A Great Western Railway trial has seen a battery powered train travel a UK record of 86 miles without recharging.

Since this achievement the company’s FastCharge battery trial has seen the Class 230 train complete a 70-mile journey from Long Marston to Reading Train Care Depot using just 45 per cent of its battery capacity.

GWR’s team of specialist engineers on board the train are now confident that it could potentially cover more than 120 miles on a single charge.

GWR engineering director Dr Simon Green said: "We were delighted by how the battery train performed today and during its series of test runs.

"In fact, it’s fair to say it has surpassed the expectations of our team of engineers.

"Achieving these distances gives us great confidence as we press forward with this industry-leading FastCharge technology.

"It’s also worth noting that in reaching the 86 miles on Wednesday, the train was operating in a real-world environment, at speeds of up to 60mph, stopping and starting over a hilly route, with elevation changes of up to 200m.”

This latest achievement supersedes the 84-mile record set by a Stadler Class 777 under test conditions in 2022.

The FastCharge technology by GWR has been specifically designed to overcome the challenge of delivering reliable battery-only trains on branch lines, thereby eliminating the use of diesel traction and assisting in meeting the Government and wider rail industry’s target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The biggest issue concerning the extended use of batteries have predominantly been their range.

However, with this breakthrough, the need for expensive and landscape-altering overhead electric lines could be negated.

This technology is scheduled to undergo real-world trials at West Ealing for the first time this spring.

The train will charge for only three and a half minutes before resuming its journey.

Based on their simulations on other branch lines in the Thames Valley, GWR envisages a potential reduction in their emissions by more than 1,700 tons of CO2e annually if the technology is successfully extended in the future.

Ultimately, the hope is that such technology could facilitate battery-powered trains across the UK’s 2,000 miles of branch lines.

The technology was procured after GWR signed a deal with Vivarail in February 2022.

Even though Vivarail entered administration in December 2022, GWR finalised contracts to purchase intellectual property, rolling stock and equipment related to the FastCharge technology.

As the trial commences, it will run in non-passenger service alongside scheduled passenger services, reflecting the promising future of battery-powered trains in the UK.