Battery-operated train breaks UK record in Gloucestershire

An innovative new battery-operated train has broken the UK record for distance travelled without recharging on a test journey through Gloucestershire, with operator Great Western Railway saying it surpassed all expectations.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
GWR's innovative battery-operated FastCharge train broke the UK record for distance travelled without recharging on a test journey through Gloucestershire this February 2024.

Great Western Railway has made a giant leap towards making rail travel more sustainable this February 2024, with its battery-operated train breaking the UK record for distance travelled on battery power without recharging. 

One of its innovative FastCharge battery trains clocked up 86 miles without recharging, travelling between Long Marston, Evesham, Moreton-in-Marsh and Honeybourne on Wednesday 14 February 2024, beating the previous UK record held by a Stadler Class 777 under test conditions in 2022. 

The train also completed a 70-mile journey from Long Marston to Reading Train Care Depot — where it will undergo compatibility testing and preparation for future maintenance — using just 45 per cent of its battery capacity, with engineers on board saying it could have travelled more than 120 miles on a single charge. 

GWR's engineering director, Dr Simon Green, said: 'We were delighted by how the battery train performed today and during its series of test runs. In fact, it’s fair to say it has surpassed the expectations of our team of engineers.

'Achieving these distances gives us great confidence as we press forward with this industry-leading FastCharge technology.

'It’s also worth noting that in reaching the 86 miles on Wednesday, the train was operating in a real-world environment, at speeds of up to 60 miles-per-hour, stopping and starting over a hilly route, with elevation changes of up to 200 metres.'

Following these successful test runs, FastCharge trains will be trialled in a real-world environment for the first time this spring 2024, with trains operating alongside existing passenger services on the Greenford branch line in West Ealing in London, where the trains will take just 3.5 minutes to charge before their journeys restart. 

GWR's FastCharge technology is designed to provide reliable, battery-only trains that can fulfil timetabled services on branch lines, to eliminate the need for diesel engines or overhead electric lines and help meet the government's target to make the rail industry net zero carbon by 2050. 

Until now, range constraints have meant that widespread implementation of battery-operated trains hasn't been possible, but GWR hopes its new technology could see battery-powered trains being used across more than 80 branch lines across the country, potentially reducing its carbon emissions by over 1,700 tonnes per year. 


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