Watch: Great Western Railway launches battery-powered train trial between West Ealing and Greenford

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Great Western Railway hopes the technology will one day allow battery-powered trains to operate across the UK's branch lines.

A rapid-charging battery train trial, which could help end diesel operations on branch lines, has been launched in west London.

Great Western Railway (GWR) is conducting a 12-month pilot of the technology on the two-and-a-half-mile Greenford branch line in west London.

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At West Ealing, the former London Underground District line train is charged for three and a half minutes before restarting its journey.

GWR says it hopes the technology could one day see battery-powered trains in operation across the UK's branch lines.

The pilot will last for 12 months to enable the train to be used in environmental conditions that will put different demands on the batteries, such as in winter when heaters will be used and in summer when air conditioning will be turned on.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood beside the battery powered trainGWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood beside the battery powered train
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood beside the battery powered train

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said the technology will be a “vital” part of the industry’s efforts to phase out diesel-only trains by 2040.

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“We want GWR to be at the forefront of the railway’s commitment to phase out diesel-only traction by 2040 and this demonstrates that we put our customers at the heart of everything we do,” said Mr Hopwood.

“This is why we took on the challenge and are taking an industry-leading approach in not only battery train operation, but the development of the fast-charge system.

“It’s important to remember this work has never been done before. It’s designed to test the capability and viability of the fast-charge technology – and demonstrates Great Western Railway taking a bold and broad approach towards replacing diesel-only trains with greener units.”

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “We're ambitious about making the railways even more sustainable and this trial, backed by government funding, could pave the way for greener journeys for millions of passengers across the network.

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“Rail is already the most environmentally friendly form of public transport and battery-powered technology will play an important role in further decarbonising it, helping us reach our net-zero target by 2050.”

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