Battery Traction

Battery Traction

Is battery traction coming of age?

Battery power offers the benefits of an electric railway such as decarbonisation, air quality and noise improvements without the need for constructing and maintaining overhead lines along the entire route, a key advantage when needing to decarbonise transport rapidly.

As battery performance and costs have significantly improved over the recent years and battery powertrains become more commonplace around us their use in battery and hybrid rollingstock has become increasingly attractive. If you'd like to get up to speed with some Battery Basics then take a look below.

A key question remains - Where should batteries be included? The feasibility/optioneering study example below explores the suitability of different traction types for routes in the Netherlands. If this is a question you are considering for your route then get in touch and we can help inform your strategy too.

What is wrong with traditional electrification?

Electrically powered railways offer higher levels of reliability, efficiency, cleaner air and lower noise levels than is typically seen from diesel traction. So why not electrify everything?

Whilst many believe that electrically powered railways are generally more reliable and energy efficient than their fossil fuelled alternatives, the counter argument is that traditional overhead electrification comes at a high capital cost and increases infrastructure maintenance costs too.

In the UK for example, overhead electrification of existing track costs of £1m per single track kilometre are often exceeded and even in Germany, (often cited as an example of good practice in Europe, where an efficient programme ensures consistent volumes of work), a cost of £0.3m per single track kilometre is still incurred. This is a heavy investment to make, especially on long routes. On heavily used lines this is often a price worth paying, but where there are lower densities of traffic the capital costs can be difficult to justify, which is where battery traction can be a worthwhile option to consider.

The construction of overhead electrification also takes significant time, with projects often lasting many years once they commence. With the binding commitments made by governments and infrastructure owners to decarbonise transport, the practicalities of completing large lengths of electrification before the deadlines expire remain unproven.

The power to deliver battery traction

If battery traction is the right option for your route, then the teams at Ricardo offer a unique multi-sector and technology agnostic perspective for your powertrain project. Our teams operate across a wide range of sectors in battery electric drivetrains providing solutions across motorsport, automotive, and defence sectors whilst also combining the core capability in the railway environment. With such a wide perspective spanning so many sectors our teams offer access to the latest technologies and expertise combined with the unique experience of railway rollingstock. We are even evaluating niche battery production for lower volume vehicles such as those required for rail rollingstock.

In house battery expertise from design to delivery and beyond

Our in-house battery design and test facilities together with engineering teams experienced at integrating battery solutions whilst managing their safety take projects from idea to reality.

Our engineers work at the forefront of battery and electric powertrain technology giving you access to the latest award winning technology for your project to drive it to success. 

Whilst success for many might stop at delivering a design or perhaps putting a project into service we can offer a complete solution which can continue through to getting the most from your investment in service.

Our connected battery management system is designed to optimise fleet performance and avoid in-service interruptions through data remote monitoring, and analysis, whilst the digital twin allows the effects of updates and changes to be modelled before cascading to the operational fleet. 

Expertise at every step of your battery journey

Whatever the stage of your journey with battery traction, from initial feasibility, through design, engineering, testing, integration, approvals and beyond into service we have a team that can help. If you are considering battery traction for your rail projects, whether that be new-build or retrofit, then get in touch.

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