Battery train to make debut in Scotland

Vivarail's class 230 battery-powered train at Bo'ness ahead of its demonstration runs. Picture: Peter Mason/Vivarail
Vivarail's class 230 battery-powered train at Bo'ness ahead of its demonstration runs. Picture: Peter Mason/Vivarail
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Passengers in Scotland will next week be the first to ride in a new battery-powered train to showcase its potential without the high cost of electrifying railway lines.

Vivarail is bringing a converted London Underground train to the heritage Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway for three days of free public trials.

It is among the first such trains north of the Border since the short-lived Sputnik railcar on the Deeside line near Aberdeen 60 years ago.

The two-carriage train will be put through its paces over steep - and potentially leaf-slippy parts of the five-mile line from 10-12 October.

It can run for 40 miles at up to 60mph. The batteries take four minutes to recharge.

Such trains could replace diesel over gaps in the electric network, such as around Glasgow.

Glasgow University rail expert Professor Iain Docherty said: “Battery train technologies offer the potential to move to electric operation of some routes where traditional overhead line electrification will never make economic sense under standard appraisal assumptions.

“But overhead electrification is still too expensive in the UK and the promise of alternative electric propulsion shouldn’t be a reason to stop electrification schemes that have a sound case against a standard European cost base.”

Bill Reeve, director of rail for Transport Scotland, said “The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2017-18 included a commitment to trial hybrid self-powered trains.

“ Transport Scotland has been monitoring technological developments in this field, liaising with Abellio ScotRail, rail vehicle owners and manufacturers.

“The rail industry is working on various approaches to low carbon rail transport.

“Vivarail now has a demonstrator battery powered train available and the opportunity has arisen to have the train carry out demonstrator runs in Scotland during October.

“Transport Scotland welcomes this opportunity to support Vivarail in demonstrating this particular use of zero emission technology on rail.”