LIRR to Test Battery-Powered Trains

The Long Island Rail Road. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Long Island Rail Road may be the first in the country to run trains powered by electricity rather than fuel.

LIRR President Phillip Eng said that the railroad is considering refitting M7 trains with batteries that would allow them to run on lines typically powered by diesel, WCBS 880 reported.

After an initial study, a two-car electric train will operate on batteries and go along the 13-mile Oyster Bay Branch without passengers as a practical test.

If the run is successful, the LIRR will be able to carry passengers directly from Oyster Bay to New York City.

“The first eight months we’ll be looking at how many batteries are needed to support our operational needs today. Will they fit in the train? The idea at this point is to find out how many, how big and where they will fit underneath the train car,” Eng said. “How long a charge will last and how many miles can be traveled will helps us determine where charging locations may be needed.”

The LIRR may expand the program its entire 160-mile commuter rail system. Eng said battery-powered trains would be quieter, more environmentally friendly, and a less expensive way to switch from diesel than to spend an estimated $17  billions converting the entire system into an electrical one.

The eight-month study will cost $860,000. 

“Embracing new technology might allow us to essentially electrify the entire railroad without the need for billions of dollars in massive capital investments,” he said.

“[Anything] we do to improve Oyster Bay improves the rest of the branches and because then we have an opportunity to look at how we can reassign cars and fleets and better serve all of our riders.” 


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