UK: An electric multiple-unit which has been retrofitted with lithium iron magnesium phosphate battery packs is now undergoing trials on the test track at Bombardier Transportation’s Derby plant. A series of fast runs is to be undertaken later this year at Network Rail’s Rail Innovation & Development Centre on the High Marnham branch.

The Independently-Powered Electric Multiple-Unit project is being undertaken by infrastructure manager Network Rail, rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier, train operator Abellio Greater Anglia, technology partnership FutureRailway and the Department for Transport.

The partners hope that battery IPEMUs could be used to bridge gaps in otherwise electrified parts of the network, and be deployed on branch lines where it would not be cost effective to install overhead electrification equipment.

Bombardier’s Derby plant has installed six battery rafts on the four-car Class 379 25 kV 50 Hz EMU, which was originally built in Derby. The rafts contain a battery box, Valence Technology batteries, isolation switch, power distribution control panel, battery charging inverter and monitors.

The batteries were selected following static testing of several types, including hot sodium nickel salt. Additional battery tests are now underway at Bombardier’s site at Mannheim in Germany.

‘Although we’ve retrofitted the Abellio Greater Anglia Class 379 unit with lithium iron magnesium batteries, we continue to test other possible solutions so we can gather as much information and comparison data as possible for future development’, said James Ambrose, Network Rail’s senior engineer for the IPEMU project.

Data from the trials will be used to determine whether any future new-build IPEMUs should be battery or overhead-battery hybrid units. According to Ambrose, ‘it is still early days for what is an exciting and experimental project’.