Self-charging trains to revolutionise British rail travel

The First of a Kind (FOAK) 2022 competition, in partnership with Innovate UK, focused on new concepts that will transform rail travel for passengers and decarbonising the network.

One of the winners, Echion Technologies is developing batteries that will charge from overhead wires and use that charge to ‘leapfrog’ across unelectrified section of track and, effectively, create self-charging trains.

Supported by Transport Design International, Horiba Mira and DB Cargo, the team aim to demonstrate its XNO battery chemistry can be installed and used by passenger trains that can be powered by the AC overhead electrification and charge a battery from the overhead wire (or another form of ‘standard’ trackside power, for example, third rail), to then run in battery-only mode on unelectrified sections of a route.

If successful, it means that the electrified network could be significantly expanded, and that difficult and expensive issues, such as electrification under tunnels, could be sidestepped. In all, far more energy efficient and cleaner train services could be made to run end to end.

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