Video: Battery trains on track to cut emissions

The new train cars carry two 100kWh Lithium batteries. Pic: Darrel Hendrie
The new train cars carry two 100kWh Lithium batteries. Pic: Darrel Hendrie
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Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter was at Bo’Ness for the first public demonstration of the new battery-powered train.

Locomotive startup Vivarail are trialing their new battery trains between Bo’Ness and Kinneil railway stations.

Curious members of the public can take a ride from Bo'Ness. Pic: Darrel Hendrie

Curious members of the public can take a ride from Bo'Ness. Pic: Darrel Hendrie

The recycled District Line London Underground cars weigh in at only 30 tonnes thanks to their aluminium chassis and body.

Everything else under the hood is brand new - including the two 100kWh Lithium batteries hanging from the underside of each carriage.

The train is restricted to a 25mph speed on this week’s test trips, but Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter says it can sustain speeds of “60mph for 40 miles” when new batteries become available next year.

Moreover, the batteries need just four minutes to recharge.

Beyond the recycled exterior, Adrian explains how renewable energy and eco-friendliness are at the heart of the train’s design and a sign of things to come.

“It’s quite quiet, low maintenance and it’s quite economical on its use of electricity,” he says.

“It has regenerative brakes - most of the braking is done electrically - and the energy is put back into the battery.

“There are a lot of places - particularly in Scotland - where there are older diesel trains running which could conceivably be replaced by this train.”

Despite the economical benefit of battery trains on paper, the Vivarail boss isn’t ready to write off electrified lines quite yet.

“In Scotland there’s been a big program of electrification, which is great,” he says.

Read more: Battery train to make debut in Scotland

“It’s easy to produce a train like this that can take charge from the overhead lines if it’s running a service in-part.

“When it goes off onto the section that hasn’t been electrified, the batteries are charged up, it can run on batteries until it gets back under the electrified line again.”

This switching of power sources would come in particularly useful in the Greater Glasgow network, where electrified lines are disconnected for sections of track.

This innovation lends well to Scotland’s Climate Change targets aiming to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Adrian believes battery trains can be one jigsaw piece in the puzzle to help Scotland meet those obligations.

“I think they’re part of the jigsaw puzzle but I don’t think they’re the only solution,” he said, adding “I don’t think anything is.”

Looking to the future, he said “it should be easily possible” for Scotland’s entire rail network to be running “without anything emitting out the exhaust pipe”.

Vivarail are running 50-minute round trip test journeys on their battery trains from Bo’Ness & Kinneil Station on Thursday and Friday morning. Members of the public and train enthusiasts are welcome to come along and experience the futuristic commute for themselves.