Great Western Railway develop charger which charges train batteries in under 4 minutes

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A rapid charger for battery-powered trains has been developed in an effort to help decarbonise Britain’s railways.

Great Western Railway

Great Western Railway (GWR) said that it has led a project to create a device which is capable of charging train batteries in three and a half minutes.

The system can deliver charging power of up to 2,000kW – eight times more than a Tesla Supercharger for electric vehicles.

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GWR plan to trial the device this spring at West Ealing station, west London, with battery-only trains running on the two-and-a-half-mile Greenford branch line.

The operator hopes the device could pave the way for battery-only trains to replace diesels on the UK’s 2,000 miles of branch lines, helping to meet the Government’s target of phasing out diesel-only trains by 2040 and reach net-zero for carbon emissions by 2050.

GWR engineering director Dr Simon Green said: “This work has never been done before and we’re leading the way to help the Department for Transport and Network Rail understand what is required to roll out this technology on the UK’s rail network.

“Only now has there been a combination of battery capability and charging technology that enables a branch line train to operate to the same timetable as a diesel unit, and yet still charge safely and with minimal impact on the local grid power supply.

“Our specialist engineering team has been working round the clock to ensure that this FastCharge system has been fully tested and that there will be sufficient charge for the train to operate to the timetable on the Greenford branch line.”

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“Each branch line will vary but this is an incredibly exciting innovation and I’m proud that GWR is at the forefront of the railway’s commitment to phase out diesel-only traction by 2040.”

Network Rail interim regional managing director Rob Cairns said: “This trial marks an important milestone in sustainable travel in the UK.

“Rail is already the greenest form of public transport, and battery-powered trains have the potential to play an important role in our commitment to a low-emission railway.”

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