A TRAIN builder has teamed up with a fellow manufacturer to develop battery packs to power zero-emission trains and create a battery hub in the North-East.

Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive Innovation are about to accelerate the creation of batteries that can be mass-produced to provide emission-free power for hundreds of battery trains across the UK.

With almost two-thirds of the UK’s 20,000 mile rail network not electrified and with the Government setting ambitious decarbonisation targets, Hitachi Rail said analysis estimates the potential market for Hyperdrive and Hitachi’s battery technology is more than 400 trains.

The firms said this agreement is an important step towards manufacturing batteries at Hyperdrive’s HYVE facility in Sunderland, and then installing them at Hitachi Rail’s train-building factory in Newton Aycliffe.

Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients of the batteries for use in the UK, as well as installing them on new Metro and intercity trains that will be needed in the coming years to replace ageing diesel fleets.

Andrew Barr, group chief executive of Hitachi Rail said: “Battery trains can play a vital role in improving the air we breathe, tackling climate change and providing modern, high performing rail service – all things we know passengers want to see.

“The partnership with Hyperdrive creates shovel-ready opportunity for new battery trains to be ordered now. As well as new trains, this is also a window of opportunity to cut carbon and supercharge a green recovery in the North-East and across the UK.”

Chris Pennison, chief executive of Hyperdrive added: “We’re delighted to bring our expertise and experience as a trusted electrification partner to a new industry, assisting an innovative organisation like Hitachi, as it modernises and decarbonises UK rail networks.

“Our partnership with Hitachi will secure major investment and jobs in the North-East, reinforcing the UK’s battery supply chain and keeping the country on track to reach net-zero by 2050. The partnership underpins the vision that the rail industry can be a major contributor to the UK Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 and strengthens the case for home-grown innovation to be at the forefront of the UK’s clean growth strategy.”