English railway company Network Rail is to test phosphate and hot sodium nickel salt batteries in a battery-powered commuter train.
Around 80,000 batteries, each about the size of a cigarette lighter, will be used in the train, which serves a 12-mile stretch of track in Essex, Great Britain.
However, all indications point to the plan and technology both facing hurdles before wholesale implementation becomes a reality, even if the test is successful.
This is because even if the 5 week test is successful the long term logistics of using the batteries remains in doubt due to their two hour lifespan. It would mean they are a no-go for longer distances, and could cause problems for even short commuter routes.
The test train is a modified Class 379 Electrostar battery-powered train – also known as an Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU).
The IPEMU runs only slightly slower than diesel powered trains or those on an electrical cable route. If the test is successful, the benefits of a system of battery-powered commuter trains could be substantial felt across the UK.
Electrical trains run quieter than diesel trains, and battery-powered trains run quieter than those on electrical lines.
The benefits of the trains include the U.K. being able to expand the range of its electrical fleet without running additional costly, unsightly electrical lines, and like battery power in cars, is potentially cleaner and more sustainable than vehicles that run by burning a petrochemical.