains going North take up to seven minutes to unload passengers at Lincoln station before moving on to Lincoln Terrace C. H. S., which I would assume is a convenient reversing siding.
  • Trains going South wait up to thirty-forty minutes at Lincoln station after arriving from Lincoln Terrace C. H. S., before leaving for Kings Cross.

It looks to me, that if London and Lincoln were to be run by a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, that the timings would be ideal for charging the batteries on the train in either the reversing siding or the station.

But surely, the charging system in the station would allow extension of the service to Grimsby and Cleethorpes, which has been stated as being part of LNER’s plans.

This picture shows Lincoln station.

I suspect that Swiss ingenuity could fit a Voltap charging system in the station.

These are a few distances from Lincoln station.

  • Cleethorpes – 47.2 miles
  • Doncaster – 35.4 miles
  • Newark North Gate – 16.6 miles
  • Peterborough – 56.9 miles

How many of these destinations could be reached by a battery-electric train, that had been fully-charged at Lincoln station.



October 18, 2021 - Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. This looks really straight forward concept for pan equipped emus. Interestingly the system is mains frequency but the trains are normally 16 2/3Hz but they can cope fine not an issue for us. Found a bit more info on this site

    Its a no brainer and we need to be bolder n the UK – equip 331’s with batteries and stick these up on all the diesel branch lines and hey presto you’ve decarbonised its not rocket science its a lack of political will.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | October 18, 2021 | Reply

    • I’ve updated the post.

      Comment by AnonW | October 18, 2021 | Reply

  2. The frequency used for Voltap is the mains frequency of 50Hz, an issue in Germany, but not in the UK. So, really, this charger is better suited for the UK. The Scott transformer used in Voltap is already wired for 25kV, so what are we waiting for? Like Nicholas says, it is a no-brainer. Diesel lines can be transformed to electric in the time it takes to get battery equipped rolling stock, since building a Voltap is fast and easy. Furrer+Frey UK is a British company, and does quite a lot of overhead lines in the UK already.

    Comment by Roger Bedell | October 19, 2021 | Reply

    • I think you’re pointing out that in Germany they have to take the standard grid frequency of 50Hz and in addition to the need of a Stepdown Transformer add the complexity of a frequency converter to meet the standard DB traction supply of 15kVA, 16.7Hz? As you say the requirement here is less complicated. The major consideration must be in providing the MV sources in some of the more remote parts of the electricity network.
      I’m equally perplexed about what happened to Porterbrook’s 2018 batteryFLEX project that was to convert a Class 350/2 as a battery/electric bi-mode. Why have we heard no more about this?
      Looking further at the Furrer+Frey system, I know that the company has shown foresight in chosing to offer the Voltap integrated system but I can see little that is unique and would preclude others from providing a competitive product; there are after all a number of OCS/MOCS manufacturers.

      Comment by fammorris | October 19, 2021 | Reply

      • I wonder what has happened about the Class 350s. But there are a lot of them coming off the network, when Alstom get Bombardier’s act together.

        Siemens surely have the knowledge to convert these trains. It could be a nice little earner for their new factory.

        Comment by AnonW | October 19, 2021

      • The point about the voltfap trial in Germany was the Stadler train could accept 50Hz or 16 2/3 Hz frequency – im guessing voltage is still 15kV but anyhow not an issue over here.

        This short discussion between us just throws up how much easy opportunity is out there if someone will grasp the nettle but i fear BoJo has got hooked on Hydrogen now as the panacea. Also outside of MerseyRail, TfW and ScotRail i suspect rest of TOCs are going to just sit back until GBR is full formed before we move forward.

        Of course stark reality is rail is almost immaterial compared to emission from cars and aviation but there are some quick wins here.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | October 19, 2021

      • In all honesty wouldn’t you sit back and wait for the formation of Schapps ‘Great’ British Railway, after all in order to reduce the variety of vehicle types one of the policies being touted at the moment involves the development of completely new “standard” train products, with GBR ultimately owning the intellectual property and manufacturing drawings for the products developed. Wishful thinking.
        Alternatively its suggested that new fleets should be based on present procurement with GBR selecting the “best” of each market sector, but leaving the likes of the ROSCOS and other procuring agents to accept one of these “best” options for their particular requirement, with these companies reaching long-term supply agreements with the manufacturers.
        If you buy the ‘wrong’ train in the interim your investment becomes an albatross. More policy changes equals more short term confusion.

        Comment by fammorris | October 19, 2021

  3. Re Uckfield Southern already have a fleet of 377/2, 377/5 and 377/7 which are 25kV equipped as well so they have a ready made fleet to get to Uckfield just need to attach batteries to the units and erect some voltfap sites. I do suspect finding locations in the rural areas where you can readily attach a 1-2MVA load maybe a challenging but Edenbridge , Crowborough and Uckfield are already big load centres fed from UK Power Networks HV distribution system so ought to be able to accommodate those loads.

    And also the 755’s are suitable and Stadler have done the work for CVL to maximise battery operation of their new fleets so they ought to be able off the shelf solutions as well that could decarbonise all there workings.

    Given the govt not being that favourable to electrification still and loving to find media opportunity they would have pushed at least a trial by now.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | October 19, 2021 | Reply

  4. I rode an Electrostar fitted with batteries in 2015, So where the f*&^ing hell are the battery-electric Electrostars?

    As to the 755s the Welsh 756s will have batteries, so the technology can’t be far away. I also think the Akku is another variant of the bi-more Flirt with a power-car in the middle.

    Comment by AnonW | October 19, 2021 | Reply

  5. To make this work on the “Bittern” line (Cromer) they would need to change the service pattern significantly or have significant infrastructure change.

    I use this route frequently, in fact yesterday evening.

    I’m not sure how long the train needs to be connected to recharge. But currently the train does not stop for more than a minute or two at Cromer (driver changing ends) or Sheringham terminus (again changing ends, on a tight pattern). All the wait/slack in the hourly pattern is currently at Norwich station (under the catenary), but sometimes that is only a few minutes too (some trains are stoppers taking almost the whole hour, some skip some stations which saves about 10 mins.

    Single line hourly service with two trains that pass towards the end of the double tracked section part way up the line.

    Making the slack at Sheringham isn’t an option as it would make the connections at Norwich with London and other services unreliable if the inbound trains from London etc. are delayed.

    Battery electric hybrid with extended catenary part way up the line and maybe Cromer-Sheringham is the simple answer to remove the diesel power.

    Since the new trains and the station refurbs I think the line is getting busier, helped by some keen fare pricing from further away (e.g. £5 and £10 one way London to Sheringham). All it needs now are local buses that connect to every train, but Sanders coaches say they can’t afford to do this.

    Comment by MilesT | October 20, 2021 | Reply

    • That sounds like a perfect solution to me no need to erect any infrastructure on these routes as a round trip should be easily covered by the batteries – they could even leave in one engine for emergencies

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | October 20, 2021 | Reply

  6. With all the reversing, that is done around Norfolk, I do wonder if there’ll be some extra automation, as is being applied on Crossrail.

    But if Stadler changed all diesels for battery packs, I suspect that these services would only need charging at Norwich and Ipswich. With possibly a top up at Lowestoft.

    After all the Akku has a range of 185 km. I haven’t seen a full picture of an Akku, but is it a 755 with all four slots filled with batteries?

    Comment by AnonW | October 20, 2021 | Reply

    • “Bittern” has TPWS and some monitoring balises, but resignalling to modern in cab specs needed for reduced driver input would be very expensive considering ridership. Level crossings are an issue too, during the launch of 755’s there was a level crossing near miss on the line near the coast (cab video online) due to misconfiguration of track sensors.

      Comment by MilesT | October 20, 2021 | Reply

      • Your remarks which I interpreted as linking the 755 and level crossings and in some way was due to misconfiguration of track sensors intrigued me so much so that I looked at the RAIB Report and an article by Roger Ford concerning the level crossing near miss. According to the RAIB the core cause was the wheel/rail interface (in this case leaves on the line) which led to the interruption of track circuits. This problem originally reared its head the first week that disc braked 158s replaced tread braked 150 and 156s back at the end of the 1980s. The Modern Railways article says that in order to mitigate further incidents electro-mechanical treadles have been installed to reinforce the identification of trains in the vicinity of level crossings.
        I see too that apart from Anglia using Class 170s in the past, previous tread braked 153s and 156s have operated prior to the 755 introduction, was this a reason for the absence of incidents before the introduction of the 755?

        Comment by fammorris | October 20, 2021

  7. […] wrote about Furrer + Frey’s Voltap charging system in Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested. This charging system would surely work with Hitachi’s designs as batteries can be charged […]

    Pingback by More On Batteries On Class 802 Trains « The Anonymous Widower | November 27, 2021 | Reply

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