LIRR Wants To Be First In North America With Battery-Powered Commuter Trains


The Lengthy Island Rail Highway needs to be the primary commuter railroad in North America to run battery powered trains. It should start a virtually $1 million evaluation of its diesel trains on the Oyster Bay department to see whether or not they are often transformed to run on batteries alone for some sections.

“This isn’t step one, however fairly probably a quantum leap to the long run. One that’s greener, quieter,” Phil Eng, president of the LIRR, stated Monday.

Some trains in Europe already run on rechargeable batteries.

The MTA’s battery research will final eight months and can take a look at how lengthy a practice can run on batteries, how briskly they are often re-charged, and the way simply a practice can swap from battery to electrified third rail energy. The take a look at trains are anticipated to function utilizing third rail energy on the electrical part of the road, charging the batteries as they journey, then swap over to the battery-only energy alongside the non-electrified part of observe between East Williston and Oyster Bay.

The MTA can even assess how a lot energy the several-ton diesel trains have to stand up hills, in addition to issues of safety.

Tesla lately drew consideration after it reportedly took firefighters a number of hours to extinguish one in every of its fashions that was working on “auto-pilot” when it hit a tree and caught fireplace, leaving two passengers useless. A spokesperson for the MTA stated all through its testing course of, security is a prime precedence.

The primary section of the LIRR research can be confined to taking a look at specs on paper. Will probably be adopted by trial runs on trains with no passengers.

The practice producer Alstom will conduct the trials with the MTA. Through the evaluation, they’ll decide the place precisely the batteries is likely to be situated, underneath seats, on the roof, or underneath the automobiles of the M7 trains which run on the Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson branches.

If the eight month trial is profitable, the MTA might start retrofitting the M7 trains as quickly as subsequent yr, with plans to check the battery-powered trains on extra non-electrified branches. It’s unclear how a lot it might price to retrofit the diesel trains and maintain them charged, however the MTA is assured it might be cheaper than electrifying your entire line. That might price the MTA $17 billion.

“From an environmental perspective, this can be a nice alternative for the Lengthy Island Rail Highway and the MTA to scale back its diesel output and to present cleaner air to the entire communities which diesel now runs,” Mitchell Pally, a former MTA board member and chair of the Lengthy Island chapter of the League of Conservation Voters, stated Monday. “Hopefully it would considerably broaden the alternatives for electrified service.”