Union welcomes electric train prototype

22 August 2013

Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, has welcomed a research project intended to develop trains powered by electric batteries. ‘If the technology can be proved to work, it will be a further step in making rail the unrivalled ecological transport alternative,’ he said. ‘Replacing diesels with electric trains would hugely boost the UK’s attempts to reach its pollution reduction targets.’

Funding for a prototype is being provided by Network Rail, the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), and the Department for Transport. Bombardier is charged with developing a train fitted with lithium phosphate and hot sodium nickel salt batteries in conjunction with Greater Anglia. The trains could run over non-electrified lines and charge at stations on the route.

Initially the Class 379 is being examined for the project. If all proceeds to plan, a prototype will run on an electrified branch line on the Anglia route with its pantograph down, so the driver has the fall-back of raising it to restore power in the case of a failure.

The programme is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

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