There was more news for an eco-friendly travel future this week with the announcement of plans to roll out zero emission trains across the UK rail network.
Train manufacturer Hitachi Rail, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is working with Sunderland battery firm Hyperdrive Innovation on a project that aims to create batteries to power hundreds of trains across the UK.
Train manufacturers have been racing to develop zero emission trains to operate on routes that lack the electrical infrastructure which are currently populated by diesel rolling stock. Two-thirds of the UK’s 20,000 mile rail infrastructure is currently not electrified.
Hitachi aims to have its 275 trains as early recipients of the batteries, with new metro and intercity trains being the aim over the coming years as diesel fleets are retired.
British trains currently use 469m litres of diesel each year, emitting over 2.4m tonnes CO2. The partnership underpins the vision that the rail industry can be a major contributor to the UK Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 and strengthens the case for home-grown innovation to be at the forefront of the UK’s clean growth strategy.
Hyperdrive said that a widespread implementation of battery technology in trains could help it increase its manufacturing capability up to 30,000 battery packs per year, which would double the number of jobs at its Sunderland factory.
Andrew Barr, Group CEO of Hitachi Rail, said:
"Battery trains can play a vital role in improving the air we breathe, tackling climate change and providing modern, high performing rail service - all things we know passengers want to see. The partnership with Hyperdrive creates shovel-ready opportunity for new battery trains to be ordered now. As well as new trains, this is also a window of opportunity to cut carbon and supercharge a green recovery in the North East and across the UK.”
With the first UK test of battery-electric airplane, which used a powertrain from California-based ZeroAvia, last week, it seems that the engineering world is rapidly accelerating towards an eco-friendly, zero emissions future when it comes to transport.