Inertia and frequency support from Britain's AC powered trains

Callum Henderson, Agusti Egea-Alvarez, Joan Rull-Duran, Marcel Nedd, Panagiotis N. Papadopoulos, Lie Xu

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The penetration of converter connected generation is increasing globally, bringing with it valid concerns over the stability of the modern electricity network. In terms of frequency stability, the provision of inertia and frequency support from converter interfaced generation has been the topic of significant research with a wide range of systems considered. One resource that has avoided significant attention is the GB rail electrical rolling stock. Everyday thousands of trains run on a strict schedule, travelling at high speeds with considerable mass all acting as one large energy store. The AC connected trains possess regenerative braking systems allowing for this energy to be harvested. With simple software modifications this energy can be extracted during large frequency events. This article investigates the power available for inertia and frequency response throughout a working day. A sensitivity analysis of parameters is conducted and the work looks to the future by considering increasing penetration of AC trains. A response between 300 – 850 MW is estimated for a one-minute frequency response. The calculated energy and response profile was then used to investigate the effect that the trains would have had on the 9th of August power cut that occurred in the UK in 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1259-1268
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy
Issue number2
Early online date10 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2023


  • railway engineering
  • energy storage
  • power system stability
  • frequency response
  • inertia


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