A NORTH-EAST train builder is looking into plans to introduce battery trains in the UK after making a success of them in Japan.

Bosses at Hitachi, who are based in Newton Aycliffe, say they are "working hard to secure our first order" for the battery trains, which will reduce carbon emissions and make stations and communities cleaner environments.

Giving research to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into 'trains fit for the future', the company say this proven battery technology shows that the Government does not need to make a binary choice between electrification and diesel trains.

Battery power can provide the bridging technology, and in time, replace diesel trains more and more as battery range increases. It would also allow the Government to be more ambitious in achieving the ‘no diesel by 2040’ goal, according to Hitachi.

Providing written evidence to the inquiry, Hitachi said: "We are ready to add battery packs to our long distance intercity bi-mode trains. This will enable stations to become diesel-free environments and cut fuel consumption when running in diesel mode.

"Electrification and alternative fuel trains provide several realistic ways to decarbonise the UK railways. Different technologies provide different solutions and therefore the Committee is right to explore these in greater detail and determine Government policy.

"Delivering new rolling stock innovations can take place in a shorter-time frame than the planning and delivery of electrification schemes, without causing significant delays on passenger routes.

"Hitachi has developed one of the world’s first commercial passenger battery fleets and is proactively exploring opportunities develop and introduce this proven technology in the UK."

By 2021 there will be 286 Hitachi trains carrying passengers across the UK. This is approximately 11 per cent of the UK’s total trains.

Earlier this summer, bosses at Hitachi welcomed being awarded a new £400m contract, but warned they still require another significant order to secure their long-term future.

The firm was chosen by Abellio, who were recently awarded a eight-year East Midlands Railway (EMR) franchise by the Department for Transport, to build 165 carriages for a new fleet of intercity trains.

Earlier this year, unions warned Hitachi was facing an "increasingly concerning" future when current orders for new trains run out next spring as there were no new orders in the pipeline.

The firm has since secured a £100m deal to build new high speed trains linking London and Edinburgh.