Manufacturing News

Battery train to transform travel

Prototype can switch energy sources between grid and backup.

A new energy train powered by both a battery pack and power grid is having its trial run in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, its manufacturer CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co announced on Tuesday.

The train is the first prototype that can switch its power source freely between the power grid and batteries and has a maximum speed of 160 km/h. It can run for 200 kilometers when the power grid is cut off, and it is able to operate under extreme weather and geographical conditions, including sandy and frozen environments.

Wang Chengtao, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Changchun, a subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, said the core technologies are in the train's battery system and it can be used on both high-speed train tracks and light railway tracks in future integrated railroads.

Eager to compete with its rivals in Japan, the company has gained the knowhow for modular system integration, power battery packs and simulation analysis systems.

"As the train can run solely powered by its battery packs, it will eliminate damage to the local environment caused by the construction of a power grid, leaving the environment and landscape largely intact," said Wang.

The new train, designed both for inter-city and inner-city use, can also travel through ecologically fragile areas, tourist spots and farmland, as well as developing countries that lack power infrastructure, in particular developing countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative.

"Developing countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, as well as developed countries such as the United States and those in Europe all have similar demand to either enhance regional connectivity or further reduce carbon emissions," said Feng Hao, a railway development researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission.

The trial runs of the train will give China more credibility in setting the international standard for new energy high-speed trains, Feng said.

The train will also produce less noise than regular trains as new soundproof materials are used in the carriages. To provide a better travel experience, the train is also fully covered by Wi-Fi, according to CRRC Changchun.

"As China is proficient in manufacturing high-speed trains and providing maintenance services in a relatively low-price way in global markets, CRRC has been keen to make breakthroughs in its entire production line from 400 km/h bullet trains, magnetic trains and piggyback wagons to semiconductors, deep-sea equipment and renewable energy buses," said Feng.

CRRC signed a total of 25.79 billion yuan ($3.79 billion) in contracts between April and June this year, including high-speed train orders from China Railway Corp and passenger trains deals with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority. It also launched a sleeping berth bullet train service from Beijing to Shanghai on July 1.

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