Innovative technologies made in Germany are not only shaping the mobility of the future in the shipping and air traffic industries. Soon there could also be available a solution for a more eco-friendly train transport: Wherever diesel vehicles step in in case of a missing overhead line network, the environment and local residents suffer the well-known inconveniences in noise and exhaust gas pollution. In the future, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery built into the train could make it possible to bridge these route sections in a way that avoids emissions and noise. Stadler Pankow GmbH is currently working on such a solution in collaboration with the Technische Universität Berlin and EWE Netz GmbH in the “FLIRT-Akku” project.

During the course of the project, different lithium-ion technologies have already been tested for their suitability as traction batteries in a railway vehicle. At the end of 2018, a train from the Stadler “Flirt series”, equipped with batteries on the inside and on the roof, successfully completed its first journey on a disused route in the north of the German capital, Berlin.

When running purely on batteries, a rechargeable battery train of this type can achieve a speed of 140 km/h and a range of around 80 km. This means that it could be used on 80% of the overhead line-free German railway routes. The batteries can be charged not only on electrified terminal stations, or – if available – via an electrified overhead line: The energy produced when the train slows down can also be stored. The train prototype has already been approved for passenger transport by the German Federal Railway Authority and is planned for use on selected routes in Germany from as early as 2019. In the medium term, as well as an increase in range and speed, the plan is to use the environmentally friendly, energy-efficient trains for cross-border traffic. If permission for the rechargeable battery is received for Poland, such trains are planned for use on the Berlin-Szczecin line in the medium-term future.

The project is being funded over two years by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).