A Modular, Rehabbed, Battery-Electric Train

Video screen capture. Fully Charged

Many train lines in the UK are not electrified. But there's a solution for that, and it starts with old rolling stock...

When I wrote about the huge shift from planes to trains between Scotland and London, I noted that further emissions reductions are expected as more efficient trains come into service. And these appear to be a mixture of pure electric and electro-diesel hybrids, which draw their power from overhead lines where available. However, on many train lines in the UK—and especially on rural, regional routes—electrification appears to be a long way off.

That doesn't mean, however, that diesel will reign supreme forever.

Vivarail is a UK-based company that has been developing trains with modular power sources, from diesel generators to Lithium Phosphate Ion battery packs, that can be switched out quickly and easily into exactly the same housing. It's a pretty cool solution which—like electric buses or battery-powered flight—it has really only been made possible by the dramatic drops in battery prices that we've witnessed in recent years.

But there's more to this story, because every one of these trains is rehabbed from existing, unused rolling stock. And while the test vehicle used in the video below may be a little shabby, the finished product practically gleams and offers all of the creature comforts, safety features and infrastructure you'd expect from a modern train.

Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged went to check it out. Try not to get too jealous, as I did, about the fact he actually gets to drive a bloody train. He certainly looks excited.

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