While most trains running on tracks in the urban world are electrified and hence don’t produce any carbon emissions during the run, not all tracks around the world are electrified and hence diesel-powered locomotives are used. Hybrid technology has been slow to get onto the tracks owing to factors such as longer capital investment planning cycles, and reliability of hybrid engines.
Taking on the challenge, Germany has unveiled the first converted hybrid train, as part of a hybrid train pilot project, which will carry passengers between Aschaffenburg and Miltenberg. During the 37km run, the train has to stop at 14 stations and hence has plenty of opportunities to recharge using regenerative braking power.
The train, a Siemens Desiro Classic VT 642, contains two 315kW hybrid power packs that replace the conventional 275kW diesel engines. The drive system has been provided by MTU and is intended to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. The hybrid system also allows the train to move entirely on electricity in populated areas such as on stations. Treehugger states that braking energy is stored in a lithium-ion battery pack, mounted on the roof, which provides energy for starting, accelerating and powering the electrical load on the train.