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Onboard battery tram tested in Kagoshima

One of the Kagoshima Little Dancer low-floor trams. (Image: KTB)

Kagoshima Transportation Bureau and Toshiba started test runs of their catenary-free 1000-series Alna Sharyo-built Little Dancer tram on 23 April. The tram is powered by a lithium-ion battery and ran 10km (6.2 miles) on the Toso line from Kagoshima eki-mae to Korimoto without drawing power from the overhead, using the 24.3kWh secondary battery.

Charging the battery directly from the 600V dc overhead would traditionally require a large charging unit. However, Toshiba has developed a space-saving storage system by using the auxiliary power unit that converts energy for the tram’s lighting and air-conditioning to charge the secondary battery, which can be installed under the passenger seats.

The Toshiba battery claims a life exceeding 10 000 charge-discharge cycles and can operate in temperatures down to -30°C. The Japanese firm also claims the new battery’s structure is highly resistant to overheating, even in the event of a short circuit caused by external pressure – important as it will now be placed in the passenger cabin of the tram.