According to The Asahi Shimbun, a battery-powered train will make its debut in Japan on a Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) line on 19 Oct, an effort that is not only environment-friendly, but will also help the company slash operating costs.
Able to run on nonelectric rail lines, the battery-powered train, nicknamed “Dencha,” will operate on a 10.8-kilometer route in Kita-Kyushu, linking Orio and Wakamatsu stations on the Chikuho Line, according to JR Kyushu.
The two-car train will make four round trips a day.
The battery train emits less carbon dioxide and requires less maintenance than existing diesel trains, so JR Kyushu intends to introduce additional battery trains for other nonelectric lines in the future, JR Kyushu officials said.
Dencha will run on an electric route between Nogata and Orio stations as an out-of-service train to charge its battery. It will operate on electricity stored in the battery on the nonelectric route connecting Orio and Wakamatsu with its pantograph folded.
Dencha can run up to 90 km on one battery charge alone.
Manufacturing a car for the battery train costs 230 million yen (US$2.26 million), about 100 million yen more than conventional trains, but maintenance costs are 40 to 50 percent less than for diesel trains.
Nonelectric railways account for 40 percent of all of JR Kyushu’s commercial lines. Many of its diesel trains are showing wear and tear after more than 40 years of service.
JR Kyushu plans to cut costs by replacing existing trains with Dencha so that its unprofitable rural lines can continue operations.
A similar effort has been made by East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), which began running a battery train in March 2014 on its Karasuyama Line in Tochigi Prefecture.
JR East also plans to introduce a new battery-powered model developed by using JR Kyushu’s technologies on the Oga Line in Akita Prefecture in spring 2017.
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