The Anonymous Widower

Could A Battery-Electric High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Train Be Developed?

A Battery-Electric High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Train, would not be needed for High Speed Two, as it is currently envisaged, as all lines will be electrified.

But Hitachi have already said that they are developing the Hitachi Intercity Battery Hybrid Train, which is described in this infographic.

This page on the Hitachi Rail web site gives this description of the Hybrid Battery Train.

A quick and easy application of battery technology is to install it on existing or future Hitachi intercity trains. A retrofit programme would involve removing diesel engines and replace with batteries.

Hitachi Rail’s modular design means this can be done without the need to re-engineer or rebuild the train, this ensures trains can be returned to service as quickly as possible for passengers. Adding a battery reduces fuel costs up to 30% or increase performance.

These trains will be able to enter, alight and leave non–electrified stations in battery mode reducing diesel emissions and minimising noise – helping to improve air quality and make train stations a cleaner environment for passengers.

Our battery solution complements electrification, connecting gaps and minimising potential infrastructure costs and disruption to service.

It looks to me, that Hitachi are playing an old Electrical/Electronic Engineer’s trick.

As a sixteen-year-old, I spent a Summer in a rolling mills, building replacement transistorised control units for the old electronic valve units. They had been designed, so they were plug-compatible and performed identically.

It appears, that Hitachi’s battery supplier; Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland has just designed a battery pack, that appears to the train to be a diesel engine.

In the Technical Outline, this is said.

  • Train Configuration: 5 – 12 car
  • Nominal Vehicle Length: 26m
  • Power Supply: Battery

The AT-300 trains generally have twenty-six metre cars.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?, I calculated that a Class 801 train uses 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile, at 125 mph.

  • This means that a five-car train will use 1710 kWh to do 100 miles at 125 mph.
  • The train has three diesel engines, so three batteries of 570 kWh would be needed.
  • Alternatively, if a battery was put in each car, 342 kWh batteries would be needed.
  • In the Wikipedia entry for battery-electric multiple unit, there are two examples of trains with 360 kWh batteries.

I believe building 570 kWh batteries for fitting under the train is possible.

What would be the maximum range for this train at 100 mph?

  • I will assume that five batteries are fitted.
  • As drag is proportional to the square of the speed, I’ll use a figure of 2.07 kWh per vehicle mile, at 100 mph.

This is a table of ranges with different size batteries in all cars.

  • 50 kWh – 24.1 miles
  • 100 kWh – 48.3 miles
  • 200 kWh – 96.6 miles
  • 300 kWh – 145 miles
  • 400 kWh – 193.2 miles
  • 500 kWh – 241.5 miles

They are certainly useful ranges.

LNER Will Be Ordering Ten New Bi-Mode Trains

In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I discussed LNER’s need for ten new bi-mode trains, which started like this.

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the opening paragraph.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast Main Line services.

Some other points from the article.

  • It appears that LNER would like to eliminate diesel traction if possible.
  • On-board energy storage is mentioned.
  • No form of power appears to be ruled out, including hydrogen.
  • LNER have all 65 of their Azumas in service.

I believe that ten trains would be enough to handle LNER’s services on lines without electrification to the North of Scotland.

  • London and Aberdeen has 130 miles without wires.
  • London and Inverness has 146 miles without wires.
  • Electrification plans are progressing North to Perth and to Thornton Junction.

I suspect both routes could be upgraded to under a hundred miles without wires.

I believe, that if Hyperdrive Innovation pull out every trick in the book to save power in their batteries that a five-car Azuma with a 300 kWh battery in each car, will have sufficient range with reserves to go between Edinburgh and Inverness or Aberdeen at 100 mph.

A Battery-Electric High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Train


  • I am a great believer in regenerative breaking to batteries on the train, as my experience says it the most efficient  and also gives advantages, when the catenary fails.
  • Stadler’s approach with the Class 777 train, where all trains have a small battery for depot movements, is likely to be increasingly copied by other train manufacturers.
  • Hitachi have also designed the Class 803 trains for Lumo with emergency batteries for hotel power.

I could envisage provision for batteries being designed into a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Train.

Suppose it was wanted to run High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Trains between Crewe and Holyhead.

  • The train has eight cars.
  • The route is 105.5 miles.
  • I will assume an average speed of 100 mph.
  • A Class 801 train uses 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile, at 125 mph.
  • As drag is proportional to the square of the speed, I’ll use a figure of 2.07 kWh per vehicle mile, at 100 mph.
  • This means that an eight-car train will use 1747.08 kWh to do 105.5 miles at 100 mph.
  • I would put a traction battery in each car, to distribute the weight easily.

Each battery would need to be 218.4 kWh, which is totally feasible.

How far would the train travel on 300 kWh batteries at 100 mph?

  • Total battery capacity is 2400 kWh.
  • One mile will use 16.56 kWh.
  • I am assuming the train is using regenerative braking to the battery at each stop.

The train will travel 145 miles before needing a recharge.

On the Crewe and Holyhead route, there would be a reserve of around 40 miles or nearly 500 kWh.


I am convinced that Hitachi and their highly regarded partner; Hyperdrive Innovation, have developed a battery pack, that gives enough power to match the performance of Class 800/802/805/810 trains on diesel and give a range of upwards of a hundred miles on battery power at 100 mph, if you put a 300 kWh battery pack in all cars.

  • But then Stadler have run an Akku for 115 miles and a Class 777 for 84 miles on battery power alone.
  • I think the key is to put a battery in each car and harvest all the electricity you can from braking.
  • Remember too that Hitachi  can raise and lower their pantographs with all the alacrity of a whore’s drawers, so strategic lengths of overhead electrification can also be erected.

Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation appear to have invented the High Speed Battery Train.

We’ll know soon, when the order for the LNER bi-modes is announced.

Whatever works on LNER, should work on High Speed Two.


March 16, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,

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