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Battery of tests proves case for building independently-powered EMU demonstrator

21 November 2013  •  Author: Network Rail

Months of lab testing and behind the scenes work has paved the way for work to start on adapting an electric train to run on battery power.

Network Rail and its industry partners – including the Enabling Innovation Team, Bombardier and Greater Anglia – are testing the case for an independently powered electric multiple unit (IPEMU) to potentially run on short, unelectrified branch lines in otherwise electric parts of the railway.

Electric trains are quicker, quieter, and more efficient; making them better for passengers and the environment. The potential to spread those benefits while not having to put up miles of wiring would be cost-effective and sustainable.

Network Rail’s IPEMU senior engineer James Ambrose said: “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get this far. As well as testing the batteries under simulated journey conditions, we’ve needed to get the donor train gauge cleared for the routes the train has got to run on and gain a certificate of rolling stock/infrastructure compatibility.

“Now it’s over to Bombardier in Derby, who will be converting a Greater Anglia 379 to run on a test track and test the batteries further under live conditions.”

Lithium Iron Magnesium Phosphate battery technology from Valence is the first to meet the requirements of the project following testing at the Valence lab in Texas.

Other battery technologies, including hot sodium nickel salt, continue to be reviewed.

Bombardier’s IPEMU Engineering Project Manager Marc Phillips said “Developing a battery technology in close collaboration with our supplier chain and with Network Rail has underpinned progress to-date, the Lab testing put confirmation to our theoretical simulation work and the Bombardier engineering team has been extremely active in developing in parallel the necessary changes required to convert a Greater Anglia 379 to provide a test bed to allow the concept to mature on train.

“In addition to this Valence our battery supplier have embraced the requirements needed for this rail application and their knowledge and experience in applications for other industries has advanced our integration of a battery technology into this industry demonstrator.”

Kate Marjoribanks, Abellio Greater Anglia’s Engineering Director, said “We’re really pleased to be part of this ground-breaking project which will be taken forward using one of our Class 379 trains. To be able to run an independently powered electrical multiple unit will ultimately benefit both passengers and the environment. We look forward to seeing how this innovative project progresses.”

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