Hitachi Rail and engineering company Hyperdrive Innovation have signed an agreement to help accelerate the electrification of the UK’s rail fleet.
The two manufacturers will work together to develop battery packs that can be mass-produced to provide zero-emission power for trains across the UK.
Currently, only 42% of the UK’s rail network is electrified, and with the government continuing to outline ambitious decarbonisation targets, Hitachi Rail has estimated that there is a potential for new battery technology to power over 400 trains.
Battery-powered trains produce no greenhouse gases or air pollution and they are much quieter. Installing batteries on to existing fleets can also extend the range of the trains, allowing passengers to reach stations without having to change train.
To develop these batteries, the two companies will create a new battery hub in the North East of England. According to the manufacturers, widespread adoption of this technology could provide a major boost for UK industry and could double the number of jobs in this sector.
Chris Pennison, CEO of Hyperdrive said: ‘We’re delighted to bring our expertise and experience as a trusted electrification partner to a new industry, assisting an innovative organisation like Hitachi, as it modernises and decarbonises UK rail networks.
‘Our partnership with Hitachi will secure major investment and jobs in the North East, reinforcing the UK’s battery supply chain and keeping the country on track to reach net-zero by 2050.
‘British trains currently use 469 million litres of diesel each year, emitting over 2.4 million tonnes CO2 annually.
‘This 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.’
Business and Industry Minister, Nadhim Zahawi added: ‘It’s fantastic to see two innovative companies joining forces to create good quality manufacturing jobs across the North East.
‘An emission-free public transport system is vital if we’re to build a stronger, greener economic recovery that spreads prosperity and opportunity across the UK.’