GWR kicks off Greenford battery trial

On test: GWR battery unit No 2030001 stands at West Ealing on 15 March 2024. Philip Sherratt

Great Western Railway will formally start a 12-month trial to test battery unit No 230001 and the FastCharge system on the Greenford branch from 18 March.

The operator acquired the unit and the FastCharge system, along with spare ‘D’ stock vehicles, after developer Vivarail went into administration, and has taken on some of the former Vivarail team to enable the trial to progress. The aim of the trial is to identify if the battery train and FastCharge system would be suitable for rolling out on other branch line – GWR already believes it could be suitable for the other Thames Valley branches.

While GWR’s aim that the ‘230’ will eventually carry passengers on the Greenford branch, the priority initially is to test the FastCharge system. The system is monitored by test engineers using screens in the train and this can also be monitored remotely, including by teams in the control room. As well as the overall charge level of the train and of each individual battery, these screens show when the train is charging and when the shoegear is lowered or raised. Early performance on the Greenford branch has shown the train can fully top up its charge in the short turnaround time at West Ealing. Testing will cover a range of weather conditions, different loads on the train and different driving styles.

  • A full report is in the April 2024 edition of Modern Railways, on sale from 28 April.