Why would a train need batteries when there's wires above to get power from? The answer is – so we stop using diesel trains and be able to travel to distant areas without electrical infrastructure for the trains. There's a lot of such places so a new "autonomous" battery train concept from UK could change a lot of people's lives...
It's an experimental train that runs on battery power being tested on electrified line by the UK based operator Abellio Greater Anglia. According to the guys over at Transportevolved, such train was last used more than half a century ago.
The train itself is a specialy modified Class 379 Bombardier electric train with a huge pattery pack mounted under the passenger carriages. As in a Tesla Model S, Class 379 Electrostar has the same little 18650 form factor Li-ion cells. The difference between Model S and Electrostar is that the EV has exactly 6,381 such cells and the train... 80,000!
There's no word on the total battery capacity, but we couldn't resist to make some rough calculations. If we divide 80,000 by 6,381, which provide 85 kWh in the Model S, we easily get over 1 mWh of capacity. May not be the right way to figure it out, though.
It's a huge quantity of cells, but it's becuase the train is also huge. That said, those 80k cells are good for 45 minutes (not kilometers) run. The train's being tested on electrified line so they can charge the batteries via pantograph from time to time and the goal of the project is to evaluate the chance to stop using diesel trains where there's no electricity. (We only wonder how long it takes to charge those batteries.)
This way we'll be able to travel to places with no electrical lines using battery power for the trains instead of diesel. And most importantly – with battery trains there will be no need to electrify train lines in remote areas, which in turn could save hundreds of millions of Euros.
The team behind the projects hopes that one day battery trains like the one being tested will make train travel cheaper and greener.
And we hope that these little 18650 cells that Elon's team chose to power Model S with, will inspire more and more life changing projects like this one you just learned about.