Network Rail and Vivarail bring the next-generation battery train to COP26: Vivarail 230003 in operation- Bedford to Bletchley

Tuesday 28 Sep 2021

Network Rail and Vivarail bring the next-generation battery train to COP26

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Network Rail and Vivarail today announced that Vivarail’s next-generation battery train will be launched at COP26 and will run daily services throughout the international climate change conference.

This zero-emission train uses new batteries, developed by Vivarail, to combine maximum range with the ability to recharge quickly.  The result is a train that can travel for up to 80 miles on battery power and recharge in only 10 minutes using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system.

Fast Charge’s development was supported by an Innovate UK grant and will shortly begin its final stage of Network Rail approvals. 

At COP26, Vivarail will support the UK Government and wider rail industry’s ambition to reach Net Zero and carbon reduction targets by bringing to life this emission-free technology to a number of audiences, including graduates and global partners. Inspiring the leaders and innovators of the future is key to reaching Net Zero and fulfilling the UK’s carbon reduction targets.

As part of the spirit of collaboration across the rail industry for COP26, which will be held in Glasgow from November 1, Vivarail has been helped by SLC Operations, Alstom and VTG with drivers, electrical charging and transport. 

Last year, Network Rail became the first railway company in the world to commit to the most stretching science-based targets for reducing carbon. A key part of the strategy for achieving those targets is decarbonising traction energy through further overhead line electrification and using alternative fuels, including battery and hydrogen trains.  

A hydrogen-powered train will also feature in a fringe event at COP26, announced earlier this year by Network Rail and Porterbrook. This will give guests, including leaders and climate experts, a first-hand experience of British technological innovation and expertise, and how alternative fuel trains of the future will play a vital part in building back better and greener from the pandemic.  

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said:

“We are ambitious to make our railways even greener and I am delighted that Vivarail will launch their flagship battery train at COP26, thanks to investment from our Accelerating Innovation programme.

“Decarbonising the rail network is crucial to reaching net-zero by 2050 and this technology is another example of how we are building back greener.”

Martin Frobisher OBE, Network Rail’s safety and engineering director, said:

“I’m delighted that we’re partnering with two thriving British companies in Vivarail and Porterbrook to showcase the future of rail in this country to the world at COP26.

“Rail is already the greenest form of public transport, and battery-powered trains will play an important role in our commitment to providing an even cleaner, greener railway for the future.”

Steve McBride, Managing Director of Vivarail, said:

“It is a great honour to be asked to support such an important event. The achievement of an innovative British company like Vivarail to build a first in class train is a great example of our country’s ingenuity and ability to find new technologies and ways to do things. 

“Our R&D team has spent 3 years developing these new batteries, working with specialists Hoppecke. The result is a new traction and charging system able to convert diesel stock or act as range extenders on other types of electric train. We are now ready to play our part in delivering an electrified network in the shortest possible time. 

“We have already sold our first train to the United States – with a second on order. As part of the RDC family we have benefitted from insights and help from the US and Europe, so we know our products have ready export potential – helping decarbonise across the world.”


Notes to Editors

Network Rail

Network Rail is the first railway organisation in the world to adopt the most ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions to a level that would limit global warming to 1.5°C, rather than the 2°C adopted in the 2015 Paris Agreement. These targets and the plans to achieve them have been independently verified by the UN-backed Science Based Targets Initiative.  

Network Rail’s Sustainability Strategy outlines our vision is to serve the nation with the cleanest, greenest mass transport. To read more, click here.


Vivarail is a world leader in battery technology for rail applications.

The company has designed and developed emission-free traction systems all based around flexible battery operation.  Vivarail has built Class 230 and Class 484 trains, using a variety of power systems.  Its first pure battery train was launched in 2018 and its next generation train will be launched at the UN Climate Change Conference.

Vivarail has sold trains to a number of UK based operators and to Railroad Development Corporate in the US as part of its export strategy.

With the UK’s first battery and battery hybrid trains fully approved for passenger service, plus the export of battery trains to the US, Vivarail has proved its ability to deliver independently power emission-free rolling stock.  It means that an electrified network can be achieved without the need and expense of installing new catenary.  As well as ensuring good quality existing rolling stock can be retained by converting to battery power – saving waste, energy and resources whilst delivering a decarbonised railway.

For more information contact:

Alice Gillman

+44 7815 010373

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