WSP has been appointed by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) to advise on the delivery of battery-powered trains on the UK rail network.
Working closely with industry stakeholders, including Network Rail and the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT), the multi-disciplinary professional services consultancy will produce an evidence-based report providing industry with clear recommendations to optimise and standardise the wider and strategic adoption of battery power on UK railways.
WSP will draw on its experience of battery train development for the Norwegian and Swedish rail networks, and in the UK, where it has previously explored the potential for battery train operation for Network Rail and the GBRTT.
In 2018, DfT announced its ambition to remove all diesel-only trains from its network by 2040 and commitment to achieve net zero railways by 2050.
With battery power providing an attractive, cost-efficient solution to complement further electrification work on the rail network, WSP’s work will support GBRTT’s emergent thinking around battery trains as part of its thirty-year strategy for rail, optimising the best solution for each battery route.
Steven Hart, associate director, rail planning at WSP, said: “Decarbonising the UK’s transport system will be key if we are to meet our climate commitments, and battery power’s potential as a cost-effective method of supporting these efforts is tremendous.
“We’re excited to be working collaboratively with RSSB and industry stakeholders to develop guidance for future standardised, safe and resilient battery train deployments in the UK and to support the rail industry in driving down its emissions in line with the UK's net zero targets.”
Aaron Barrett, RSSB lead research analyst, added: “To date, the design and roll-out of battery trains has been undertaken on a scheme-by-scheme basis.
“This has resulted in bespoke designs with manufacturers having their own approach to battery charging. While this has supported more rapid deployments, it has the potential restrict operational flexibility and rolling stock cascade options in the future.
“To address this challenge, some level of standardisation will help maintain high levels of safety, lower overall costs, future-proof the roll-out of battery technology and support GB Rail maximise the opportunities that battery trains can offer.”