Diesel-Electric Hybrid Train
Trials will start next year on what is being billed as Europe’s first hybrid high-speed train, which can cut emission levels by up to 50%. The system, which has been developed by Hitachi in Japan, consists of a battery-assisted diesel-electric traction engine. The traction unit uses the battery when the train is at rest and in the early stages of acceleration up to around 30 kilometres an hour (19mph), at which point the conventional diesel engine kicks in.
The first unit will be fitted to Network Rail’s New Measurement Train which, in addition to its role monitoring the condition of tracks, acts as a technology test bed. According to Hitachi, tests in Japan have shown that the hybrid system can cut harmful emissions by up to 50% and fuel bills by a fifth. Emission levels and fuel costs are increasingly important factors in the rail industry. “Long-term sustainability is a key component for future transportationsystems,” said Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail Group’s general manager.
UK trials will start in April and are expected to last six months. Hitachi said the system has been developed and tested since 2003 and is now in production for a Japanese customer.