Bombardier has struck a deal worth €100m (£89m) to power trains with lithium batteries, in a major milestone that could cut the cost of a multibillion-pound government commitment to fully electrify Britain’s railways by a third.
The train maker has picked Swiss battery specialist Leclanché as its preferred supplier for the next five years.
The deal comes after 18 months of testing and will see the first commercial operation of lithium battery-powered trains on Britain’s railways.
Fewer than half of Britain’s train lines have electrified rails or overhead wires installed, meaning large sections of the network are reliant on more dirty diesel-powered locomotives.
Does the cost of hauling the – heavy – batteries around beat the cost of adding the wires or rails to electrify the line?
I can imagine it does on some very lightly used line crossing some howling wasteland in the middle of fuck all. Say, Cardiff to Newport. And quite possibly not on a major route in London’s suburbs. Say.
But then are the extra costs of the batteries, over diesel, worth the reduction in emissions? Probably not, eh?