Hitachi plans to run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs beyond the wires

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Hitachi are in discussions with the Scottish Government to run a Class 385 variant with underfloor batteries that could either be charged whilst under the wires or whilst stationary at the end of the route.

At a recent presentation given to the IMechE Railway Division in Glasgow, a Hitachi representative advised that it would be relatively straightforward to fit batteries under a Class 385 to enable it to travel for 20 miles beyond the wires under battery power. If required, sufficient batteries could be fitted to extend this range to 60 miles, although this would be a much more complex modification.

This initiative would build on the experience that Hitachi has gained in Japan from its DENCHA trains which were introduced in 2016. These two-car EMUs also operate both on battery power and under the wires. On non-electrified lines they can run for about 25 miles without recharging.

Hitachi’s proposal to operate battery trains in Scotland is at an early stage. However, with their use being recommended by the rail decarbonisation task force and the Scottish Government about to pass new climate change legislation, it may not be long before battery trains are operating in Scotland.