Self-charging train project gets UK government funding

New scheme has awarded more than £5 million to transform the future of British transport

A new scheme will see self-charging trains on Britain's railway network. PA
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Self-charging trains could be part of Britain's future railway network after an innovative project received government funding.

The Department for Transport said Cambridgeshire-based company Echion Technologies is creating train batteries that can charge from overhead wires.

Under the scheme, the train would then use the power to continue its journey — or “leapfrog” — on unelectrified sections of track.

Bi-mode trains which can be powered by overhead wires and diesel are currently used on Britain’s railways.

Other projects awarded a share of more than £5 million from the department's First of a Kind 2020 competition include a programme by Thales Ground Transportation to develop sensors which detect when a person is approaching the tracks.

It is hoped this will reduce disruption and could prevent suicides.

The department says this year’s competition, in partnership with Innovate UK, will “transform rail travel for passengers and decarbonise the network”.

The competition has already helped launch over 100 projects.

Previous winners have included Riding Sunbeams, which use sunlight to power railways, and 4Silence’s sound bending walls which cancel out noise pollution.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The UK has a long history of leading the way in railway innovation, and the First of a Kind competition is getting the great brains of today to create the trains of tomorrow.

“Through millions of pounds worth of government funding, we are breathing life into ideas that will revolutionise our railways and make them greener than ever before.

“This is just the beginning and, as Transport Secretary, I am determined to support British innovation and create a cutting edge, green rail industry that delivers even more benefits for passengers and freight.”

Updated: November 15, 2022, 1:44 PM